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god is smiling on you but he's frowning, too
n March of last year, I made a prediction for 2007, concerning this year's inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I predicted it would be the first year that a Rap/HipHop artist would be inducted and that the artist would be Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

On January 8th, it was announced that this year's inductees were Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Patti Smith, The Ronettes, Van Halen, and R.E.M.

To be fair, I also made some auxiliary predictions concerning The Sugarhill Gang and Sylvia Robinson riding on the coattails of GF+F5. I also was apparently wrong about their eligiblity; GF+F5 have been eligible AND nominated for the past three years running. However, I have to bask in the glory of calling-out the dissenting opinions of lossfound and welfy, who didn't think rap artists would even be included in the Hall of Fame, and to a certain degree, democritus and thawaltzingfool who didn't think this would be the year. Just a moment or two... oh yes, it feels good.

For me, the question still remains: will any more of rap's first old-school be recognized? The precedent has been set and the flood gates are now officially open. I personally don't think The Sugarhill Gang or Kurtis Blow are worthy, though I still think Robinson should get a non-performing recognition someday as a producer and founder of Sugarhill Records. In addition to being instrumental in giving rap it's first hit ("Rapper's Delight"), her duties in that capacity resulted in writing credits on dozens and dozens of rap's early songs, including "The Message". Maybe Afrikka Bambaataa? The second old-school starts becoming eligible over the next 4-5 years. Technically, my beloved Beastie Boys are already eligible, but I doubt they'll get a nomination until 2011 (the 25th anniversary of Licensed to Ill). Run-DMC are eligible in 2009. LL Cool J in 2011 and Public Enemy in 2013.

The Stooges were snubbed yet again, 13 years and counting. I think this year made like, 5 straight years they've been nominated but not inducted. I can't think of any other artist currently eligible that has had more wide-ranging influence than the Stooges. Certainly more than Patti Smith or The Ronettes. As for next year, there are a couple of first-year shoo-ins on-deck: Madonna and Metallica. Sonic Youth becomes eligible next year, too. They're certainly deserving, but if the Stooges can't manage an induction I don't have much faith Sonic Youth will make it the first go-around.

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i didn't recognize the lyric. i know a lot of people like late 70s zappa but i know i also tried to find my way into zappa from joe's garage and sheik yerbouti and the SUAPYG stuff and all that... the first time it really clicked for me was with weasels ripped my flesh and uncle meat. i still like the early zappa records far better than anything else in the catalog and i think soop would relate to them more too. :)

To be frank (har har) my exposure to Zappa has been somewhat limited. I had access to Apostrophe and One Size Fits All in my youth and wasn't impressed and, as so often is the case with me, patently dismissed Zappa as an artist I wouldn't be interested in pursuing any further.

Later in college I did hear some of Uncle Meat and liked what I heard, but I also heard a good portion of 200 Motels and was all "eh" about it. With the size and experimental nature of Zappa's catalogue it stands to reason that he could be very hit-or-miss with me. I'll have to keep in mind your recommendations should I, er, come across those albums in the future.

for me, yeah, he's pretty hit or miss in terms of whether i can actually enjoy something of his. even the earlier albums have bits i wish he'd replaced with something else. but his sheer willingness to try just about anything is but one reason that he's a really fascinating character with so many incredibly rabid fans.

You're going to have to start referring to it as Apostrophe (') or no Zappa fans are going to believe that you're l33t.

My two favourites are the debut LP Freak Out! and the much later Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention. I'm also a fan of You Are What You Is.

I think you're spot on about the volume of work and the hit and miss thing, though. There is a lot of material on a lot of his albums that truly bores me shitless.

It's from "Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?" from Zappa in New York and at least one of the You Can't Do That On Stage series. :)

Weasels is excellent. What roped me in, though, was Hot Rats and Live at the Fillmore East. After that Over-night Sensation and Apostrophe got me....and it was a downward slide from there - Chunga's Revenge and Weasels and Joe's Garage.

The musicianship across all of the albums is amazing...but when Zappa really plays his guitar, my mouth drops (see also "Watermelon in Easter Hay").


although i have an obscene amount of what constitutes "formal training" i've always been an anti-virtuosity musician, and guitar solos in the standard sense always turn me off, so take that for whatever it's worth. it's probably a factor in why i like the earlier stuff way better. i do love hot rats and the grand wazoo, though.

I don't care that much for the guitar acrobatics...where it's just "how fast can it be played" sort of thing. The reference to "Watermelon in Easter Hay" was pointing where talent meets emotion and goes on a great ride.

Satriani, Vai, Malmsteen and the other guitar virtuosos only hold my attention so long. They're amazingly talented, no doubt. But Robert Cray, BB King, Clapton, and yes, even Zappa, where you feel the love of music and the love for the song bleed through...man, that just makes the hair on my arms stand up and reels me in.

yeah, i know a lot of people feel that way. in my old age i've come to feel that solos never "respect the song / composition" regardless of who is playing them. there are some soloists i can tolerate longer than others, zappa and hendrix among them. i never understood the blues-guitar-solo phenomenon at all. you have an inherently simple harmonic structure, where you have only a couple of basic formulae for formal construction and one song is essentially the same as another. it's pretty obviously about the solo and not the song.

the name shredders are actually a little more interesting in some theoretical sense, because they set themselves up purposely with much bigger challenges, in terms of formal structure and harmonic language (although, then again, you have guys like Kirk Hammett who will blissfully play a two-minute solo without having any freaking clue what harmonies are lying immediately underneath). but i agree that the results ultimately are even less compelling unless you want to marvel at the playing and nothing else.

it's a weightlifting contest. every guy in the gym wants to know how much you can bench. only a few girls care. and while they might be fun for a few nights in the sack, you sure as hell wouldn't want to marry them.

just my own take. my favorite guitarist in the world is Johnny Marr during the Smiths era, and i idolize that guy precisely because he was a player with absolutely insane chops whose main concern was the composition and the arrangement. you would never, ever know how fantastic a player that guy is unless you tried to play some of his more involved riffs yourself.

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