Rev. Todd Baker’s Picks for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020/2021 (Uncensored!)

Rev. Todd Baker’s Picks for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020/2021


Well, it’s that time again. Every October I wait for Rolling Stone to list the new RRHOF nominee’s and every year I get more pissed off at their choices. First of all, FUCK Jann Wenner! I for one am glad he is “retiring.” He has always been a self-centered, arrogant douchebag who likes to hold grudges against people based on his personal opinions. Although, I’m not too thrilled that the head of I-Heart Radio is replacing him. Could it possibly get any worse? Now, I have had a problem with the whole nominating process for over two decades. Mainly for the fact they stopped inducting artists based on chronology! For the first ten years or so they strictly followed rock and roll’s timeline, but somewhere things went askew. That’s how we got such undeserving members as Madonna, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Janet Jackson and Radiohead!


I also feel “THEY” need to do a better job of choosing who gets to induct the lucky winners. Is it too much to ask for a presenter with even an inkling of connection to the artist being honored? How many times is Kid Rock or Tom Morelli going to give another speech? Even worse, some up and coming band the Hall felt the need to promote. Fuck that! We need better presenters, preferably current/future members of RRHOF! And what ever happened to the big JAM at the end? That idea seems to have faded away. These people aren’t dead. Well, many aren’t. Get them on stage! Ace Frehley and Joe Walsh jamming with Eddie Van Halen and Slash! Hell, why aren’t these bands touring together for fun? Mix it up! Springsteen opening for Cheap Trick!


Obviously, this whole selection process is subjective, as are my opinions on the topic. However, I am basing my choices (mostly) on hard, cold facts: Can you name three hits? Did they have a platinum record? Are they still performing or on the radio? Groundbreakers are different. They get a pass on hits and sales. My goal here is to correct several obvious snubs made on the part of RRHOF and Jann Wenner specifically. It is time to stop letting the New York music critics cock block the rock and let the PEOPLE have their say. In that spirit, I would like to submit my list of 25 bands, sidemen, producers, solo artists and singer/songwriters who deserve to be inducted NOW. Unfortunately, these days the dummies running this joint can barely induct five bands each year. They USED to induct a dozen or more…bring that back. I think all 25 could be inducted in two classes! So, here is my list of worthy members. Fuck Kraftwerk, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Blink 182 and especially Biggie Smalls until THESE bands are in!


 Class of 2020 and their presenters


1)      The Meters: (Inducted by Trombone Shorty)

Considering “Sissy Strut” has been sampled by nearly every wanna-be d.j. in the history of hip hop, 

there should be NO more rappers until THESE guys are inducted!


2)      The Swampers/Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section: (Patterson Hood)

They backed up Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Staple Sisters, Paul Simon and more. 

       Skynyrd sang their praise. The Stones and Bob Seger recorded at their studio.


3)      Jim Croce: (A.J. Croce) Accepted by his wife Ingrid

Died too soon. Plane crash. Like Otis, had his biggest hit after his death.

Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, Time in a Bottle, Don’t Mess Around With Jim


4)      Ted Nugent: (Kid Rock---Hey, He DESERVES this intro)

Yes, when it comes to politics, he is bat-shit crazy but you can’t deny him. He meets all the criteria and even at his age Ted is still a bad-ass guitar player. The Nuge belongs in! Cat Scratch Fever, Stranglehold, Wango Tango, Great White Buffalo, Free For All


5)      Blue Oyster Cult: (Will Farrell—More Cowbell!)

Huge in the 70’s! KISS opened for THEM. STILL on tour and the radio every day!

Godzilla, Burnin’ For You, Don’t Fear the Reaper, Cities on Flame, Joan Crawford


6)      Judas Priest: (Axl Rose)

Breaking the Law, Living After Midnight, Screaming For Vengence. Boom!

Created the “Heavy metal look”. First band to be sued for killing their fans.


7)      Ozzy Osbourne: Solo Artist (Sharon Osbourne)

If Ringo Starr is in for his solo work, Ozzy deserves to be for his!

“Crazy Train” is now in car commercials and played at every NFL game.


8)      Randy Rhoads: Sideman (Ozzy Osbourne)

Played in Quiet Riot before joining Ozzy. Still considered one of the greatest.


