Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 23, 2013

Public Enemy, Albert King, Randy Newman & the ’13 Hall of Fame

English: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleve...

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio; architect: I. M. Pei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Randy Newman at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritag...

Randy Newman at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music guru Buster Mixmaster here, guest-hosting a segment of Marking Time. Cuz these be MY jams, brutha.

I must be off my game. Somehow it escaped me till today how much I utterly adore this year’s Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees (inducted April 19 in L.A.):

Of all of them– and despite being a mixmaster and up-and-coming rapper– I am definitely the most fond of the very literary and frequently hilarious Randy “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” Newman. Just because he started working for Disney sometimes, don’t mean he ever sold out to The Man completely… he just like The Man’s money.

Here’s a small Newman-related clip from the Rolling Stone article on the induction ceremony, to make my case:

Don Henley inducted Newman, lamenting the long delay in his inclusion in the hall of fame, and citing a Newman performance he just saw in Texas: “When you can get 2,000 people to applaud a song like ‘Rednecks‘ in a state that’s elected Rick Perry three times, you are a hell of an artist!”

“It’s hard for me to express a genuine emotion,” Newman said, “as you can tell from my writing. But I’m very happy to receive this award. And I hope the fact that I rushed my own song a little earlier doesn’t mean I get kicked out on my first night in.”

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I’m also quite glad Quincy Jones is getting his due from the rockers… since jazz doesn’t have much of a Hall of Fame to speak of (I think there’s something in Kansas City, Basie’s hometown). Michael Jackson would at best have been the Duke of Pop if not for Quincy:

Jones gave a long, heartfelt speech full of praise for the jazz greats he collaborated with, including Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. “The first rock & roll bands for me were Louis Jordan and Lionel Hampton,” he said.
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If you have not heard any of Louis Jordan’s jump blues from the 40s and 50s, then go looking for it! What’s wrong with you? You call yourself a rock fan?  Jordan’s as much a founder of rock as Little Richard or Elvis ever were… he just never got the proper credit from the right people.

However, Rush –for the most part– was the big story here… as their cultish legion of fans have been pressing for their induction many years now. Maybe it was the Canadian thing that kept them out? (For the record, I’m not quite in that cult… a moderate fan, but never went overboard for Rush… though Neil Peart is a unique and terrific lyricist, quite underrated.)

Public Enemy... as youngsters!

Public Enemy… as youngsters!


Lastly, and most importantly:

I gotta give my props to Public Enemy. They did after all teach how me to Fight The Power, and now it will take a nation of millions to hold me back. Chuck D in particular is just a genius… well-educated on life, politics, history, music and philosophy/morality far beyond any rapper who has come along since then (name me one other who comes close?). PE were the original “conscious” hip hop group… though the prior hip hop inductees Chuck mentions below definitely had their hearts and politics in the right place– before gangsta rap and all the look-at-me-me-me posers exerted their heavy and usually foul influence.

Here’s a clip from a different RS article, more specifically about the influential role of bluesman Albert King on the musical pastiche of PE’s sound:

Public Enemy’s Chuck D: Albert King ‘Was Always Terminator X’s Main Dude’
By Eric Helton, April 19, 2013

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night, Public Enemy’s Chuck D had high praise for one of his 2013 classmates, the late blues guitarist Albert King. The rap group’s chaotic wall of sound was deeply inspired by “the power in those chords on those Stax recordings,” he said. “Albert King was always Terminator X’s main dude.”

Public Enemy were once introduced to the imposing bluesman while on tour in Sydney, Australia, Chuck D recalled: “Terminator was touched to meet him. And I think a month and a half later, Albert King passed away.

Like the hip-hop acts who were inducted before them – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C. [click-thru here for my MT blog post on them]. , and the Beastie Boys – Public Enemy’s induction will help pave the way for other hip-hop acts to be recognized as part of the rock & roll tradition, he said. “Not just to be inducted into a club, but for people to be able to come into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, people saying, ‘Well, you know, this kind of fits. It works’ . . . It’s not what we can do for ourselves, but what we could do for others. I know it sounds kind of corny, but we’re here because of the efforts of guys before us.”

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So, …according to RS, the taped ceremony (always a treat) will run on HBO on May 18. HBO!?! What about VH1? That’s where I always catch it! Jerks. I’ll take a look later this spring, see if it runs anywhere for “free”.

Meanwhile, I’m off to put on my copy of Randy Newman’s  most recent studio release, Harps and Angels (2008). The man has continued to astound me, long after the minor “hits” that everyone seems to think is all he ever did (besides the movie music). But, I get it. It’s like the Dylan phenomenon: five straight Billboard Top 10 studio records in the past decade, and hardly anybody can name them, or sing a song that appears on them. So… with Newman: if you’re going to start somewhere, start with 1972’s Sail Away, a sort of “Southern life” concept album, featuring the aforementioned Rednecks plus several other classics. If you don’t want to buy it, your local library will most likely have it…

…and look for Randy’s work this summer on “Monsters University” from Disney/Pixar. It’s going to be a fine summer from what I can see… at least for music fans.

To quote another famous rocker named Chuck: “Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n Roll!”

Mixmaster OUT.


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