Unsung Heros of the 70s/80s
June 21, 2010 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Who are the unsung heroes of the 70s and 80s? i.e. recommend some good non-mainstream bands from then.

Looking to expand my music collection, but I am too young to know anything about these decades other than what my parents like.

By analogy, in 30 years, nobody is going to remember good bands from the 90s/2000s, like Fastball, Ben Folds Five, Augustana, The Shins. The "oldies" stations are all going to play Green Day, Kanye West, and (God forbid) Lady Gaga.

I already like a lot of music from that period. So, please be no less obscure than, say, Elvis Costello or the Pretenders. Don't even think about mentioning Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc.

For the benefit of us 20-somethings, leave some listening suggestions. I'm up for anything but disco.
posted by fatty magoo to Media & Arts (83 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Normal
Young Marble Giants
Crispy Ambulance
Buzzcocks
The Birthday Party
Killing Joke
Happy Mondays
Stone Roses
Pastels
Ride
posted by kaseijin at 8:25 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mi-Sex
posted by kaseijin at 8:26 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Judys
posted by kaseijin at 8:26 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Suicide
posted by kaseijin at 8:27 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, for the sake of our sanity, it would be great to leave a short description with genre or similar artists, if you could.
posted by fatty magoo at 8:27 AM on June 21, 2010


Television: "Today, they are widely regarded as one of the key founders of new wave music and seminal influences on punk rock. Television was a part of the early New York underground rock scene, contemporary with bands like the Patti Smith Group and the Ramones. In contrast to the Ramones' focus on rock 'n' roll minimalism, Television's music was much more technically proficient, defined by the dueling guitars of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd."
posted by General Malaise at 8:32 AM on June 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


Teenage Head was a great rockabilly/punk/party band in Southern Ontario that never really got proper distibution/promotion.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:32 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sparks - 40 years of I don't know what.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:34 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wire
Gang of Four
Minutemen
...angular, agitated art/pop/funk

and do not fail to check out:
The Mekons
...shambolic, melodic, political/Marxist countrified British rock'n'roll
posted by newmoistness at 8:34 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was a big fan of The Alarm back in the 1980s. Their first three albums, anyway. They sort of followed in U2's footsteps (back when U2 was "alternative" and Bono wasn't trying to save the world) and were often compared to them but they were certainly their own band. They're a little hard for me to listen to now because their lyrics are all about believing in yourself and other bullshit I bought when I was 18 but now roll my eyes whenever I hear it from a band. Still though, decent rock guitars and some kick-ass songs.

Check out The Stand, 68 Guns, Where Were You Hiding, Knife Edge, Spirit of 76.

I think they self destructed before they were able to hit the big time, but they sure could rock out back in the day.

Another semi-obscure band I used to love was Something Happens. They were Irish and were supposed to be "the next U2" (when such a thing was considered A Good Thing) but somewhere it all went to shit before they could make it. They weren't really known in the US much and I only knew of them because of my Irish relatives.

I think the album I had was Stuck Together With God's Glue.

I also liked The Call but I don't remember anything that they did.
posted by bondcliff at 8:37 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mission of Burma. Post-punk band, formed in the late 70s or early 80s-ish.

(They re-formed a few years back, so I guess they are technically 00's music too.)
posted by gaspode at 8:39 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seconding the Judys. Smart-ass three-piece (drums, keyboards, bass) that opened for the B-52s, which tells you where they were classed at the time. I don't really know how to describe them, so enjoy some Guyana Punch, which should tell you whether you'll like them or not.
posted by immlass at 8:39 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Normal -- minimalist synth duo, covered by Grace Jones and Duran Duran
Young Marble Giants -- an organ, guitar, bass... minimal... kinda like the xx
Crispy Ambulance -- sounds like...well... Factory Records.
Buzzcocks -- progenitors of pop punk
The Birthday Party -- Nick Cave's old band
Killing Joke -- is it just me, or does that guitar riff sound familiar?
Happy Mondays -- More from Factory
Stone Roses -- This came out in 1990, I think... but they were late 80's, too.
Mi-Sex -- synthy new wave
The Judys -- Texas power pop from the early 80's...influenced a lot of 90's indie rock bands.
Suicide -- basic drum machine, combo organ, and a shitload of attitude.
posted by kaseijin at 8:41 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


X

And check out this post.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:41 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh, also Generation X, which was Billy Idol's band back before all that Eyes Without a Face crap.
posted by bondcliff at 8:42 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also seconding Mission of Burma and Wire
posted by kaseijin at 8:42 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Two bands that had pretty big college-rock followings at the time and never seem to get mentioned anymore:

The Teardrop Explodes -- seminal new-wave psych, with horns, very late 70s and early 80s.

