Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Shameless Special Pleading Edition)

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. My new Oriental houseboy Hop-Sing and I will be winging our way to Atlanta (or Hotlanta! as we like to call it), where we will be putting on the dog at an oh-so-private soiree at the casa of divine Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. So posting by moi will necessarily sporadic for a few days.

Meantime, here's a fun little project for you all:

Most Underrated Rock Group or Solo Performer!!!!!


You know -- musicians you dearly love/believe to be important, but who don't get commensurate respect from critics, hepsters, or the public at large.

My totally top of my head Top Seven:

1. Procol Harum -- Mere one or two hit wonders? I think not!!! At least five albums full of genuine grandeur, pop smarts and mordant wit, and that mostly seamless merger of Ray Charles and J.S. Bach.

2. Moby Grape -- Not just the best of the San Francisco bands; a credible case be made for them as the very best American group of their day.

3. Jason and the Scorchers -- Gram Parsons meets the Who meets the Ramones. What's not to like?

4. Mink DeVille -- The Bowery's finest. In fact, the only one of the original New York City punk groups that actually sounded like New York City.

5. Marah -- Nick Hornby and me think they're the best band on the planet. So why aren't they household words?

6. Peter Blegvad -- A singer/songwriter/guitarist so good that XTC ripped him off.

7. David Bowie -- Just to annoy the Kenosha Kid.

Let the earnestness begin!!!!!

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

7. David Bowie


Oh brother........

Anonymous said...

nd that mostly seamless merger of Ray Charles and J.S. Bach.

if you say so dude.

steve simels said...

Apparently my dry sense of humor is an acquired taste...
:-)

TMink said...

Buck Owens. Well, at my house he is underappreciated. My wife hears Hee Haw whenever I try to point out the hot guitar, the amazing harmony, the punk attitude. Buck rocks.

Trey

Anonymous said...

Procol Harum -- Mere one or two hit wonders? I think not!!! At least five albums full of genuine grandeur, pop smarts and mordant wit, and that mostly seamless merger of Ray Charles and J.S. Bach.

"Prodigal Stranger" is one of those albums that nobody seems to know about and yet it has some truly great material on it. Elegant and massive at the same time. "We were young, we were brave ... "

Gots me some fambly in Hotlanta, btw.

Mister Pleasant said...

Mr. Simels succinctly covered my top choice for this category, [1] Procol Harum. For me their first four albums are indispensible, as well as large parts of "Grand Hotel" and "Exotic Birds and Fruit". It is a dirty shame that their muse flickered out after that.

My next four choices...
[2] The Pretty Things. Why their late 60s output is not better appreciated is a mystery. Their pyschedelic single "Talkin' About the Good Times" is pure pop bliss. The depressing story line in "S. F. Sorrow" hangs together beautifully, and Phil May's fine songwriting and the group's killer chops makes "Parachute" my favorite LP by any group other than the Beatles.

[3] Cheap Trick. When the tricksters find the right tunes and Zander is in top voice, they are unstoppable. Their long career is littered with shoulda-been radio hits, and 1997s "Cheap Trick" was an amazing return to form.

[4] Steeleye Span. I never much cared for British folk rock, with this one major exception. Their middle period LPs are works of art, and Maddy Prior's vocals are dependably out-and-out gorgeous.

[5] John Cale. His post-Velvets career is all over the map, but for a few years in the mid 70s he was on a roll that produced some haunting classics, with "Paris 1919" at the top of the heap, with its baroque arrangements, abounding literary imagery, and mucho melodic invention.

Keith said...

Here's my top 3:

1) Tonio K.
2) The Blasters
3) Peter Case

I know I get blank stares whenever I mention them.

Feral said...

The Subdudes - Well crafted New Orleans rootsy stuff, and great live.

Matthew Sweet - Yeah, he has a following, but IMHO not what he deserves.

Chris Whitley - He left us too soon.

Delbert McClinton - What a great voice.

Ralph Towner - Acoustic guitar virtuoso extrodinaire.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Three off the top of my head:

1. Easybeats
2. The Move
3. Be Bop Deluxe

Anonymous said...

1. Richard X Heyman
2. Spongetones
3. Gene Clark
4. Rockpile / Dave Edmunds / Nick Lowe
5. Flamin' Groovies
6. dB's

The Kenosha Kid said...

7. David Bowie -- Just to annoy the Kenosha Kid.

Damn you Simels!!

