rock and roll revisionism

According to the news release, Toronto’s rock and roll Analogue Gallery is poised to pit punk against rap, starting May 1.

That’s right: Punk vs. Rap. It’s the fierce musical battle you never knew existed.

“Choose a side, or explore together,” the curiously confrontational announcement suggests. Now just exactly why punk rock, the folk music of the 1970s and beyond, is considered an adversary of rap, the folk music of the 1980s and beyond, is not made clear. The photos offered as examples of the imminent battle are of Run-DMC, the rappers who crossed-over into rock, and The Clash, rockers who dared to rap. So, uh, there’s that.

Choose a side, folks. If you must. The exhibition runs ’til the end of May, at which time the gallery will presumably launch a Beatles vs. Stones display, or perhaps Gregorian chants vs. hymns. Because, you know, those pictures aren’t going to promote themselves.

Besides, evidence suggests the mining of rock and roll’s storied past is nearing completion. Surprisingly.

How else does one explain the recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of the E Street Band? I mean, decent band and all, but surely their Boss’s membership in the Hall came with some sort of acknowledgement of his backing band’s contributions. Previous inductees such as Elvis Costello and Bob Wills were in fact added to the Performers category together with their best-known sidemen. The E Street Band, however, did not enter as Performers, but were instead honoured with the Award for Musical Excellence, a category previously reserved for producers and other behind-the-scenes figures. The move is perhaps good news for The Detroit Wheels, The Pacemakers, The JBs, The Revolution and The Hand People. But The E Street Band’s musical excellence is rather dependent on its frontman’s material. And there are some pretty excellent musicians still waiting to be admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But hey, I’ll admit The E Street Band never did a lot for me. So I could be wrong. Perhaps the group accomplished many great things without the Boss standing in front of it, that I just haven’t heard. I mean, there was Little Steven’s Sun City project. And I don’t know about you, but I am proud to say I have never played Sun City. Never will. Just as Little Steven advised.

So fine. Let the E Streeters into the Hall of Fame. Better, let’s stage a Springsteen vs. The E Street Band photo exhibition somewhere.

If only there were a gallery to host it.

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