The Housemartins
-- used to be called "the happy Smiths" -- but actually kind of a fantastic mix of bitter anti-Thatcherism, gospel stylings, harmonica, and miraculous vocal work.
posted by escabeche at 8:43 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


My tastes from that time lean towards scrappy punkish stuff and some stadium rock. I'm not sure these all meet the obscure point but they're all great bands, some still play, some don't.

Big Star - melodic, terrific lyrics
Bad Brains - punky reggae
April Wine - rock and roll, Canadian, still playing
Cramps - I think they call it "shockabilly"
The Damned - punkish
The Stranglers - "pub rock" punkish
The Jam - punk/mod
New York Dolls - protopunk
Pere Ubu - a mix of stuff
Human Sexual Response - punkish, new wave
The Tubes - satire, new wave punk
Ultravox - new wave electronic pop
posted by jessamyn at 8:47 AM on June 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


70s: Rufus & Chaka Khan - Funk. I especially liked what they did with "Swing Down Chariot" and the "Rags to Rufus" album. The only thing people seem to know about her anymore is "I'm Every Woman" or "I Feel for You" which is too bad. there is so much more there.

Late 70s, early/mid 80s (although she is still performing): Siouxsie and the Banshees or The Creatures. Personal favorites? "Ornaments of Gold", "Peepshow" (actually early 90s), and "Tinderbox" (1985/6-ish)

They are out there, and even had some hits, but I still come up on folks who don't know the work.
posted by Tchad at 8:49 AM on June 21, 2010


Some good bands here that I forgot about! The Jam!!! Cramps, Damned... Jessamyn has good suggestions, for sure.

I also always kinda dug this song by the Smithereens, too. Very 80's, but a catchy bass line. Saw them open for Iggy Pop and INXS.
posted by kaseijin at 8:50 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everybody thought the first Interpol album ripped off Joy Division, but no -- it really ripped off The Sound, an early 80s postpunk band who really deserved more attention than they got. Their first two albums, Jeopardy, and From the Lion's Mouth are fantastic.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:51 AM on June 21, 2010


Kate Bush (recommended albums: Hounds of Love, The Dreaming)

Minnie Riperton (album: Come to my Garden)

'Til Tuesday (Aimee Mann's old band, best known for the song "Voices Carry")

Katrina and the Waves (one-hit wonder that did "Walking on Sunshine")

Tom Tom Club (side project of two members of Talking Heads)

Echo and the Bunnymen

Josef K

Art of Noise

XTC

Television (album: Marquee Moon -- very influential on Of Montreal and countless other bands)

A couple that fit your description in the '80s but also did equally important work in the '90s/'00s:

My Bloody Valentine

Sonic Youth (album: Daydream Nation)

And since I'm not exactly sure where you draw the line on obscurity (considering that you mentioned Elvis Costello and the Pretenders as acts that would be on the borderline for this question), I hope it doesn't need to be pointed out that you MUST have the complete catalogue of Talking Heads and all of Prince's albums from 1980 to 1988. Yes, they have a lot of famous songs, but how many people are familiar with, say, the gloriously dissonant "Christopher Tracy's Parade" from Prince's oft-overlooked Parade album? Are you familiar with the more obscure tracks from their best albums? If not, you should be.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:52 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, don't know if he counts as obscure to you, but Brian Eno, for god's sake -- he was a major figure during those years, both for his solo albuims and for producing Devo, Ultravox, Talking Heads, U2 and a slew of others. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, his collaboration with David Byrne, is an absolute don't miss.
posted by newmoistness at 8:55 AM on June 21, 2010


UJ3RK5 were an obscure new wave band... kinda spastic. And MAY be the earliest example of l33tspeak?
posted by kaseijin at 8:58 AM on June 21, 2010


Not sure if T-Rex meets your obscurity filter, either... but check out "Twentieth Century Boy"
posted by kaseijin at 8:59 AM on June 21, 2010


Roxy Music - Brian Eno's first band. Very Brian Enoish.
Love and Rockets - The first two albums especially - Very hard to describe. Bauhaus - Peter Murphy = Love and Rockets
Bauhaus - Goth Rock
Siouxie & The Banshees - More gothiness
posted by Bonzai at 8:59 AM on June 21, 2010


Graham Parker - sort of like a more snarling version of early Elvis Costello. Great soul/reggae covers by working class pub rock band.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:59 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thin Lizzy. Most people only know "Boys are Back in Town" and perhaps "Jailbreak", but the records from Thin Lizzy's golden era (Jailbreak, Johnny the Fox, Bad Reputation, Black Rose) are outstanding all the way through.

