This is a spot for artists and records that can be found streaming, but are kind of in the ‘minor artist’ or ‘for the curious’ more than anything. Basically, they were groups with brief careers or one-song wonders that isn’t really worth the trouble for a sustained album review, or are for those who have a career that is limited in appeal in this day and age. Also, this list does have reviewed bands with an album that are just out of step with their career. Check out at your leisure.
The 101’ers – Elgin Avenue Breakdown – Historically important as it was the group Joe Strummer left to form the Clash (after seeing the Sex Pistols at a gig). Strummer’s energy is apparent, but the songs and music are kind of warmed over Dr. Feelgood, really, and no one’s as good as Wilko Johnson on guitar in this band. Clash super-fans may like it.
Aardvark – Aardvark – In the prog era, sometimes bands tried to do too much. Aardvark is a prime example. They’re competent, but tried to throw in several sinks into the album (kitchen, bathroom, shop) and it didn’t cohere.
Gregory Abbott – Shake You Down – If you want eight songs that all sound alike, with all of those 80’s keyboards and drums in the fore, then this is for you.
Ace – Five-a-Side – “How Long” made Paul Carrack’s name, so much that they probably think that it’s a Paul Carrack tune, and not Ace (much like “Tempted” by Squeeze). The rest of it is rather generic smooth rock that wouldn’t hurt a fly, but won’t leave an impession, either.
Affinity – Affinity – A prog / folk fusion of sorts. They covered a lot of songs, used brass or strings (the opening cut has brass arranged by John Paul Jones), and didn’t establish much of an identity. Vocalist Linda Hoyle was a plus, but nothing here makes me want to put the record on again.
Don Agrati – Homegrown – You may know him as Don Grady, or Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons. He also was in the group The Yellow Balloon. In 1972 he released this album which was an eclectic mix of sunshine pop and hippified singer-songwriter stuff. It also sounded like Robbie Douglas left Katie and the triplets to smoke it up. It’s OK, but not something I’m rushing to put in my catalog.
The Gregg Allman Band – I’m No Angel – He’s a legend, thanks to the Allman Brothers. Yet, he can’t get a pass for an album of blandness with 80’s production.
The Angels – My Boyfriend’s Back – The title track was a smash and is timeless. The rest of the material is weaker, almost superfluous. They also covered “He’s So Fine” by the Chiffons and almost copied their arrangement note-for-note, enough to fool people I’m sure. Sigh. White people.
Aorta – Aorta – They were the band behind “Shape of Things to Come” by Max Frost & the Troopers.They also were the band Peter Cetera was in before he joined what became Chicago. All that said, this 1969 album showcases the worst tendencies of psychedelic rock (unfocused, pretentious) and is barely redeemed by a couple tracks near the end. Plus, what the hell kind of name is Aorta? What’s next, a band called Epiglottis? Eustachean Tube?
The Art of Noise – (Who’s Afraid Of) The Art of Noise)? – I dunno. Maybe it’s just me. But one song (“Close (To the Edit)”) is fine but it gets boring over a whole album.
Arzachel – Arzachel – You may wonder why I even mention obsucre bands like this here? Well, someone may stumble upon this in doing research on Gong (Steve Hilliage) or the 1,491 keyboardists named Dave Stewart (this one was in Egg and other UK progressive bands). A cursory listen leads to one great track and five psychedelic gobbledygook excursions.
Autograph – Sign in Please – They have a way with a hook, but honest to goodness they’re just a second-rate Night Ranger. That’s not really a compliment.
Tal Bachman – Tal Bachman – “She’s So High” is such a monster that the rest of the songs got lost in it. They’re really kind of generic late 90’s sounding pop rock. Since this was a late 90’s record, that’s appropriate.
Dan Baird – Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired – The driving force behind the late lamented Georgia Satellites’ solo album had a minor hit in “I Love You Period” and a couple other tracks that really hit the John Hiatt area of rock/folk/country song-story. Some of the tracks sound forced, though.
Marty Balin – Balin – Something happened to him. He lost his songwriting muse and was depending on others to write a lot of MOR gunk. Memorable MOR gunk, like “Hearts”. That may go into an yacht rock playlist.
