Despite being a musician myself, I often find myself surprisingly ignorant of bands that have played an important roll in rock/popular music history. Maybe its partly due to my college years being prior to the Internet and widespread downloading/sharing of mp3s and the like. In any case, I would like to combat this ignorance – and you can help!
Name a genre or time/place in musical history (for example: the “grunge”/seattle band movement of the early 90s) then name some bands that fit in that category that it is inexcusable to not have knowledge of (for example: pearl jam, nirvana, soundgarden, etc.).
Any genres will do, even if they are very specific or obscure. Feel free to expand on or debate other posters choices. I can then begin the task of efficiently addressing the no doubt sizable gaps in my musical knowledge…
I’ll start this off with my example from above (please feel free to add to or correct my choices).
Genre/place in history: grunge movement of early 90s/seattle bands
Bands: pearl jam, nirvana, alice in chains, soundgarden
Southern Rock, late 1960’s and 1970’s, mostly southern US: Two essential bands - The Allman Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Alt-Country, late 1990’s, no particular place: Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, The Jayhawks, Son Volt.
Progressive rock of the early 1970s: Genesis, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes.
British Blues Rock, 1961-1969: John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac (yes, there was a time they were cool), Alexis Korner, The Animals, The Yardbirds, Cream, and culminating in Led Zeppelin.
Yacht Rock - (1976 - 1984).
*Artists may be cross-referenced with other genres, eg “AOR” (Adult-oriented rock), Easy Listening.
Industrial (Early 80s - Early 90s): Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails
Gang of Four
Public Image, Ltd.
Gang of Four is especially a good one to know, as it seems a lot of early-to-mid-00s indie/alternative bands took some cues from them (the most obvious band being Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party.)
That and the fact that “Entertainment!” is the single best post-punk album.
late 1970’s New York rock scene:
Richard Hell and the Voidods
Punk (I’ll qualify that as English punk to avoid arguments)
The Sex Pistols
The Undertones (John Peel liked them so they must have been important)
A couple of guys who practically invented Rock and Roll
A bit earlier than them:
Elmore James (blues)
Louis Jordan (R’n’B/swing)
British Art Rock: Soft Machine, Pink Floyd (prior to “Dark Side of the Moon”), Gentle Giant
New Wave: Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Television, Joe Jackson (not the father of Michael), Ian Dury and the Blockheads
Oops, sorry people, The Undertones were Irish, let’s say non-American Punk.
Calling **ultrafilter **- he compiled a bunch of threads where folks built out long lists of good stuff, sorted by genres…
Modern Prog (progressive metal): King Crimson, Tool, The Mars Volta
90s Grunge: Add Mudhoney to your list please.
80s early techno: Joy Division, Depeche Mode, New Order, (more I haven’t thought of yet)
Modern Techno/Electronica: The Crystal Method, Moby, The Prodigy, Orbital, Propellerheads
I’ll be back when I think of more…
See, I’ve already thought of more:
Manchester & Other English bands that have been influential: The Hollies, the Bee Gees, Buzzcocks, The Sex Pistols, The Stone Roses, New Order, The Happy Mondays, Oasis, The Fall, The Smiths (see also, the movie 24 Hour Party People – about the Manchester music scene in the 80s), The Verve, James, Charlatans (known as The Charlatans UK in the US), Doves, Simply Red, Badly Drawn Boy. That list spanned the 80s through today.
In a genre of one: David Bowie has been quite influential in rock history. For the way people dress.
80’s Goth Rock: Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cult
Beyond the obvious British Invasion group the Beatles, I would suggest no rock history is complete without knowledge of the Kinks and the Zombies, particularly, the albums * Village Green Preservation Society* and Arthur by the former, and Odessey and Oracle by the latter.
San Francisco sound, late 60s: Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & the Holding Company
Folk boom, late 50s-early 60s: Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul & Mary; Bob Dylan; Joan Baez; Tom Paxton; Phil Ochs; Pete Seeger (although he’d been around awhile already)