I remember on a very old episode of Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter was going around interviewing singers and jokingly suggesting that he wanted to put a Thin Lizzy tribute album together. Some kind of laughed at it, but Melissa Etheridge (and I totally did not see this coming) was dead serious and said something along the lines of "Don't even try to make them into a joke, they're one of my favorite bands ever!" Hell yeah.
posted by holterbarbour at 9:01 AM on June 21, 2010


The Sonics are sightly the wrong era [mostly 60s], but they are awesome and one of the first garage bands.
The Church - slightly psychedelic new wave?

Also since I am reading the M's on this page I would have to say that Minor Threat, The Minutemen and the Meat Puppets are all bands that are worth listening to that you may not have heard a lot of. Again, sound is punkish with variations.
posted by jessamyn at 9:06 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jessamyn, Jaltcoh and kaseijin have named many of mine. I'll add:

The Jesus & Marychain: a bunch of angry Scots playing distorted versions of Beach Boys and Ronnettes songs. In a riot*. Get Psychocandy and maybe Darklands or Barbed Wire Kisses or Automatic (which features Head On, which the Pixies covered later on).

The Clean: New Zealand band, still going. I saw 'em support Pavement a few weeks ago and Malkmus etc raved about them, calling them 'heroes of ours'. Late 70s indie-rock that forms a missing link between jangly-era Velvet Underground and Jonathan Richman, and then nods in the direction of Krautrock on a couple of tracks.

Chris Knox/Toy Love/Tall Dwarves: low-fi New Zealand experimental weirdness. Dude just had a stroke, and his benefit album features Malkmus, Stephen Merritt, Jay Reatard, Mountain Goats, Lambchop and a bunch of others. That's the acclaim he's held in.

Oh and I said Krautrock which sounds kinda racist but the term comes from a track on album by Faust, which you should totally try. And Can as well. And Kraftwerk, no doubt. Hard to explain: Faust are kinda psychedelic, Kraftwerk proto-electro.

Which leads to Spacemen 3 who are a bunch of kids from a dead-end English town who dug Faust and the Stooges and the MC5 and took lots of heroin and wrote songs which basically mixed up the words God, rain, Jesus, heroin, love, she, fire, radiation, water in random order, over 3 fuzzy chords and an organ. (One of the guys ended up in Spiritualized who I like, anyway....)

And the Stooges were going in the 70s (really angry Detroit proto-punk) which led to the Ramones (kinda cartoony New York buzzsaw power punk, like dudes on cheap speed playing the Beach Boys fast, which is basically what they were)...apologies if those last two are too obvious, and I see General Malaise mentioned 'em anyway.

*Literally, at some of their gigs.
** If you don't know who the Velvet Underground and Jonathan Richman are, get their records too.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:09 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was a big fan of The Alarm back in the 1980s.

Hmmm?

If you're looking for a band who genuinely gave U2 a run for their BIG MUSIC money in the 1980s (and have continued to be interesting off and on ever since), I'd go with THE WATERBOYS, rather wholeheartedly.
posted by philip-random at 9:13 AM on June 21, 2010


This Heat
The Dead C.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:22 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I could probably sit around answering this question for days, but here are a couple quick ones, some previously mentioned.

The minutemen - If I could categorize them, I would. It's punk, it's funk, it's art-rock, it's blue collar rock and roll, it's free jazz. In 5 minutes of listening to this band, you could learn about the plight of south american socialists, being the son of a sailor, the finer points of James Joyce's work, and then hear a van halen cover. When people tell me that being a "punk" band is a restrictive genre, I force them to listen to the minutemen. Start either at the beginning, with "paranoid time", or go straight to the masterwork "double nickels on the dime."

Joy division - Dark, uniquely british, danceable. I'd be willing to bet that anyone who has attempted to push the boundaries of rock/pop in the last 25 years has at least some joy division in their collection. It's hard to overstate their importance.