9)      Bob Ezrin: Producer (Alice Cooper)

Produced ALL of Alice’s greatest hits: I’m 18, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies… 

      Lou Reed: Berlin, KISS: Destroyer (and The Elder), Pink Floyd: The Wall and more.


10)  Warren Zevon: Singer/Songwriter (Jackson Browne) Accepted by Jordan Zevon

LONG overdue. Musical genius. I miss him nearly every day.

FINAL JAM: Jackson Browne / Bruce Springsteen / Bob Dylan / Bonnie Raitt / Stevie Nicks / Joe Walsh / Don Henley / Waddy Wachtel / Patterson Hood 

                                    NO Werewolves! Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me>Play it All Night Long>Keep Me In Your Heart

                                                                        Not a dry eye in the house.


  CLASS OF 2021 (Classic Rock and 80’s Metal)


11)  The Doobie Brothers: (Cheech and Chong)

They deserve to be in for the name alone. Plus, their episode of “What’s Happening”. 

      China Grove, Black Water, Listen to the Music, Jesus is Just Alright


12)  Foreigner: (Rod Stewart)

Headknocker, Hot Blooded, Urgent, Double Vision, Cold As Ice, Juke Box Hero

Classic rock, mega hits, still touring, unlike Rage Against the Machine!


13)  Pat Benetar: (Neil Gilardo) Although, he will probably demand to get an award, too. 

      Female Rock Pioneer. Heartbreaker, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Fire and Ice, You Better Run


14)  Joe Walsh: (Jimmy Bufffett)                                                                                          

      James Gang. Coolest member of Eagles. Should have been President in 1980!            

      Turn To Stone, Rocky Mountain Way, Life’s Been Good, The Confessor


15)  The Runaways: (Rodney Bingenheimer)

Groundbreakers! First female rock band launching Joan Jett/Lita Ford.

Cherry Bomb (RIP Kim Fowley), You Drive Me Wild


16)  Bad Company: (Jimmy Page)

Paul Rogers on vocals. First band Zeppelin signed to Swan Song Records.

Bad Company, Feel Like Making Love, Moving On, Good Loving Gone Bad


17)  Meatloaf: (Jim Steinman)

Bat Out of Hell sold 43 Million copies!  Only Back in Black and Thriller sold more.   

      Two out of Three Ain’t bad, Paradise By the Dashboard Light, I Would Do Anything..


18)  Boston: (Todd Rundgren)

Two big records with half a dozen hits that are STILL on the radio every day!

More Than A Feeling, Rock and Roll Band, Peace of Mind, Don’t Look Back, Smokin’


19)  REO Speedwagon: (Neal Schon)

Kinda lame now, but in their day they ROCKED! Once Gary Richrath left it was over.

Riding the Storm Out, Roll With The Changes, Keep On Loving You, Take It on the Run


20)  Styx: (Rick Neilson)

Very similar story to REO, which is why they tour together so often. Can’t deny the hits.

Babe, Lady, Crystal Ball, Come Sail Away, Blue Collar Man, Renegade, Mr. Roboto


21)  Twisted Sister: (Alice Cooper)

Paid their dues the hard way, eventually got their hits and made a career out of it.        

     You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll, I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Gonna Take It.


22)  Quiet Riot: (Eddie Trunk)

Technically, two big hits, but they were pioneers of early L.A. metal and deserve a spot.

Metal Health, Cum On Feel the Noise, Mama Weer All Crazee Now


23)  Motley Crue: (David Lee Roth)

Bad Boys of 80’s metal. Took rock decadence to a new level. Retired before they died.

Shout at the Devil, Looks That Kill, Home Sweet Home, Girls-Girls-Girls, Dr. Feelgood,


24) Motorhead/Lemmy: (Scott Ian)
Groundbreaker. Only one big hit, unless you count the cover of Louie Louie, but c’mon. He was a legend. There will never be another

Lemmy. Ace of Spades.

25) Ronnie James Dio: Solo Artist (Ritchie Blackmore--How BAD-ASS would that be?)

