Heart and Rush in the Hall


Rush and Heart along with a handful of other artists will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF) next year, two bands I grew up listening to back in high school.  They may not have been the most significant bands of the era, or the most interesting or flashy.  Their records were not all masterpieces, but they had tons of fans in their hey days and sold out big arenas across the U.S. and Canada.  Interestingly, they are both Canadian bands.  Heart actually formed in Canada where they recorded Dreamboat Annie (1976), their first and perhaps best LP.  2112 , also released in 1976, propelled Rush onto the international stage.  As a teen, it was one of the records in constant play on my turntable, as was Heart’s Dog & Butterfly (1978), an underrated classic and in my view, the band’s magnum opus.

Are the two bands deserving of the RRHOF?  Perhaps.  Given the amount of time I spent listening to Hemispheres (1978) and Dog & Butterfly as a teenager, I think yes.  And from the standpoint of durability, the bands are still standing and playing after nearly 40 years – and that’s a lot of years rock and rolling.  Heart may not have had quite the impact that Rush has had.  They still tour, but play theaters, not arenas.  Rush on the other hand just completed the North American leg of their Clockwork Angels  (2012) world tour where they have played large arenas and will continue to do so in Europe in 2013.  And by the way, Clockwork Angels may be their best LP to date.  No many bands who have been playing since the 70’s would be capable of producing a masterpiece together nearly 40 years later let alone pulling it off as Rush has.

To Rush, Heart and all the 2013 inductees to the RRHOF, Congratulations and rock on!

Song Not Car Star in VW Ad

Volkswagen has a new ad out, you know the one with the dude who makes a good drumstick toss and catch air drumming to an old Rush tune in his new black VW Passat? Well, once again, the song is the star, not the dude, and not the car.  This time, the song is Fly By Night, a slightly undervalued song from the album by the same name.  Rush released Fly By Night in 1975 and it helped launch their career that is still going strong today.  Have you heard their latest album Clockwork Angels?  You should, because it is good, it really is and might be as good as their classic album 2112 and that’s saying a lot.  Why these guys are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is beyond me.

I said Volkswagen has an ad out and once again the song is the star.  Do you remember the other song that stared several years back?  You should if you don’t.  Pink Moon by Nick Drake.  The title track from his third album released in 1973, Pink Moon is dark and pensive as are the rest of the bleak but gorgeous songs on the LP.  It would be his last recording before he died of an overdose.  If you don’t know his music, check him out.  You’ll be glad you did.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Travelogue Part II

Once out of NY, the road surface seemed to change and the Fit began to sound like a 117 horses galloping along on a wooden surface.  I noticed strips from rubber tires all about and road kill marking the miles.  Lots of trucks, even saw a triple trailer – the thing actually passed me which was a little insulting.  I retook my position on a steep incline somewhere in Ohio.  Ohio, Chrissie Hind’s state.  Land of Clinger and Oberlin College, Toledo too where we took in a leisurely stroll in Promenade Park which had an impressive array of bronze statues and the most spectacular smoke stack I’ve seen in years.

And then there was Cleveland where we took in I.M. Pei’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which at first glance looks like the glass triangle at the Louvre. The Rock and Roll Museum has an impressive collection of costumes, memorabilia, including Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche; musical equipment, and guitars.  Lots of guitars.  Custom guitars made for Elvis and Jerry Garcia.  All the greats have guitars on display in the museum – B.B. King, Albert King, Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Les Paul and Howling Wolf.   One of the most fascinating exhibits featured clips of Les Paul playing with Mary Ford and his commentary on the history of the instrument including his contributions to modern guitar playing, guitar building and recording techniques.  He was a master player, tinkerer and innovator.

Jukebox kiosks give visitors a chance to listen to music from any of the inductees and music from virtually all genres represented in the Hall from Blues to Heavy Metal and anything in between.  I grooved to the Velvet Underground and Jeff Beck.

The museum runs a film covering each of the inductees by year and while interesting, was not nearly as interesting as the actual museum exhibits and it was way too long.  If I had known how long it would last – more than an hour it seemed – I’d have skipped it.

And of course it has a gift shop.  The escalator conveniently deposits you there.  Lots of crap as you might expect, but we bought a couple of books – one a history of the guitar and the other a biography of Janis Joplin written by her sister.

After the museum, we had some soul food at Hot Sauce Williams. The food was excellent – crisp, moist fried chicken drowned in barbecue sauce, succulent ribs and mouth watering sides – fried okra, baked beans and corn bread.  Anthony Bourdain had been to the place and gave it high marks.  We gave it thumbs up too.   When you visit the museum, pass on the food there and save your appetite for some good soul food.  It’ll hit the spot and do you right.