A blog by Patrick Crozier

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October 20, 2004

UK Rock Hall of Fame - Channel Four

About 20 years after the Americans led the way we've finally got round to setting up one of our own and over the next few weeks the founder members will be decided by you the public. Well, some founder members coz they've already got five:

Elvis
The Beatles
Bob Marley
Madonna
U2

Not a good start. Elvis and the Beatles fine. But Madonna!? U2!? Come off it. Bob Marley? Well, I suppose there is a case. But Marley before Berry Gordy? I don't think so. But in a sense you can see the logic. They've decided to admit one artist from each decade. So one from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Only one problem: the inescapable truth is that rock peaked in the 1960s and it's been downhill ever since. They would have been a lot better off admitting it. But instead they've lumbered themselves with an 80s shortlist that includes Guns 'n' Roses. And a 90s shortlist... you don't want to know about the 90s shortlist.

Anyway, as I hinted at, every week they take one decade and this week we're up to the 70s (it's in reverse order, see?) so I thought I'd indulge in some little idle speculation on who's going to make the shortlist.

My test for greatness is three great tracks. Any artist who managed three great tracks, at any time, is great. No questions asked. You might like to try the exercise with your own favourite band. Have they produced three great tracks? I tried the exercise with the Smiths and Joy Division (my personal faves) and I have to say I found myself struggling. Got there in the end, though. But it does go to show how great the Beatles, Abba and Elton John - with figures way above this - really are.

Anyway, these are who I think should be on the 70s list:

Elton John
Sex Pistols
Bob Dylan (he got better)
Sparks
Slade
Abba
David Bowie
Led Zeppelin
Jacksons
Queen

With Rod Stewart (Maggie May and I don't want to talk about it) and Roxy Music on standby. Perhaps ELO too.

Yes, I know the Sex Pistols only produced two great tracks but at a stretch you can add Public Image to Anarchy and Vacant and, anyway, they were much more than just another rock group.

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Comments

Re the Pistols, in my view, 'Holidays in the Sun' is superb as is EMI and 'Bodies" has the greatest use of swearing on record.

What about The Rolling Stones? They've got a raft of great 70s songs. Every album from 68's Beggar's Banquet through to Some Girls is an absolute gem. My favourite 3 tracks from the top of my head, erm, Soul Survivor off of Exile, Memory Motel off of Black and Blue and Beast of Burden on Some Girls. Throw in Winter, Starf**ker, Brown Sugar, It's only Rock N' Roll and Respectable and you've got a shoo in.

The Who? Who's Next came out in 1971 and Quadrophenia in 1973 which each have enough great tracks to satisfy your entry requirements.

This arbitrary 70s,80s,90s separation is a bit hard on bands that only got going in the latter half of the decade. What about the Police, Talking Heads or Chic that did good stuff either side of 1980?

Posted by Mark Holland on October 20, 2004

At risk of this turning into one of those fifth-form "discussions" that turns into a punch up:

I have never liked "Holidays in the Sun". Lord knows I've tried. I just don't get it. To me it sounds like contractual obligations.

I cannot comment on the Rolling Stones's 70s output. I've always thought them a bit overrated. Weren't their first five No1s all covers or something?

Like the Rolling Stones I would regard the Who as a 60s band. Having said that Joy Division got into the 1980s despite not making it to 1981. Mind you, they were desperate.

Funnily enough I was going through my Police collection only today. I was hard pressed to put one track on the great pile. So lonely? That one about the "dark Scottish lake"?

Chic? Hmm. They did stuff in the 1980s? Talking Heads? I was put off them permanently after being dragged along to see a film of them in concert. I may need some reminding

Posted by Patrick Crozier on October 20, 2004

You're quite possibly right about the early Stones hits being R&B covers, Not Fade Away, etc but, I think, that's what young bands did back then. Andrew Loog Oldham had to convince Mick & Keith they could and should write their own songs - they'd get more money if nothing else.

Like the Beatles, I prefer the Stones from 1967 onwards. My mum is the otherway around. I think that was when both groups and others changed from "pop" to "rock". I can see, though, why the Stones are considered a 60s even though they continued to make superb stuff right through to 1978. Tattoo You and Steel Wheels of 1981 and 1989 are both highly respectable too mind you.

The Stones' best 60s tracks in my opinion, possibly for another time really, regardless, Paint it black, Jumping Jack Flash and 2000 light years.

Talking Heads - Psycho Killer, Once in a lifetime and Girlfriend is better, all top class.

What are your ABBA tunes given Winner Takes it All and Thank You for the music came out in the 1980s?

Posted by Mark Holland on October 20, 2004

Surely The Clash over the Pistols? Led Zeppelin obviously - the biggest omission by far from the original list.

And what are people like Bob Marley, U2, ELvis and Madonna doing on a British list?

Elvis Costello? Van Morrison?

Posted by Alan Little on October 21, 2004

not to mention David Bowie

Posted by Alan Little on October 21, 2004

The original chart compilers are obviously using chart positions and, apart from one or two very early ones, Led Zep didn't release singles in the UK.

That's why I like Patrick's system better. Led Zep get in and the likes of the Bay City Rollers don't.

Posted by Mark Holland on October 21, 2004

I think it is quite reasonable for non-UK performers to appear on a list chosen by UK subjects/residents. The UK bit referring to who's doing the choosing rather than who's doing the performing.

I don't think the shortlist compilers were going by chart success. I am pretty sure Bob Marley was never that big a seller. On that subject you can discern the baleful dictates of political correctness:

Chairman: "Now, who's going to be our token black and token woman…"

I think I would have gone for Diana Ross and killed two birds with one stone.

Abba? Obviously not an Abba fan? Up until "Does your mother know?" I don't think there is a single single I don't like. In fact, to me, they are of such a uniformly high quality it is difficult to choose one above the others.

Clash. Musically, they were better than the Sex Pistols. No question. Hey, they stuck around for more than 3 months - they were bound to be. And I had no difficulty in compiling my list of three: "This is England", "Straight to Hell", "Train in vain". But then, as I hinted, the Pistols (like the Stones before them) were as much a cultural phenomenon as they ever were a musical one. And Joe Strummer was the most almighty pseud.

Elvis Costello. There's another artist I never quite "got". I kept wishing that he would finish a song for once rather than getting half way and then moving on. Also his politics. I think Oliver's Army (the institution rather than the song) was a rather good thing.

Posted by Patrick Crozier on October 21, 2004

Where is Chuck Berry, the guy they all copied??

Posted by Patrick Crozier on October 22, 2004