Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental flunky Hop-Sing and I are off to Washington, D.C. for a post bail-out cocktail party at the home of Ben "He's the Man With the Weird Beard" Bernanke. As a result, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days, or until the 700 billion check comes through, whichever comes first.
But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:
Best Post-Elvis Pop/Rock Band or Solo Act That Should Have Had a Mega-Career But For Whatever Reason Didn't!!!
Okay, we're talking one-hit wonders, groups or acts who had a couple of records that may have been critically acclaimed but sold negligibly, or just people that nobody ever really heard of but were fricking fantastic anyway. This is, admittedly, even more subjective than usual. Do the MC5 count? Everybody knows they were great, but they never sold that many records and broke up after three albums. How about Nick Drake? Until that car commercial made him a sort of household word, he'd been basically an obscure dead guy for decades.
Like I said, it's subjective. For me, then, I think the pornography standard applies -- i.e., I know a beautiful loser when I see one.
And that said, my top of my head Top Ten would be:
10. The Monks
These guys only made one studio album, which wasn't even released in their home country until 25 years after the fact. But as the above live clip from their fabulous 1999 reunion show demonstrates, they invented Blank Generation punk rock when Richard Hell was still in junior high school.
9. Brinsley Schwarz
The Band with pop songs, and, as you can see, one hell of a live act. IMHO, of course, they should be considered gods for no other reason than giving the world the original version of "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding".
8. The Records
It is perhaps not an exagerration to say that if it wasn't for these guys and this song the blog you're reading now wouldn't exist.
7. Kevin Salem
My favorite hard-rocking guitar-wielding singer/songwriter of the 90s. Why he remains obscure when, say, a nit like John Mayer walks the streets a free man is, frankly, beyond me.
6. The Wonders
Let's be honest -- if these guys had been an actual band rather than a fictional construct for a movie, they would have made the Hall of Fame years ago. Incidentally, that clip isn't in the film proper -- isn't it fabulous?
5. The Merry-Go-Round/Emitt Rhodes
Another powerpop god who inexplicably slipped through the cracks. Fortunately, one of the best tracks from his 1970 solo album featured prominently in the soundtrack of The Royal Tennenbaums, thus reminding people (besides the Bangles, who covered one of the songs above) of just how good he is.
4. The Remains
These guys ruled New England in 65-66, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and opened for the Beatles at Shea Stadium. So why aren't they in everybody's pantheon? The answer can be found in the fantastic, just released documentary "America's Lost Band", which I'll be reviewing over at Box Office shortly. Bottom line: If it plays in your neighborhood, pounce.
3. The Rising Sons
Featuring the rather awsome talents of Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal. The above cut is actually the weakest thing on their sole album (which wasn't even released in their lifetime) -- if you haven't heard the rest of it, trust me, you need to. Get over to iTunes now and start with "2:10 Train" if I haven't already convinced you.
The greatest guitar band in history, I think. Seriously -- I know a lot of really hot guitarists, and every one I've ever played this song for has listened to Richad Lloyd's opening riff and said "How the fuck is he doing that?"
And the number one "they should have been huge" act, it's obvious and unarguable so don't even bother to suggest somebody else or I swear to god I'll take a hostage, is ---
1. Moby Grape
They all sang (gloriously), the all wrote (brilliantly), their lead guitarist was one of the most innovative American players of the decade, and their debut album is a timeless masterpiece that deftly mixes rock, country, blues, gospel, and psychedelia. So why aren't these guys as famous as, oh, Crosby, Stills and Nash? Uh, God....hellooooo?
Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?
[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania (movies adapted from non-traditional sources) is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you go over there and leave a comment, an angel gets its wings.]