Tuesday was a frustrating day. A lot went wrong on my way back into town after four days away. But I was not prepared to read in the paper that Journey had been inducted into the Rock and Hall of Fame. This is monstrous. This should never have happened. If I am ever in Cleveland I will not visit. A great idea (i.e., the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) has morphed into a hall of mediocrities.
Some of the inductees in recent years are just eye-rollers: Chicago, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Steve Miller – and now Journey. And, yes, I know that even the worst bands are the favorite bands of thousands of people, but that doesn’t mean that we should put Air Supply, America and Foghat (or Journey) in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aside: Two former sidemen of Steve Miller, Norton Buffalo and Boz Scaggs, should have gone in instead of Miller. End of aside.
Why do I hate Journey? I don’t. It’s silly to hate pop bands. I just think they are mediocre. It's like putting a utility infielder in the baseball Hall of Fame. What new ground did Journey cover? Whose minds did they change? Who did they inspire or influence? Their hit records sounded like classic rock oldies WHEN THEY WERE ON THE CHARTS. And they don’t age well. Full disclosure: I own two Journey albums, Look into the Future and Infinity. Why even bother putting out another album once you have ... moved into the infinite. And I liked the pre-Steve Perry work better.
And as a rock and roll aficionado who spent time in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can think of 12 bands with Bay Area ties who are more deserving: Doobie Brothers, Chris Isaak, Country Joe & the Fish, It's a Beautiful Day, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Tower of Power, the Rubinoos, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, the Tubes, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks and the Greg Kihn Band.
The Rubinoos, a fun little Berkeley power pop band, used to MAKE FUN OF JOURNEY by playing in its club shows a satiric version of Journey’s dreadful 1980 top 25 hit “Any Way You Want It.” What does that tell you?
And as a fan of 1980s ska bands I would prefer to see Madness, the English Beat, the Specials, Bad Manners and General Public in the Hall of Fame instead of Journey. And even Dave Wakeling as a solo act.
And as a fan of British pub rock I would rather see Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Brinsley Schwarz and Graham Parker and the Rumour inducted. And Joe Jackson.
And as a fan of American roots pop I would rather see the Blasters, the Bo Deans and Marshall Crenshaw inducted. Or the Kentucky Headhunters. Or country outlaw Dwight Yoakam. Or country legend Merle Haggard. Or Lucinda Williams, Carly Simon, Dire Straits, Iron City Houserockers, John Prine, Todd Rundgren, Alan Parsons (as a producer or a project). Kid Creole and the Coconuts. And on and on.
And what about Jethro Tull? Innovative. Imaginative. Unique style. Crazy lead singer. “Benefit” is one of the most underrated albums in history. They have it all. Why aren’t they in? And the Cure ... very influential and creative.
What about Grand Funk Railroad and Thin Lizzy? OK, I don’t mean those bands should be in but hear me out. “We’re an American Band” by Grand Funk and Thin Lizzy’s “Boys are Back in Town” are better songs than ANYTHING Journey has recorded.
And the J. Geils Band. J died the other day. No plaque. Easily better than Journey. And X. Extremely influential L.A. band. What’s up with that? Or Joy Division. or Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes or Steve Van Zandt, Maria Muldaur, the Boomtown Rats and Johnny Clegg
And I haven’t even gotten to New Orleans yet. Neville Brothers, Meters, Beausoleil, Clifton Chenier, Roy Rogers, Johnny Adams, Marcia Ball … they’re ALL better than Journey. Thank god Dr. John and Allen Toussaint are already in.
That’s it. Peace. Out.