Underrated: I don't think Herman's Hermits ever got proper credit (except from The Ramones) for inventing punk rock with their song "I'm Henry the VIII, I am."

Lene Lovich was a fantastic act who is now sadly forgotten.

Bow Wow Wow.

NYMary said...

It's not even necessary for me to post mine. You know.

Kid Charlemagne said...

nymary:

Duran, Duran?? ;o)

Anonymous said...

Well, as I mentioned in your overrated list-i-ness, my underwear... my underrated:

Townes Van Zandt!

And while I've got your attention, two local bands who deserve national acclaim, take a listen:

Lonesome Brothers

Ray Mason Band

[why doesn't it ever post on my first try??]

Anonymous said...

I second the Flaming Groovies. Andy Partridge said he was trying to get their guitar sound for Senses Working Overtime. Sparks: an incredibly funny and gifted live act, and still kicking, despite that Georgio Moroder period. The Glee Club was an Irish band from the mid-nineties that sounded like a hybrid of Revolver era Beatles and Siouxie and the Banshees. They only released one album.

Anonymous said...

1. Redd Kross (so wanted Third Eye to be huge; still fabulous live)

2. Pere Ubu (particularly the late '80s/early '90s line-ups)

2. The Feelies (fascinating rhythm, Velvets style)

3. Pylon (of its time but it doesn't sound dated to me, and Vanessa Hay was a hoot)

4. Shonen Knife (their early psychedelic heyday)

NYMary said...


Duran, Duran?? ;o)


Guess again, paleface.

;p

NYMary said...

Anon, We are huge Redd Kross fans on Liberal Mountain. Lest anyone should doubt what an amazing wife I am, I let Thers go see them play in NYC in September. Without me, though it killed me to miss it.

NYMary said...

Apparently my dry sense of humor is an acquired taste...
:-)


As they say, a foolish consistence id the hobgoblin of little minds.

NYMary said...

And a couple more, less obvious.

1. Mary Prankser

2. Hotsocky (no idea if they're even still together)

3. Ruth Ruth

steve simels said...

Somebody said the Subdudes...

Couldn't agree more/....

Anonymous said...

In no particular order:

1. The Motors

2. The Easybeats

3. The Beau Brummels(tones)

4. Love

5. Jonathan Richman

6. Sloan

7. And of course, NYM's boys
(more here and here...yes, I am pimping my own links. Just try and stop me.)

Sadly, no videos of Bram Tchaikovsky.

Anonymous said...

The Subdues, currently.

Professor Louie.

Anonymous said...

I wondered if this might be a followup to last week's Most Overrated list.

The Living End - Australian neo-punk good boys turned stylistic power trio. Chris Cheney is one of the best guitarists I've heard in years and the vocals are dead nuts perfect. IMO, Modern ARTillery is one of the first masterpieces of the 21st century.

The Refreshments - Talk about your Power Pop bands! Brilliantly tongue-in-cheek lyrics in half their songs, achingly familiar despair in the others. They had a keen grasp on easy hooks and wonderful feel for changeups and dynamics. Pure genius for the bipolar music lover.

Tonic - Skip the teen movie ballad/anthems (not that they aren't good). There's some really powerful songwriting and tremendous musical talent, esp. in their first two albums. Anger without rage, dismay without hypocrisy, enough power to keep you awake balanced by ballads that remind you that we're all living thru the same things. And fantastic bass lines...

John Hiatt - Come on... John fucking Hiatt, people!

And a line for Mary:

"I thought we were going to listen to some progressive music - like Hawkwind or Marillion!"

Anonymous said...

1. Graham Parker
2. Graham Parker
3. Graham Parker

steve simels said...

fitz:

I love Graham Parker, and not just because he's the only pop star I ever looked like.

NYMary said...


7. And of course, NYM's boys
(more here and here...yes, I am pimping my own links. Just try and stop me.)


Look for a Shoes interview here within a month or so; I've got a commitment from all 3 to answer some questions (I hear I might even get the elusive Klebe).

I'm just blown away that anyone would blogwhore here. We've made it!

Anonymous said...

As an egomaniac of the first order, I could list "Uncle Smokes."

Instead, I'll point to a writer of clever tunes, Roy Zimmerman.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I gotta give a shout for Tom Smith.

HoneyBearKelly said...

Being that I like soulful singers I'll say Allison Moyet.

More talent than Mariah, Whitney and others but alas, didn't look like a diva.

