Criminally underrated/ignored bands

I’ve just been listening to The Crossing by Big Country, and it’s made me jump around and sing along.

This made me think that are tons of bands (or just albums) that should have, or should have had, a wider audience. Some of the ones I can think of have been really influential and indeed are really well known, but I don’t think any one of them ever sold a lot. I’ll give some examples:

*Empires and Dance *- Simple Minds before they became the worst band in the world

Marquee Moon - Television

Sister Lovers - Big Star

High Land, Hard Rain - **Aztec Camera **

Treasure - Cocteau Twins

Forever Changes - Love

Sorry for Laughing - Josef K

and there are some bands who were great singles artists

Singles Going Steady - Buzzcocks

Complete Madness - Madness

The Singles Collection - **The Specials **
Anyway, what I’d like to ask is does anyone have any similar tips for bands/albums that are a bit neglected these days. I’ve got a hundred quid to spend on Amazon and I’m in a mood to spend.

The Fixx

Someone has to say it, but everything you listed is widely loved by critics and legitimate music fans, even if your average radio listener has never heard of it. It’s all GREAT stuff, too.

I’m going to go out on a limb and list a few things that are truly criminally ignored - even among critics and people that think Television are so well known that they’re practically mainstream - artists that truly seem to be forgotten by even the people that should be trumpeting their genius.

Judee Sill - early seventies laurel canyon singer/songwriter who did heroin and was into some weeeeeird gospel mysticism. Made two absolutely amazing records before OD’ing.

Jackson C. Frank - Cut from the same “suicide folk” mold as Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, and Bert Jansch, he was an english folk singer who made one incredibly dark record called Blues run the game. So good it’s astonishing that he’s not more well-known than the aforementioned guys.
the Passage** - “Pindrop” - the Passage were trying to be the American Joy Division in 1980, and their impersonation ended up on some completely other mutation that doesn’t really sound like JD much but has that same vibe. “Pindrop” is a great record, all washes of echo and clang over thudding drums and synths. It’s the equal of JD’s “Unknown Pleasures,” and literally NOBODY ever talks about it.
Hackamore Brick** - “one kiss leads to another” - Hackamore Brick came out of NYC in the beginning of 1970 doing something very similar to what the Velvet Underground were doing on “Loaded” - spiritual yet free-wheeling post-sixties rock music with an emphasis on killer ballads and flat vocals. This record was supposedly recorded in the same studio as “Loaded” or with the same producer or something - all I know is that it’s become a straight-up sister record to “Loaded” in my mind. In many ways, it also reminds me of Big Star’s first record, vacillating and oscillating between poppy, unthinking rave-ups with names like “Oh, those sweet bananas” and ridiculously gorgeous ballads like “Peace has come,” which sound like Lou Reed and Chris Bell sitting down together over a bottle of quaaludes.

Budgie - especially their first, self-titled record - are so often overlooked that it’s truly criminal. People tend to think of them as one of many faceless Black Sabbath and Led Zep followers - and in many ways, they were, especially on their sludgy caveman stompers - but they always balanced it out with these unprecedentedly wispy and ethereal moments. “Everything in my heart” could be a Red House Painters song and presages the 4AD sound by almost two decades; coming on the heels of opening shredder “Guts,” it’s doubly effective.

Gong - it’s hard to talk about Gong because, like their quasi-peers Magma and Amon Duul II, they changed so much from one album to the next that we’re left to describe them with general terms that paint the broad picture of what they were about. I think of Gong as the “fun version” of Can - they worked in the same breakbeat-fueled soundspace, re-interpreting funk, dub, and psychedelia through the lens of prog rock, dadaism, and krautrock. They made a million really GREAT records, and in fact are still doing so, but 1973’s Angel’s Egg is my personal favorite. In every way that Can are paranoid, threatening, and Teutonic, Gong are jovial, fun, and hilariously Australian. Unlike Can, Amon Duul II, Ash Ra Tempel, etc., Gong don’t get namechecked as an influence by bands and are very neglected by critics.

Yeah, I know, but that was kind of my point. But…

I’ve just ordered Gong in the '70s. I think I’ll like them, seeing as I love Can and Neu. A recommendation to you is Loop’s *Fade Out *, which is kind of Can crossed with Spacemen 3.

Paramore - fun, punky pop.

The Vincent Black Shadow - they’re sort of like… No Doubt, Blondie, Green Day and Evanescence thrown into a blender.

Blonde Redhead - alt/indie rock. Check out their Misery Is a Butterfly album.

I:Scintilla - industrial rock. I really like Capsella Bursa Pastoris from their first album, The Approach.

Rachael Yamagata - pop rock.

Tegan and Sara indie pop/rock. Their '04 album, So Jealous is definitely worth a look.

Unknown? No. Underrated? Yes.