ENCORE: Man on the Silver Mountain / The Mob Rules / Rainbow in the Dark

CLASS OF 2022 and Beyond

Iron Maiden, Rainbow, UFO, Scorpions, Ratt, Poison, Ministry/Trent Reznor, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Tool, Rage Against The Machine, Pantera, The Replacements, Big Star and Devo.

After THAT you can let in Sonny & Cher, The Monkees, The Carpenters, Peter Frampton, George Thorogood, Foghat, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Kansas. (And I fucking HATED Kansas)

After THAT you can let in Chic, Todd Rundgren, Kraftwerk, Puff Daddy and whatever lame-ass douchebags the people who run I-Heart radio deem worthy. My work here is done. Discuss. - Rev Todd.

Album Review: Willie Phoenix / Backstage Rain - by Colin Gawel

Listen while you read! - Click here for a Willie Spotify Playlist

Listening party for Backstage Rain Sunday October 20th @ Little Rock Bar (944 N. 4th 43201) 6-8pm

Willie Phoenix releases new music at a pace that must make even fellow Ohio rock n roll legend Guided By Voices mainman Bob Pollard jealous. Except Willie releases are usually just handed out in a bar or suddenly appear online with little notice. There is no promo. No vinyl . No budget.  His latest - Backstage Rain - by Willie Phoenix and The Soul Underground (some releases are just Willie Phoenix) recently popped up on Spotify and it’s one of his best. Ever. Keep in mind, Willie has been releasing records since the late 60’s, and has literally thousands of unreleased tracks in his vaults as well. If this sounds strange, then welcome to the mysterious world of Willie Phoenix . Click here to read an excellent story by Joel Oliphint to learn a little more.  

The album opens with the rollicking Boogie Loud. As the songs hits it chorus of “Boogie Loud, Boogie Proud” Willie’s voice is so strong I’m literally concerned it may shred the speakers of my car stereo. This album is not mixed for earbuds, only woofers do it justice.  Somewhere in his mid-sixties, Mr. Phoenix’s voice still puts to shame younger blues purists/pretenders like The Black Keys and White Stripes. He has never sounded better. 

Midway through the first song, just as the listener is getting comfortable, it’s takes an unexpected turn into pop psychedelia. While shocking to a first time listener, longtime fans of Willie know he is a master of many a rock n roll genre and is not afraid to jump between them. 

The second track, Drivin’ with the Blues, sounds just like the title suggests. While it’s pretty much a straightforward blues romp, it’s interesting to note the lyric “driving with the blues since 1992.” One gets the sense that Willie has been through some hard times in the years following.  Happy Blues is a Bo Diddley-inspired burst of garage rock but it’s the middle tracks on the record where Backstage Rain moves into rare air.

It’s Gonna Rain  is the kind of blues people sell their soul for at the crossroads. This isn’t your corner bar band blues.  It could be the best track by Buddy Guy or Black Sabbath. And remember Willie isn’t a follower, he is a contemporary of those acts. His father, the Reverend Willie Creigh Sr. played with Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. In fact, Sonny is Willie’s Godfather. Willie was invited to join Muddy’s band following a show in Cincinnati in 1976 but declined to continue his own path. This is the real thing. And the guitar playing is ...well…I'd sell my soul to play like that. 

Just as I am recovering from It’s Gonna Rain, the next song, Tell the World About Love, is an upbeat Stax record romp that Otis Redding could have cut. I fully realize what I am going to write next and I mean it: In small doses, Willie Phoenix is as good as Buddy Guy AND Otis Reading. How many artists can say that?

Big Whiskey Woman is another blazing Hendrix-esque rocker that I find myself going back to over and over. It sounds like a lost gem from the Willie Phoenix Flower Machine project from thirty years ago.  White Rabbit Flies an Airplane follows and it is the only misstep on the record. It might have made for a nifty b-side, but it’s in over its head surrounded by these songs.

