Hail! Hail!: 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class includes Gun N' Roses, Chili Peppers

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Guns N’ Roses, the metal amalgam best known for hits like “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” tops the 2012 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, announced this morning. Others to be honored this year: hip-hop trio Beastie Boys; rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers; the late singer/songwriter Laura Nyro; trip-rocker Donovan; and the seminal British rock group the Faces, which included Rod Stewart and future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. Also honored, as an early influence: Bluesman Freddie King. The late rock promoter Don Kirshner will receive the Ahmet Ertegun award. Tom Dowd, Glyn Johns and Cosimo Matassa will be honored, as well.

They will be honored on April 14, 2012, at the 27th Annual Induction Ceremony, held in Cleveland, Ohio. Visit rockhall.com for more details.

Nyro, composer of the Fifth Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues” and Blood Sweat and Tears’ “When I Die,” emerged from a ballot that also included female stars like Donna Summer, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Heart and Rufus with Chaka Khan. Hip-hop pioneers the Cure, Eric B. and Rakim, War and the Spinners also failed to make the cut.

Donovan is best known for 1960s-era counterculture hits like “Mellow Yellow.” Stewart has previously been inducted as a solo artist in 1994; Wood entered the hall with the Stones in 1989.

Here’s a look back at our thoughts on a few of the new inductees. Click through the titles for expanded coverage …

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – I’M WITH YOU (2011): Though they often play with a familiar steely aggression, the Red Hot Chili Peppers seem nevertheless to be rounding the corner into middle age. I’m With You, the band’s first project since the 2006 double-album Stadium Arcadium, is often focused on departures — of youth and of old friends, perhaps a direct reaction to the exit of guitarist John Frusciante. The longest layover in band history, clearly, gave them time to think. Still, this being the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and thunderous bassist Flea being, well, thunderous on the bass, you’d expect most of these ideas to be buried deep in the group’s trademark whomping frat-boy funk, right? Not so fast. This Rick Rubin-produced efforts ends up as the most layered, complex offering in a Peppers’ catalog dating back almost three decades.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – GREATEST HITS (2003): The Chili Peppers is one of those bands that I resisted. They were getting airplay from Mother’s Milk (“Higher Ground”, no doubt) and I just did not get it. Then Blood Sugar Sex Magik came out. This was the Peppers’ London Calling, their Dark Side Of The Moon (and hopefully not their Frampton Comes Alive). The funk was undeniable: killer guitar riffs and powerful in-the-pocket drumming, all anchored by Flea’s kinetic and soulful bass. So one day at work I’m listening to BSSM and a co-worker asks me if I’ve heard the ‘real’ Chili Peppers. He offers up his LP copies of Uplift Mofo Party Plan and Freaky Styley. Cripes, this stuff is nuts!

LAURA NYRO – LIVE AT THE BOTTOM LINE (1988): You may already have an idea of Laura Nyro’s music, which has been covered by the likes of Blood Sweat & Tears, 5th Dimension and Three Dog Night. It’s got a lot of soul, with dashes of folk, jazz and even a Broadway showtune occasionally thrown in for good measure. Sometimes she can be confused with Joni Mitchell or Carole King, even though she slightly preceded them both as stars. Todd Rundgren has built much of his solo career around trying to duplicate the intricate, yet sweet-sounding melodies that was this lady’s stock in trade. But none of that makes a great live record. What does is a tight band, great arrangements, good vocals (supported superbly by Diane Wilson), song selection and good rapport with the audience. It’s all here.

THE BEASTIE BOYS – SOME OLD BULLSH-T (1994): Some interesting early sides, featuring the Beastie Boys’ Pollywog Stew (an eight-song punk-thrash thing from 1982) with the “Cooky Puss” 12-inch from 1984, a surprise regional hit. Having already broken up and reformed several times, the Beasties had by then landed a studio gig recording commercial jingles. That knob fiddling led to a new complexity in their sound, with “Cooky Puss” and then “Bonus Butter” moving into a house-rap synthesis — but, this being the early 1980s, with a heavy disco vibe. Everybody knows what happened next.

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