Hawkwind - The oft ignored "space-rock" band from england. Pink Floyd seems to be the only band to ever get credit for experimenting here, which is unfortunate. Pink Floyd has a tendency towards led zeppelin levels of ego, and like in zeppelin it shows here. Hawkwind is something a little bit simpler, and lot wilder. Lemmy, later the frontman of Motorhead, cut his teeth here, though the two bands don't sound alike.

The Pixies - Independent rock band. This record seems to have lost some of the respect it used to get, but it was a huge deal in it's time. Post-punk goes mainstream might as well be the tagline here, but it's just brilliant, decidedly eccentric garage rock.

Black flag - the hardcore punk band, at least in my book. Agression, depression, psychosis. At war with both the world and the self. Start wherever you want, the progression is something like hardcore -> sludgey improv metal -> instrumental jazz -> bizzare wanky rock with an extremely acerbic wit. Their logo, the four bars, is arguably the best known symbol of hardcore punk, their songs are still played at comical number of punk shows, and they were on the soundtrack to a vince vaughn movie about frat boys.
posted by yeoldefortran at 9:25 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Go-Betweens, and I second the living hell out of Chris Knox and The Clean.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:28 AM on June 21, 2010


How obscure is obscure? Do The Velvet Underground and The Stooges count? How about Bad Brains, Minor Threat, The Germs, and Flipper? The Violent Femmes and Camper Van Beethoven? The Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Husker Du, The Meat Puppets, The Circle Jerks and TSOL? Or maybe some seminal metal like Testament, Napalm Death, and Death (Chuck Schuldinger's band, though the incredibly obscure Detroit proto-punk band by the same name was good, too)? Or are you looking for real obscurities like The Flamin' Groovies, from one of whose songs the afore-mentioned Teenage Head took their name? Or shall we go in a different direction and examine the proggy, cerebral art-rock of Slapp Happy, Art Bears, and Henry Cow?How about out-and-out unclassifiable acts like Eugene Chadbourne, or famous but criminally underplayed performers like Patti Smith? And then there are "classic" artists that you may have missed, like John Prine (the greatest living American songwriter, IMO), Kris Kristofferson (who has led possibly one of the most interesting lives of anyone on the planet), insurgent country/cowpunk acts like Green On Red, X, Lone Justice, Rank & File, and the Long Ryders? How about bands that spawned other bands like Flat Duo Jets (whose stripped down punkabilly provided the template for the White Stripes), Pylon, grandfathers of Athens, GA indie rock, the Db's, Let's Active, and Fetchin' Bones? Heck, how about Fishbone? How obscure is obscure?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:28 AM on June 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


As lots of others have mentioned very popular bands, I hope the following aren't too obvious:

Can
Hawkwind
Television
Suicide
X-Ray Spex
Stiff Little Fingers
The Slits
Richard Hell
10,000 Maniacs
Dead Kennedys
The Fall
Hüsker Dü
Lush
My Bloody Valentine
Tall Dwarves
Porcupine Tree
The Orb
Violent Femmes
Sonic Youth
Siouxsie Soux
posted by turkeyphant at 9:28 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Magazine featured ex-Buzzcock Howard Devoto and a pre-Bad Seeds Barry Adamson. They reformed recently, sadly without influential guitarist John McGeoch who died a few years back.

The Auteurs were the great band Britpop pretty much ignored. Founder Luke Haines also recorded a concept album about terrorism and now sings songs about Klaus Kinski.
posted by permafrost at 9:30 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cabaret Voltaire
posted by Thorzdad at 9:30 AM on June 21, 2010


Hawkwind reminded me of Magma and Popul Vuh. Both sort of progrockish [people call PV Krautrock] though the clip I linked to by Popul Vuh is from their soundtrack to Aguirre the Wrath of God which is sublime.

Also seconding Buzzcocks, Spacemen 3, Jesus and Mary Chain, early Waterboys, Young Marble Giants and Echo and the Bunnymen.
posted by jessamyn at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2010


The Mighty Lemon Drops

The Jesus and Mary Chain

Oh heck. Go play with The 120 Minutes Archive. That is the sounds of my teenage years.
posted by bibliogrrl at 9:35 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I, too, could do this for days, but here's one group of missing bands:

Beat Happening - from Olympia, Washington, lo-fi indie pop, very twee, childlike and suggestive, singer Calvin Johnson was one of the founders of K Records, which is a massive deal in relation to the indie/poppy side of DIY. One song: Indian Summer.