Because… the next track, I’m Flying, is also a stunner. We get the real Willie Phoenix singing about his town of Columbus, Ohio and his life of surviving only as an artist and what that entails. Yes, when I say Willie Phoenix has never earned a penny except through music, that is exactly the truth and all the good & bad associated with that kind of life. This might be the most honest record Willie has released since Nothin’ But Rock N Roll

At this point I should add that this record is self-produced, as all his records have been since he left A&M Records in the 1983. Despite his current blues leanings, as a producer The Beatles are never far from Willie’s mind. The fabs inform almost everything he puts to tape . I suppose I should include The Kinks and Stones too. Perhaps British Invasion-inspired blues would be the proper description of this Backstage Rain on Spotify. Because Willie records with a limited budget, the sounds don’t always sound as slick as they might, but the ideas are almost always on the money.  Willie is a fantastic producer and all sorts of little surprises reveal themselves on repeat listening. (I attached a couple Watershed tunes in the playlist that Willie produced when we were just kids. He did an amazing job)

Anyway, I just hit the high points so go give the damn thing a listen already.  If you want a deep dive, get on Facebook and visit: Shadowlords - The Willie Phoenix Fanpages. It’s where fellow Phoenix-ologists gather to trade all things Willie. Even better, join us at Little Rock Bar on Sunday October 20th from 6-8 pm for a Backstage Rain listening party. Bring your rare Willie records and stories, too. 

Colin Gawel founded Pencilstorm and wrote this at Colin’s Coffee. He plays in the band Watershed and Willie Phoenix produced their first record back in the day. He is currently working on the Willie Phoenix Radio Hour with Brian Phillips, Ricki C. and Biggie. 

For further reading, click here for The Ballad of Willie Phoenix by Ricki C.

Hey, I’m Spinning Records at Woodlands Tavern - by Colin Gawel

I so wanted to title this “I’m spinning vinyls at Woodlands” but didn’t have the guts to go through with it. Anyhoo, Woodland’s Tavern on 3rd Ave is starting a new series hosted by Floorwalkers frontman Jon Elliott and I’m joining him for the debut show on Tuesday, October 8th. 7-9pm. Free. 

The idea is pretty simple. A couple guys play a bunch of records and tell stories and hopefully a bunch of folks drink beer and sorta listen. Since I know some real record collectors, I don’t consider myself an actual record guy, but I suppose I probably have 200 or so scattered around my house and maybe once owned closer to 500? Or 700?

See, growing up in Worthington, OH, myself and the other Watershed guys started riding the COTA #2 bus down to the campus record stores at a young age to blow our paper route money on used records. It was a weekly ritual from about 6th grade until records got replaced by CDs. When people ask me why I got into writing songs and playing music, I give all the credit to the #2 bus and the campus record stores. 

We almost never paid full price for a record unless it was something brand new from Cheap Trick or The Kinks and we just had to have it NOW. But other than that, we would just comb the bins every Saturday weighing quality versus quantity. I’ve still got price tags on some of my records including an excellent condition Born to Run from Used Kids Records for….$1! And I got the double record The River for $2. Folks, that’s what I call value. Obviously these records were priced before Jerry DeCicca started working there. 

A couple other random memories off the top of my head:

Asking Ron House what Bob Dylan record I should buy, “Highway 61 would be good for someone like you.”

Purchasing Rush - Grace Under Pressure at Singing Dogs, stepping onto High Street and barfing. I had chicken pox and summer was just starting. Oof. Not cool when you are 12. But at least I had a new record.

Johnny Go showing me an Aerosmith album I HAD NEVER HEARD OF. That’s right, pre-internet it was possible to discover a record by one of your favorite bands that you never even knew existed. In this case it was Night in the Ruts. Oh Chiquita!

I bought Styx Cornerstone and never listened to it once.

I asked Captain what Jerry Lee Lewis record I should get. “If you like Jerry, they are all great, if you don’t like Jerry they all suck.” Turns out I like Jerry.

Eventually, Watershed moved down High Street to campus and combined most of our records. Instead of a bus before record shopping it became bars before shopping. The picture on the cover of this story captures that vibe. It is interesting to note that Biggie, Joe , Herb and I had somehow had five copies of Blue Oyster Cult - Some Enchanted Evening. So someone bought it twice. It must have been really cheap because it’s really not very good. As records went out of style and we moved apart, we cherry-picked the stuff we wanted to hold on to. “Hands off that Billy Squier, asshole.” 

