- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

At this week’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland, Metallica frontman James Hetfield called for rock’s coastal cognoscenti to open its doors to the critically neglected likes of Rush and Ted Nugent. Coming from a guy whose band cultivated a grass-roots following years before it was embraced by critics, Mr. Hetfield’s gesture was appropriately noble.

1. Steve Miller — As his music is a staple of stale classic-rock radio, Mr. Miller’s bluesy pre-existence with Boz Scaggs is all but forgotten. Yet to point this out seems a slight to irresistible Miller classics such as “The Joker,” which have endured for reasons not limited to repetition and nostalgia.

2. Michael Crichton — It is tempting to attribute critical neglect of the late author-filmmaker to contemporary biases — against his global warming denialism and all that. Maybe it was the loud spectacle of the “Jurassic Park” film franchise or the erotic thriller “Disclosure”: Such popular successes perhaps made it easy to forget that Mr. Crichton was one of the most gifted science-fiction writers of the past 40 years.

3. Rush — Per Mr. Hetfield: Thetrio has flown under the critical radar for 40 years, beginning as Canada’s answer to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and morphing into a group of improbably popular prog-rock superstars. Their success (countless gold albums, numerous hit singles) has been achieved by their own lights, and their drummer, Neil Peart, is an Ayn Rand-inspired libertarian. What’s not to like?

4. Jim Carrey — Quietly, and not always successfully, the antic actor has amassed a deceptively smart body of work that, as James Parker of the Atlantic noted, qualifies as a “uniquely sustained engagement with the problem of the self.”

5. Chicago — Named for a city with a famous inferiority complex and associated perhaps overmuch with Peter Cetera, the ‘70s horn-laden hitmakers opened a vein in rock music for ambitious jazz proficiency without sacrificing the elemental need for great hooks. Second only to Steely Dan, Chicago’s members were musicians’ musicians.

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