Is it better to burn out of fade away? Neil Young started the debate but one thing is for sure, both are better than to never really get your shot. No one ever said that Rock and Roll was fair but sometimes it’s just downright cruel. Here are 5 bands that if the universe had aligned for them could have been huge. Damn it, they should have been huge.
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Wire should really be massive. This London band emanated onto the scene in the late-70′s, a force in the punk rock, and post-punk landscape. They definitely have the clout- They’re often referred to as post-punk, art punk; not easily categorized, but certainly considered highly influential as they’ve frequently been cited by musicians, music critics, and music-lovers alike. Still, the band Wire has has hardly been a household name. But they should be. R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Guided By Voices, and many more respected acts pay homage to the London-based band. Comprised of Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Bruce Gilbert, and Robert Gotobed, they have magnified the musical scope of not just punk rock, or post-punk, or art rock, but of experimental rock music, totally. They’re a perfect example of a post-punk ensemble. Wire’s imprint is reflected in the respect of subsequent bands, as well as their subverting of genres, lusciously featuring atmospheric sound as well as absolutely strange and always interesting writing. If for nothing else, they should be loved and adored for ’77′s Pink Flag, and ’78′s Chairs Missing. Amazing albums. Luckily, Wire have continued releasing excellent music, and they still tour! In addition, 2013 will see a new release from the innovators. So you still have time to celebrate Wire’s unique body of work as it’s still happening.
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The Vaselines formed in 1986 in Scotland, originally just consisting of Euegen Kelly, Francis McKee and a drum machine; they eventually got themselves a drummer. The alt rock act only released 2 EP’s – Son of a Gun and Dying for It before breaking up in 1990. The Vaselines got some recognition after Nirvana covered Molly’s Lips, Son of a Gun and most famously Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam on their MTV Unplugged session. They were only together for a few years, but their simple and catchy songwriting contained the essence of successful pop songs. Maybe because nearly every track dealt with sex and/or religion, they couldn’t gain mainstream steam outside of their native Scotland. Or maybe the two leads being a couple doomed the band from the start. They started touring again in 2008 after Sub Pop re-released a compilation of their 2 EP’s Enter the Vaselines. They’re touring again after releasing an album of new material, Sex with an X, and they haven’t lost any skill in writing incredibly catchy pop songs.
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Their story was chronicled in the legendary documentary Dig!, but the 90′s band The Brian Jonestown Massacre should have been gigantic. Instead, their former friends, the Dandy Warhols, met with mainstream success. The brainchild of lead singer/guitarist/songwriter/front man Anton Newcombe, the band is still going today and he is the only original member left. He combined psychedelic rock, the blues, folk, electronica and anything else he was in the mood for that day into a sound that, in his opinion, has been ripped off time and again.
At the end of Dig!, Anton claims responsibility for the career of Jack White and the White Stripes amongst many others. He’s a mad genius who’s self-destructive actions and overall craziness cost him money, fans and friends. To witness the whole story, please watch Dig!, it will blow your mind what was caught on film.
Dig!(the entire documentary on Youtube)
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The single “In the Meantime” became an Alt Radio staple and they fit perfectly with the Oasis Blur sound of the 90′s. So why does everything else the 90′s Glam band Space Hog did get ignored by radio? Guitarist Royston Langdon had Liv Tyler as his celebrity girlfriend at Space Hog’s height but ended up as Joaquin Phoenix’s assistant who pooped in his bed in the documentary “I’m Still Here.” Criminal.
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They’ve kicked around right on the brink of breaking since 2006 . Wikipedia tells us that they formed as a duo with Joey Stevens on guitar/vocals and Itaru De la Vega on drums. Starting in 2010 the duo shifted over to a full band with three new musicians, including a new drummer. Then Wikipedia goes dark. One would think that in this post-Black-Keys world that we live in that Rumspringa would get plenty of love from radio. So where is it?
The Replacements, The Smiths, Morrissey, Nick Lowe, New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers, Modern Lovers, Big Country, The Alarm, Brendan Benson, The Gaslight Anthem, Pete Yorn.