Anyway, I don’t quite have the cash flow to keep buying records every weekend but I still love hanging out in record stores and when I can justify it, buying a new record. My son asked for a record player for his 16th birthday so I’ll take that as a sign that it's time for me to pass the obsession to the next generation. - Colin G.

Colin Gawel founded Pencilstorm and wrote this while ignoring customers at Colin’s Coffee. He plays in the band Watershed and solo with The League Bowlers.

Record Review: The Replacements / Dead Man's Pop - by Jeremy Porter

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST - Listen while you read!

In early 1989 expectations were high for The Replacements as they were about to follow up two major-label commercial misses with their third record for Sire, Don’t Tell A Soul. They’d always been under-the-radar, under-appreciated, and under-achieving, but there was a buzz in the air that this might be the one that breaks the curse. The album would live in infamy as their best-selling, highest charting and most polarizing release. What hasn’t been said about Don’t Tell A Soul? It’s got some great stuff on it, but the dated, murky, reverb-and-chorus drenched 80’s production has haunted its legacy ever since the grunge movement gave us a kick in the pants and a harsh reminder that albums were better when they sounded like they were made by real bands playing real instruments.


Still – they were going for it, for better or worse. They were on TV, there were magazine covers, posters in record stores, a big-time summer tour opening for Tom Petty, and even [gasp] a real video. Where it went from there is, well, depressing. Many see DTAS as the beginning of the end (though I might argue that moment came when Bob Stinson was fired in 1986). Their 1991 swan-song follow-up All Shook Down, while more organic and loose sounding, lacked the teeth of any of their previous records, and they limped to the finish line, sounding tired and sober, promoting a record that was decent, but more or less a Westerberg solo album from the start.

I’m in the “like the album, hate the production” camp when it comes to DTAS. I missed Bob, but I liked Slim, and I understood even then that bands evolve and why they made that change. “Talent Show,“ “I’ll Be You,“ “They’re Blind,” and the under-rated “Back to Back” stood out to me, and I think “Achin’ to Be” is up there with Paul’s best. I hated the trying-too-hard-not-to-try tracks like “Rock and Roll Ghost” and “I Won’t.” The rest is somewhere in the middle – it’s no ”Let it Be” but God knows I played the hell out if it that summer and saw them three times on that tour. (Read about a couple of those times here.) While I struggled with the fact that they weren’t “my” band anymore, I was happy to see them getting some of the attention they deserved. Like everyone else I watched with a big smile when they played “Talent Show” on the International Rock Awards that spring, flanked by performances from Keith Richards and The Bangles while Matt Dillon watched and smiled, one of the few in the building that “got it.”

Over the years the legacy of the album took a beating. Only the most loyal and biased fans claim the album as a favorite and the production as an asset. There were always rumors of an original mix, the one the band wanted, but not the one that the label released. The story goes that Paul hated the final mix, and that’s probably a part of why I hated it too. Hearing what the band had in mind for these songs has always been at the top of hard-core fans’ wish lists, right along with a live DVD (that we’ve yet to see) and a proper live album (which we got in 2017 with the incredible For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986)


Then, earlier this year came word about Dead Man’s Pop – a 4CD/1LP and limited edition cassette release. This is the holy grail we’ve been waiting for, from the post-Bob era anyways. As excited as I was about For Sale two years earlier, I’d been listening to a great bootleg recording of that show for 30 years. This was different – a ton of stuff no one’s ever heard, a sweet package, and hopefully the redemption that material deserves.

Disc One is the Matt Wallace mix of the album. This is a new mix, but one that recalls the original that the band had in mind before the label got involved. Gone is the polish and spit-shine that muddied up the sound. The backup vocals are louder, the guitars are more present and clear, and the drums sound more natural, just like we'd hoped. The takes are mostly the same, but the performances shine. They sound like what they were - a band struggling to bridge their rambunctious past with their more-focused present, while not letting either get too close or too far away.