Anonymous said...

Ever since the '60's:

Steve Winwood.

Ray Davies and the Kinks.

The Animals.

Arthur Lee and Love.

Blues Project.

And, of course, the Yardbirds, especially with Jeff Beck ... but you already knew that.

Slightly more recently:

Television.

Okay, that makes seven.

Anonymous said...

Sugar -- Bob Mould's band after Husker Du was loud, crunching rock in service to great songs; they produced a couple of albums (plus a couple of later collections) before Mould drifted off into his solo career, which hasn't been as nearly as much fun as the Sugar stuff

Donovan -- mostly a flower power joke now, Donovan was mixing folk, psychedelia and yes, jazz, at least a couple of years before Traffic popped up with John Barleycorn Must Die

Pere Uub? I was a huge fan in their late 70s heyday, but how were they underrated? They were a critics'-darling band! (Though I do have some wonderful memories of driving some people right out of the room with side 2 of Dub Housing.)

The Residents -- deconstructing pop music with some of the strangest -- and funnest -- records of the 70s and 80s -- Third Reich & Roll, Mark of the Mole, Buster & Glen -- great stuff

But for most underrated, I'd have to say, perversely, the Beatles -- only 'cause it's become almost impossible to actually hear the music over 35 years of accumulated worship, the sound of the music-industry legend-machine in overdrive.

But to clear away all those cobwebs, just listen to George Harrison's guitar solo in the single version of Let It Be (on The Beatles 1, but I prefer the old, flat mix on Past Masters, Volume 2) -- not a note more than needed, but every note played is perfect.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I'd have to say, perversely, the Beatles -- only 'cause it's become almost impossible to actually hear the music over 35 years of accumulated worship, the sound of the music-industry legend-machine in overdrive.

Gee, sounds like massively OVERRATED to me.

The Residents are a great call. So much leaner, meaner and far more innovative than the Flop-Four; 'Meet The Residents' - what a great album sleeve!

Also fighting for John Cale, Television, Love, the great Ray Davies and - on this shit blog at least - David Bowie.

steve simels said...


Also fighting for John Cale, Television, Love, the great Ray Davies and - on this shit blog at least - David Bowie.

7


On this shit blog?

Wow. Nice of you to drop by.

NYMary said...

Gummo,
I agree that Sugar was a great band, although of course the Hoover Damn is not on the Mississippi River.

And I think there's two ways a band can be underrated: commercially and critically. Some bands that got critical respect never really had the commercial success they deserved. The Replacements, for example.

I must have missed the memo when this "shit blog" was listed as mandated reading.

Mr.Murder said...

Scorchers covered the Stones in the video era, some amazing energy...

...much like The Tubes, in that the body of their work is neglected for one straight at you video.

Protein. Power pop to the core. Oklahoma/Arkie whiskey drenched country blues twang meets high energy pile driven dynamics.

Songs About Cowgirls the latter example,

Ever Since I was a Kid kicks dust off boots and cowboys hats for the former style. Protein packs a punch in albulms and style with both. They remain recent relics ovelrooked in an era of tuned down tone deafness that reached its zenith when various bouncers and bootleg tattoo specimens like Limp Biscuit were industry bellweathers...

Doyle Bramhall II and Smokestack go overlooked still. Amazing depth and expanse of expression, he pushes the envelope of Texas blues into psychedelia jazz and brings it back to rocking traditional vocals.

-Mr.M

Mr.Murder said...

The final one to offer was a song that brought a sense back while driving down depleted Main Street.

I'll nap from posting here for a while, Wake Me Up When September Ends.

It's a rather impressive body of work for the group. High energy, in your face anti-authoritarian offerings.

Anonymous said...

Well if you're talking about groups that never got the commercial success they deserved, I'd have to say:

Ramones.
Ramones!
RAMONES!

And you can most of the New York punk/new wave 70s bands to that list (except Blondie, who can go on the overrated list, though the 1st 3 albums were good).

And John Cale seemed poised on the edge of commercial success with Sabotage but it never happened.

Feral said...

Somebody said the Subdudes...

That would have been me...

Anonymous said...

Canned Heat, specifically the half-dozen great, wierd tracks that featured Alan Wilson. "On the Road Again" is the strangest, rootsiest record ever to be a hit. And their album with John Lee Hooker is the only young-whites-with-old-black tribute album where both sides have something to contribute.