The new nine-DVD set of performances from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies is certainly a head scratcher ‘ just as much as the Hall of Fame itself, I guess.
For one thing, there are no appearances whatsoever by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, The Eagles, The Police, David Bowie, Elton John, or Led Zeppelin. But there are ten ‘ yes, ten ‘ appearances by Bruce Springsteen. He’s sort of the Zelig of Jann Wenner’s invention.
Was there someone named Keith Richards in rock and roll? ‘Paul Simon? Art Garfunkel? Stevie Wonder? Michael Jackson? The Dells? Dion? Bobby “Blue” Bland? Not in this DVD set.
There’s also a real curiosity: Chubby Checker, doing “The Twist.” The Hall of Fame has so far refused to induct Chubby Checker, and he’s insisted on a statue of himself to be erected at the Cleveland Museum. The performance is from 1986, when the Hall of Fame was forming. Chubby probably thought he’d get in right after that. Sorry!
The DVDs are heavy on Springsteen, but also include three performances by The Pretenders, of all things. I love the Pretenders, and was at their induction, but three songs? Huh? At least there’s no Madonna, from her embarrassing induction. But there’s also no Sex Pistols, Talking Heads, or Ramones but Green Day instead doing “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
Eric Clapton checks in four times solo and three more times with Cream. There’s no Led Zeppelin, but Ann and Nancy Wilson ‘‘who are aka Heart ‘ play “Battle for Evermore.” Heart is not in the Hall of Fame, but they are now. So too are a bunch of others who happened to assist at performances including Sheryl Crow, Soul Asylum, Jonny Lang (from France), Joan Jett, and four ”four ‘‘appearances by non-member Eddie Vedder.
On the soul side, Aretha Franklin and Al Green are each included three times, and there’s a one whole disc devoted to classic R&B. But there’s no sign of Ray Charles (except for a Billy Joel tribute), Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, the Supremes, Sam Moore, or many other soul stars. On top of that, Isaac Hayes’s name is spelled wrong on the website. (So, too, is Blondie’s, which seems hard to do.)
The soul stars who are on the discs, however, do comprise Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Ben E. King, Ruth Brown, the Four Tops, Tina Turner, Percy Sledge, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Jerry Butler, the Staples Singers, Booker T and the MGs, The O’Jays,’ Solomon Burke and Wilson Pickett. The latter clip, of course, includes Bruce Springsteen.
There’s also no appearance by Van Morrison. Maybe that’s the reason he decided not to play at the Rock Hall’s 25th anniversary show next week. Mick Jagger does turn up a couple of times, but none of the other Stones roll with him.
Right now, Time Life is offering the discs for $120. As with all things Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including next week’s high priced shows, I have no idea where the money goes. To the artists? The museum? Into the ether? We’ll have to wait and see.