Stripping the production down exposes more than just the sounds they were making - there's an exciting spontaneity and beautiful vulnerability present now, offering up that elusive element in great music that we love but can't often define. The differences between these mixes and the originals are present throughout, but less obvious in songs like "Achin to Be" and "I'll Be You," and more so on "They're Blind," "Darlin' One," and "Rock and Roll Ghost." Even my least favorite song on the record "I Won't" sounds like it should - pissed off and ornery, more like "IOU" from Pleased to Meet Me and less like some aging punks trying to sound half their age. The guitar solo on "They're Blind" is one of my favorite moments on the original release, but the alternate solo here might be even better. This is the record it was supposed to be, and had it been, we can only wonder how history would look back on it.

Disc Two is a collection of outtakes, demos, alt-mixes, and a few tracks from the session with Tom Waits that produced the "I'll Be You" B-Side "Date to Church." While this stuff is solid gold to a dork like me who's been waiting to hear it for 30 years, it's more typical of a deluxe-edition package for real fans rather than a cohesive, flowing collection. Still there's great stuff to digest. The up-tempo, solo-acoustic take on "Rock 'N' Roll Ghost" is maybe the most honest of all the versions. "Talent Show" and "We'll Inherit The Earth" are significantly more rockin' than any other renditions, and the stripped down "They're Blind" is a more intimate take than heard on the album. The greatly restrained "I'll Be You" is interesting, but pales against the Wallace mix or even the original release, and might have fit better on the equally restrained All Shook Down. A couple previously unheard songs "Last Thing In The World" and "Dance on My Planet" are welcome, as is any unheard song written and sung by Paul Westerberg, but do little to dispute my long-standing opinion that bonus tracks more often than not didn't make the album for a reason.

The Tom Waits tracks are a novelty, and as a huge Waits fan, I take no joy in saying that with the exception of a few brief moments, they'll likely have little staying power and don't add much beyond a document of a drunken night in LA. To hear Waits croon "If Only You Were Lonely" or Westerberg sing "Ol' 55" with some real effort would have been diamonds here, but the former is a sloppy, half-assed struggle and the latter was sadly left off the collection. Of the Waits tracks, the full-band version of "We Know The Night" is easily the standout, and drives home the fact that the rehearsal take that preceded it could have been excluded. The Wallace remix of "Date to Church" is refreshing, fits perfectly with the first disc, and reminds us that something productive and worthwhile actually came out of that session. It's safe to say that disc two will get the fewest spins of this collection, but this is material that deserves to be heard, belongs on this collection, and is far from a wash.

 Discs three and four are a live recording from the 1989 Milwaukee show that produced the "Inconcerated" promo EP. While it's not the gloriously raw and in-your-face explosion that For Sale: Live at Maxwell's is, it's a spirited, up-tempo, energetic and abrasive document of that tour. They can't be accused of phoning it in this night. This was Slim's second tour with the `mats and his presence is felt - his lanky figure meandering around stage left, goofy smile, crazy hair, and tasty riffs. It's the best version of "Talent Show" that there is - studio or live. "We might even win this fucker, ya never know." Paul sings, ad-libbing like he did better than anyone when he felt like it. His vocals lead the way throughout, often going up when he stayed level on the record. There's warts too - Slim's amp shorting and squealing throughout "The Ledge" has Paul agitated, tuning issues ruin “Little Mascara” and “Can’t Hardly Wait”, and “Here Comes A Regular” suffers as both rushed and lazy at the same time, but they left them in, as they should have. It's imperfect, it’s fun, it's raw, it's rock and roll, it's The Replacements.


The box set delivers - it's a fantastic package that covers what should have been, the journey there, and the live culmination of that demo-record-tour cycle that is such a big part of this bands legacy. It takes a miss and makes it a hindsight-hit. There's a dose of healthy nostalgia here too, talking me back to Ann Arbor, March 10, 1989 on the opening night of that tour. They say there's plenty more in the vaults, but I'm not sure anything could match this due to the sheer NEED for the redemption that "Don't Tell a Soul" deserved alone. It's Christmas time, Replacements fans. Drink it up.

Jeremy Porter lives near Detroit and fronts the rock and roll band Jeremy Porter And The Tucos -

Follow them on Facebook to read his road blog about their adventures on the dive-bar circuit - 
Twitter: @jeremyportermi | Instagram: @onetogive & @jeremyportermusic | #rockandrollrestrooms