The Vaselines - lo-fi indie pop, but much more guitar, some with boy/girl vocals, from Scotland, covered in Nirvana Unplugged. Son of a Gun

Black Tambourine - twee, shoegazey, from Maryland, very early 1990s if you can forgive that.. Throw Aggi Off the Bridge.
posted by carbide at 9:38 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


How obscure is obscure? Do The Velvet Underground and The Stooges count? How about Bad Brains, Minor Threat, The Germs, and Flipper? The Violent Femmes and Camper Van Beethoven? The Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Husker Du, The Meat Puppets, The Circle Jerks and TSOL? Or maybe some seminal metal like Testament, Napalm Death, and Death (Chuck Schuldinger's band, though the incredibly obscure Detroit proto-punk band by the same name was good, too)? Or are you looking for real obscurities like The Flamin' Groovies, from one of whose songs the afore-mentioned Teenage Head took their name? Or shall we go in a different direction and examine the proggy, cerebral art-rock of Slapp Happy, Art Bears, and Henry Cow?How about out-and-out unclassifiable acts like Eugene Chadbourne, or famous but criminally underplayed performers like Patti Smith? And then there are "classic" artists that you may have missed, like John Prine (the greatest living American songwriter, IMO), Kris Kristofferson (who has led possibly one of the most interesting lives of anyone on the planet), insurgent country/cowpunk acts like Green On Red, X, Lone Justice, Rank & File, and the Long Ryders? How about bands that spawned other bands like Flat Duo Jets (whose stripped down punkabilly provided the template for the White Stripes), Pylon, grandfathers of Athens, GA indie rock, the Db's, Let's Active, and Fetchin' Bones? Heck, how about Fishbone? How obscure is obscure?

Well, the OP gave several examples in the post: less famous than Led Zeppelin; no more famous than Elvis Costello or the Pretenders; analogous to more recent acts like Ben Folds Five, Fastball, and the Shins. I think it's safe to recommend just about everyone you mentioned.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:01 AM on June 21, 2010


nthing: Beat Happening, Big Star, Buzzcocks, Gang of Four, Hüsker Dü, Joy Division, Pixies and The Velvet Underground.

Adding: The Cure, New Order, Talking Heads, The Replacements, and The Smiths.
posted by postpostpostscript at 10:04 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Little Feat. Most influential in the early 70s but limited commercial success. I've never heard "Willin'" on classic rock stations. They're still willin' today, but they've gone through a lot of lineup changes, from country-western-rock to jazz fusion-boogie.

There aren't a whole lot of unsung classics from the 70s because that decade was really the last gasp of the monoculture. On a university campus today, everyone listens to something different, something personal, with headphones. My mom and dad wistfully recall their time at UVA in the early 70s and hearing Who's Next drifting out of every open window in Charlottesville. That doesn't happen anymore (certainly not when I went to school 30 years later).
posted by infinitewindow at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2010


Seconding Kate Bush.

Cardiacs (link to dfan's blog)

King Crimson, Gentle Giant - prog.
posted by Bangaioh at 10:13 AM on June 21, 2010


Amazulu was an all-female British ska band whose eponymous 1986 LP has some terrific singles on it. They're obscure enough that AllMusic has no bio for them. The Wikipedia article is your best bet.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:14 AM on June 21, 2010


This question and this question are full of suggestions (although you may have heard of some of the answers)

The Dixie Dregs even have an album just for you!

Crack The Sky is a good band that never got more than regional attention in the US.

I can't find it now, but someone did a pair of post to the blue (about a year or more apart) on progressive rock; both the FPP's and comments are full of obscure and semi-obscure bands from that era.
posted by TedW at 10:18 AM on June 21, 2010


Here it is (found by searching for "Captain Beyond", which is one of the bands mentioned that isn't mentioned too much elsewhere): Part 1; Part 2.
posted by TedW at 10:22 AM on June 21, 2010


Also, Throwing Muses' self-titled LP. Hard to describe. Maybe an artsier proto-Sleater-Kinney.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:24 AM on June 21, 2010


Soft Boys. Skip Spence. Fairport Convention. Gang of Four. Pogues. Butthole Surfers. Modern Lovers. Rockpile. Ian Dury & the Blockheads. Frank Zappa.
posted by mneekadon at 10:27 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bands from "The Paisley Underground" scene from LA in the early 1980's "Paisley Underground bands incorporated psychedelia, rich vocal harmonies and guitar interplay in a folk rock style that owed a particular debt to The Byrds, but more generally referenced the whole range of 1960s West Coast pop and garage rock, from the Seeds to the Beach Boys. "