When are you postulating that this transition took place?


Juju B Solomon

David Karstan Daniels

These are not Tegan and Sara, Television, or Buzzcocks famous. Hell, I’ve played two of those bands on the radio in the last week. These are “I went to the show and the only other people there was the guy I brought with me” underrated. All are cool, good to talk to, etc. Go seem them if you can.

(Also, Blitzen Trapper. They are great to hang out with, but I feel they’ll get pretty popular by their next album.)

At some point between New Gold Dream and *Sparkle in the Rain * Simple Minds turned into fucking rotten bloat-rock. Perhaps they moved from trying to be Roxy Music or Kraftwerk, and instead turned into U2-lite for the dumbo market. “Don’t you forget about me” aye right, ta-ta.

The Beta Band.

I could go on for pages and probably will eventually).

Emitt Rhodes

Kak – Nice little psychedelic rock band of the early 70s. One very good, underpromoted album.

Spirit – Their 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus is one of the great albums. Tremendous musicians who were orphaned by their record company; 12 Dreams came out after they had broken up, so it didn’t matter. Bad selection of singles, too. Got some fame recently as an early song seems to have been lifted directly as “Stairway to Heaven,” but they were much better than that.

McDonald and Giles – nice little album by a couple of King Crimson alumni.

Van Dyck Parks – “Song Cycle” blew me away when I first heard it.

Otis Taylor – Blues musicians are always underappreciated, but Taylor is amazing. Intense, dark music.

The Roches – Folk/jazz sister trio, with the best harmonies ever.

Soft Machine – Terrific jazz/rock fusion pioneers. Their album “Third” is superb.

Raymond Scott – Jazz composer of the 40s. He was connected with Warner Brothers cartoons (though they bought the songs; he didn’t compose them with cartoon in mind), so you’ve heard a lot of his work. “Powerhouse” still gets played all the time.

Harry Warren – one of the greats of the American popular composers of the 30s. Everyone knows his songs: “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “We’re In the Money,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “42nd Street,” “Lullabye of Broadway,” “Dames,” “That’s Amore!” “Ballad of Wyatt Earp.” Yet he is pretty much obscure; when they turned 42nd Street into a Broadway musical in the 70s, his name wasn’t featured at all.

I agree, but I live a little too close to The Beta Band for them to be that obscure. Mind, looking at my list upthread, that applies too.

I will now attempt to sell six copies of The Three Eps by the Beta Band .

If you like The Beta Band, you should check out The Bees.

Ah good one, I have the self-titled album. Was it you who recommended The United States of America in an earlier thread - if so thanks, if not well thanks anyway.

If you like singer/songwriters within the country music genre, try Shelby Lynne esp. What about the love we made.
Roxie Dean wrote I’m a Soldier’s Wife
and my favorite:
Charlie Robison; Barlight, actually anything by him.

SSG Schwartz

The Gathering, during their long Anneke van Giersbergen era, which is sadly over now.

Go get some Jayhawks. And Hem.

As I understand it, Madness were quite successful in England, but in America are only known for “Our House” and maybe one or two others, which does indeed make them criminally ignored. Pretty much everything they’ve done is a joy to listen to. They’re in my personal Top 10 list, and I especially love Keep Moving and One Step Beyond, which show the two sides of the band.

I was underwhelmed by “Song Cycle,” but I’m quite fond of his other stuff, including Jump!, Tokyo Rose, and Orange Crate Art (which is a Van Dyke Parks album with Brian Wilson on lead vocals).

Also on my Top 10 favorite bands list are a couple others that nobody’s ever heard of, to their great loss:

Something Fierce - tremendously fun college pop/rock band that might have gone big if their singer/songwriter hadn’t been in a career-ending car accident. You’ve never heard them unless you lived in Minnesota in the late 80’s/early 90’s, or rented the minor Harry Connick/Sarah Jessica Parker movie “Life Without Dick,” or happened to catch Dr. Demento’s Christmas show where he played “Satan Claus.” But their college newspaper’s record critic called their second album “the most hook-filled piece of vinyl since With the Beatles,” and honestly, I can’t disagree.

Trip Shakespeare - the earlier, and far more interesting, predecessors to Semisonic. Their album Lulu is one of the albsolute great pop* albums of all time (*pop as in power-pop or pop/rock), and their earlier song “Toolmaster” is what I imagine Tenacious D would sound like if they were from Minnesota.

Daniel Amos I have praised before, in threads on Christian Rock. They’ve released a number of brilliant albums that haven’t received anywhere near the attention they deserve, being too quirky and genre-hopping for either the Christian or secular markets.

Unfortunately, all these “ignored” bands are out of print, which makes it hard to unignore them. I’d have to think harder to come up with unjustly ignored bands/albums that are still readily available. Maybe tomorrow…