Teenage Fanclub. They beat out "Nevermind" for LP of the year that year, and deserved it. I saw Nirvana open for Loop in DC in the late 80s/early 90s and was impressed with neither. I'm 47 (gaaah....) and the best bands of my "adult" lifetime are clearly Teenage Fanclub and Guided By Voices. I'll also toss in,top of my head, let's say (there could be a million...) the first Modern Lovers LP, Big Star, Velvet Underground, Stooges, MC5, Yo La Tengo... next level would be Pavement, Superchunk, Sebadoh, Bettie Serveert... GREAT 5 topic, Peps! And great Wire and Vaselines picks.
Some late 70's punk-pop bands:
The Sports (Aussie band)
20/20 ("Yellow Pills")
Uncle Tupelo broke up into 2 groups: Wilco and Son Volt. Wilco ended up with all the indie love, but the first Son Volt album Trace (1995) is just about perfect. After 3 albums, the lead singer pulled an Axel and kept the name, but replaced everyone else in the band. Needless to say, the magic was gone. The work is still solid, but something's missing. They are still making new music and are supposed to release a new album this year.
There was a group from Long Island a while back called Rotgut. They may have been bigger if their singer knew anything about music.
Naked Raygun was the voice of my Chicago high school years in the mid-80's. Just looked them up recently and still dug it. We can still use the "Rat Patrol"! Oooh, ooOOH, OOOh, OH, OOooh!
New York Dolls
Sly & The Family Stone (they had hits, but would Prince have existed without Sly?)
Greenhornes- screw you jack white
Machines of Loving Grace
Spacehog was one of the worst bands I've ever seen live. Thank FSM the Toadies were there to save the night.
Formed out of remnants of Minor Threat, Dag Nasty was a great band, even with having 3 different singers. Many cite them at the first "Emo" band, although they are a far cry from today's Emo sound.Their album "Wig Out At Denko's" had some poppy, catchy songs with great hooks.
Another band that had a GREAT sound, but never got any pup was out of CA called The Drunk Injuns. Their LP "Frontside Grind" is one of my all time favorite albums of all time. Very different from their CA contempoaries at the time like Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, Los Olvidados, and more. Very Melodic, aggressive sound.
FUCK!!! I love punk rock when it still had the Punk in it.
For the new generation, The Haunted. Swedish rock/metal with divine musicians and an amazing frontman in Peter Dolving. Broken up recently, Peter Dolving has a great solo album out and links with many cool projects that music lovers can appreciate.
@The Real Big Ed Teenage Fanclub performed on SNL, but the sound was so bad, I couldn't make a legitimate assessment of their talent and never checked them out beyond that. Have to check em out now.
@1donut0ants Dude, I almost listed The Sports. Great band. Don't throw stones is an excellent album all the way through.
I saw Uncle Tupelo open for Teenage Fanclub, and then headline... just amazing. Every now and again you're previledged to see am opening band that really grabs you... Tupelo might be my all-timer, thanks for the reminder.
@ray57 Prozac killed The Smiths
Great call. Saw the Feelies so many times back in the day... gave them in the 80s a couple Wire and Modern Lovers Cassettes. Got to see them again about 4 months back. Amazing... deja vu, all over again! Crazy Rythms is one of my all time top 10. Also, love all the others, especially Wayne Kramer and the Motor City Five.
@BillBorden Never thought of sly that way before very good point
@BillBorden good call on MC5
@Sarcastic Frindgehead yay! another one for harvey danger! Loved Hepcat back in the day but not sure ska will ever find a big audience.
@Jaybird Wedbetter I only knew the name Dag Nasty, had no idea they were members from Minor Threat. I am LOVING this. Can't believe I never checked them out before
@The Real Big Ed Lucky. I didn't hear about them until they were already broken up. The two very different lead singers almost made them sound like 2 bands from the beginning, but maybe that's just because it's the way I heard them first (as Wilco and Son Volt).