Green on Red
Dream Syndicate
The Three O'Clock
posted by donovan at 10:30 AM on June 21, 2010


Also: Hunters & Collectors were an Australian band in the "passionate earnest rock" vein - i.e. U2, The Alarm, Big Country, etc.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2010


I can't find it now, but someone did a pair of post to the blue (about a year or more apart) on progressive rock; both the FPP's and comments are full of obscure and semi-obscure bands from that era.

I cannot tell a lie. It was I.

Prog Rock Special - Part 1
Prog Rock Special - Part 2

To which I would add:

Friday Night 1974 and there's nothing on
posted by philip-random at 10:47 AM on June 21, 2010


These answers may tip too far into the "obscure" end of the spectrum, in that the bands in question are obscure enough that actually obtaining recordings of their music can be pretty damn difficult, but I'd like to recommend two bands that were both fronted by the same songwriter, a guy named Scott Miller. The bands were called "Game Theory" and "The Loud Family", and they were both great power-pop outfits. On a completely different wavelength, Tom Waits is great as well. The best songwriter that most people have never heard of.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:05 AM on June 21, 2010


Big Black - noise rock (though they always described themselves as a punk band). strident, abrasive, steely guitars. Deep Six. (Steve Albini later famously producedengineered just about every other band named in this thread.)

Descendents The seminal pop-punk band. Clean Sheets

Galaxie 500 - Pioneers of dream pop, perhaps most famously referenced in the Liz Phair song "Stratford-On-Guy". Flowers
posted by namewithoutwords at 11:21 AM on June 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Maybe these are too disco, but the 70's/80's was the golden age in the formation of hip hop:

Afrika Bambaataa and Zulu Nation
Kraftwerk
DJ Kool Herc
Grandmaster Flash



Double up on BitterOldPunk with the DC punk scene bands.
posted by chrisulonic at 11:24 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Connells, the great lost American college band. Boylan Heights (1987), Fun & Games (1989), One Simple Word (1990), Ring (1993) are great albums.

'74-'75 (from Ring) was a medium hit in Europe, but isn't typical of their sound. "Fun & Games," "Scotty's Lament," "Stone Cold Yesterday," and "Get a Gun" are more representational. Great band.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:59 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Slackjawed" is another excellent Connells song. They're from North Carolina and were big in the Southeastern US around the time of early R.E.M., the dBs, and Let's Active.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:15 PM on June 21, 2010


Most of my favorites are here already so I'll just add a few; you may already know some of these or you may not or, like the Allman Brothers, you may find that there's a lot of stuff that goes way beyond what they play on Classic Hitz Radio. Anyway, here are some of my old favorites.

It Came From The 70s:
Roxy Music
Dire Straits
Renaissance
Fairport Convention
The Pentangle

Soft Machine

Incredible String Band

Ska!
The Specials
UB40
The Selector
The Toasters

80s stuff on heavy rotation in my house back in the day (and a lot of them still are, with the possible exception of the Thompson Twins)
The Weather Prophets
Psychedelic Furs

English Beat
Thompson Twins

Bananarama
PiL
Billy Bragg
The Human League
Bow Wow Wow

Shonen Knife (more 90s, but what the hell.)

Somebody else already mentioned XTC and Thomas Dolby, right? And X and Siouxsee and the Banshees and Bauhaus and Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper and the Butthole Surfers and the Dead Kennedys and GWAR? And the Pogues and the Clash are not obscure, are they? Because if they are, I'll cry.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:17 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Split Enz - art rock/art pop from New Zealand. Their later work is less experimental as Neil Finn took over more songwriting duties, but was still unorthodox in its time.

Chris Knox, and associate projects/bands Tall Dwarfs and Toy Love - lo-fi art rock. Defies description, really; his most popular/conventional tune is Not Given Lightly; Bride of Frankenstien is probably more typical. To the extent anything he does can be considered typical.
posted by rodgerd at 12:17 PM on June 21, 2010


Tim Buckley - Jeff Buckley's dad. Amazing voice, amazing range. Check out Dolphins.

Public Image Limited - John Lydon's band after the Sex Pistols. They were best known for Rise off the album Album, and "This is Not a Love Song", but I would start with the noisy Flowers of Romance.

Ultravox - They were absolutely huge in Europe once Midge Ure became their singer. I actually like their krautrock-Eno influenced first three albums. Check out their first, titled Ultravox! (here's Slip Away) and then contrast with the Ure-era Vienna or Rage in Eden.

and Conny Plank, who started krautrock (and produced some Ultravox, too). His band Mobius Plank Neumeier is worth a listen.

Billy Bragg - Angry folk tunes (back then anyway. Back to Basics comprises his first three albums, before he made it (relatively) big with Greetings to the New Brunette. Try To Have and Have Not.

Eintuerzende Neubauten - Essential industrial from Berlin. The singer and screecher is Blixa Bargeld, formerly of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Try Strategies Against Architecture (Part II if you can find it). If I can recommend a single track, Haus der Luge.

Do I have to say The Clash? Bowie? Lou Reed?
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:25 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eintuerzende Neubauten - Essential industrial from Berlin.

That's Einsturzende Neubauten. Prolog/Feurio! (Live 1990)

Scream at 3:17 just scared my dog.
posted by philip-random at 1:04 PM on June 21, 2010




"That's Einsturzende Neubauten."

From Wikipedia: "The title of this article contains the character ü. Where it is unavailable or not desired, the name may be represented as Einstuerzende Neubauten."

So, you either use the umlaut if you have kung fu skills, or you can use ue.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:44 PM on June 21, 2010


Of course, you'd want to not forget the "s" like I did.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:45 PM on June 21, 2010


Buffalo Tom.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:46 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, possibly, Shudder to Think. Shading into '90s there, but fairly obscure.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:47 PM on June 21, 2010


The Residents

Negativland
posted by jimfl at 3:47 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


We've had The Smiths and 'The Happy Smiths' (The Housemartins), so here's 'Smiths fans second favourite band' - The Wedding Present: Nobody's Twisting Your Arm and Brassneck

And how come no one's mentioned Orange Juice yet? Here's Falling & Laughing and Rip it Up

A couple of C86-y personal favourites - Poised Over The Pause Button, Waiting for the Winter.
posted by liquidindian at 3:49 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look up John Peel's Festive Fifty - any year will give you a great array of songs and artists that wouldn't have got any airplay were it not for one man who dedicated his life to the songs that would only be remembered by those who listened to his show. I got into music made before I was born this way and clutch it dear to my heart. I always forget that other people don't know Colourblind James Experience or Bodines or FSK or Artery, because these are songs I#ve played and played and played to the point where I forget they weren't number one.

I like - and bear in mind that I like songs that aren't about typical song themes and singers that can't sing:

The Go-Betweens and their English twins Prefab Sprout and Felt - lovely jangly alt-pop. Two Wheels Good is the Prefab album you want but the production has dated badly. I keep trying to write something about quite how much Bellavista Terrace and Two Wheels Good changed my life, but words won't let me.

The first two REM albums - if you're younger than i am chances are you only know them as stadium rockers. The first two albums are wonderful, melodic, lyrically opaque, and you deserve to hear them if only to end up wondering what Laocoon is. I have no idea what Pilgrimage is really actually about but sometimes it's made me feel ten feet tall. If you like these albums, try the modern British Sea Power - very similar, but very very English.

Can and the Cocteau Twins - sound very different, but each sing in a language of their own, and it's marvellous. Can are Krautrock with a Japanese singer, the excellently-named Damo Suzuki. Cocteaus are Scottish and jangly, but more akin to Kate Bush than Teenage Fanclub.

The Fall - you need to get Totally Wired, an overview of their first few records, and I'd personally recommend The Wonderful and Frightening World Of... though others say their best album is Dragnet. As I said, go through the Festive Fifties, there's tons of tracks on there. They're from Manchester, started out when Buzzcocks and Durutti Column were recording, carried on through The Smiths and Madchester, and are still going in the age of Elbow. They don't sound like any of those bands, or really much like any other band. They wrote one of my favourite love songs, Bill Is Dead.

The Wedding Present - once known as 'a Smiths fan's second-favourite band. Thrashy indie guitars with a singer who cannot sing talking about girls. If I had a tattoo, I'd get one of their lyrics, 'If the world doesn't understand then the world has got to learn'. George Best is a great one to start with. in my teen years I wanted a boyfriend who wrote songs about me like David Gedge, but never did. If you like them, try Hefner - 90s but guaranteed to be unknown to you if you are a USian. Breaking God's Heart is an amazing album about the confusion of one's early twenties.

In a similar vein, you need the Buzzcocks - punk songs about girls and sexual frustration which in a just world would have been number one forever. Get 'Singles Going Steady'. It's what teen mags would be like if they were written by boys.) Some of them went on to become Magazine who are a bit more bleak but still great.

Wire are just as good as everyone tells you, but take time to get into. I prefer 154, but Pink Flag is the one everyone recommends.

Joy Division have been mentioned, but New Order are great too. If you know Hot Chip, then Bernard Sumner has that same melancholic quality to his voice that their singer does, and that Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys does too.
posted by mippy at 3:58 PM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Wipers! Most of the other bands on my personal catch-up list have been mentioned.
posted by furiousthought at 4:14 PM on June 21, 2010


Seconding Wire, Television and Orange Juice, and if you like that stuff, check out the Modern Lovers and Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

BTW, thanks for posing this question, there are days and days of good music to check out in this thread!
posted by malapropist at 4:39 PM on June 21, 2010


One more I forgot:

Squeeze (probably best known for the brilliant song "Tempted")
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:05 PM on June 21, 2010


Depeche Mode, Yaz, Erasure, Oingo Boingo, Blancemange, Aztec Camera, Roddy Frame, Housemartins, Billy Bragg, Nitzer Ebb, KMFDM, Porno for Pyros,/Jane's Addiction, Lords of Acid, Book of Love, My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult, Peter Gabriel
posted by dmbfan93 at 7:07 PM on June 21, 2010


This Heat. Goblin. Comsat Angels. The Sound. Section 25. Ike Yard. Cabaret Voltaire. Electric Eels. Einsturzende Neubauten. Pylon. Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. The Contortions. ESG. Liquid Liquid. Laurie Spiegel. Pauline Oliveros. Can. Pere Ubu. Christian Death. Sisters of Mercy.
posted by ifjuly at 7:23 PM on June 21, 2010


DNA. Chrome. Crass. Faust. Galaxie 500. Theoretical Girls. Red Transistor. Scientist. Y Pants. Bush Tetras. The Pop Group. Mars. Metal Urbain. Savage Republic. MX-80.

And it's pushing it because they formed in '89, but g'ah, Disco Inferno is criminally underexposed.
posted by ifjuly at 7:32 PM on June 21, 2010


Porno for Pyros

Was formed in 1992.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:47 PM on June 21, 2010


Nthing Sparks. You wouldn't believe how many people have never heard of them. And for a band that has been consistently making incredible music since the late 1960s, that's just shameful!

The great thing about Sparks is, you can love them from beginning to end.. but they've run the gamut of genres, so it's hard not to find at least a few songs that will please most people. Anyone who loves 70s glam; showtunes; Giorgio Moroderesque euro disco; power pop; quirky, poppy 80s music; repetitious, baroque.. Seriously, there's a song for almost any style or era of music. I am 100% certain that I can match every man, woman, child, and cat to at least once Sparks song that they will like. actually to quote the excellently named elsietheeel, '40 years of I don't know what.' That IS probably the most apt description. I just know they're incredible.

(Also of note: If you love male falsettoes, not to mention some of the most clever lyrics since.. Cole Porter.. or Tom Lehrer.. LISTEN TO SPARKS. Your life will never be the same.)
posted by Mael Oui at 9:10 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gary Numan. He basically invented synth pop and is still making albums.
posted by conifer at 9:55 AM on June 22, 2010




Mael Oui: Eponysterical!
posted by elsietheeel at 3:15 PM on June 24, 2010


You may have heard of these already, but I figured I'd throw them out anyway:

Shriekback: synthpop, proto-goth, smarter-than-average lyrics. Best known for Nemesis. Also: Gunning for the Buddha.

Midnight Oil: Long-running Australian rock band, mostly environmentalist and left-leaning lyrics. Notable songs are Beds Are Burning and Blue Sky Mining. Good music but they've had a few cringeworthy political moments.
posted by suetanvil at 9:31 AM on July 22, 2010


Mippy mentioned Pet Shop Boys; worthy of a comment of their own. Two of their more melancholy 80's songs:

It Couldn't Happen Here
King's Cross
posted by Kiwi at 11:14 AM on September 29, 2010


« Older Commuting-When is it worth it?   |   Help me to be a great birth support person! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.