The Barbarians – Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? – They’ll always be remembered for their performance of the title cut on the T.A.M.I. Show, and for the maudlin spoken-word thing “Moulty”, recited by their hook-handed drummer. They had one other original that was OK in “What the New Breed Say”. The rest of their stuff was a rush job, and “Moulty” was probably the thing that killed them.
Barnes & Barnes – Voobaha – “Fish Heads” and other assorted weirdness. Your acceptance of this all depends on your tolerance to abstract oddities.
The Beastie Boys – Aglio E Olio – A run through of some punk-ish numbers that was more fun to record than to listen to.
Walter Becker – 11 Tracks of Whack – Steely Dan wasn’t always known for its warmth, but the production (by Donald Fagan) and the 90’s drums makes this icier than normal. Becker needed Fagan as a full contributor more than Fagan needed Becker. Together…well…
Before Today – A Celebration Of an Ending – This band evolved into Pierce the Veil. This album is just kinda generic 00’s hardcore / screamo / whiny white-boy emo music that’s almost indistinguishable from any other band of that time, except they do use some guttural vocals (but in the back, for why I dunno).
The Belle Stars – The Belle Stars & Stripes – They had two moments. One, when “Sign of the Times”, a great ear candy song got some big MTV play and hit #3 in the UK. Second, when “Iko Iko” wound up on the Rain Man soundtrack and hit #14 here. The rest of it sounds like flaccid 80’s music, and “Iko Iko” even wasn’t that good.
Belouis Some – Some People – If you want to give someone an idea of what pop music sounded like in the 80’s, just have them spin this record. All of the 80’s production tricks are here, and they do nothing to spiff up the songs.
Beverly Bremers – I’ll Make You Music – “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember” is almost a perfect callback to the girl group singles of the 60’s (especially the Leslie Gore vehicles). Bremers, who was in Hair, sang the material well. The material aside from the hit? Eh.
Bif Naked – I Bificus – “Moment of Weakness” seemed like a nice piece of rock candy, but while her material is eclectic, stylistically, none of it seems to hit like that one video / radio hit.
The Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace – He did “White Lightning” first, and also wrote (but didn’t release) “Running Bear”. The title track everyone knows; most everything else is variations on that theme.
Edwin Birdsong – Edwin Birdsong – Who? Well, you know the song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk. The main keyboard riff – the one that carries the song, is from “Cola Bottle Baby” from this album. The rest of THIS record is just generic keyboard driven late 70’s funk, but “Cola Bottle Baby”, whatever that means, is dang good.
Black Flag – Family Man, The Process of Weeding Out – On the former, Rollins’ nascent spoken word can be skipped. The band instrumentals are interesting if you dig Ginn & Cos. jazz and avant garde influenced material. The latter is similar except for no Rollins.
Bobby Bloom – The Bobby Blue Album – Not only did he have a huge hit in “Montego Bay”, but he co-wrote “Heavy Makes You Happy” with Jeff Barry. This record is better than you think, even if a lot falls into that faux-Carribean mode. His momentum stalled when a former record company released his earlier singles as the ‘follow up’. Subsequent singles on MGM tanked and he never released a true follow-up album.
Blue Swede – Hooked on a Feeling – Everyone knows the title track, in all of it’s “OOGA CHAKA” glory. They do a lot of covers and some originals (shudder) in the same kind of campy way, with the lead vocalist straining to be perfect on pitch and sound American as well. He’s way too forced, he’s Swedish, and the camp ceases to be fun after a half-dozen tracks.
Body Count – Body Count – The infamous “Cop Killer” isn’t officially on the album, but you can find it on You Tube. It wouldn’t add much to this. I admire Ice-T for breaking barriers, but he’s done better rhymes, and the metal / punk seems a bit warmed over. Maybe I was expecting too much since this was so hyped.
Bodyrockers – Bodyrockers – “I Like the Way You Move” and 11 others of disposable nature.
The Boss Martians – The Boss Martians, 13 Evil Tales – Surf music, 60’s style, played in the 90’s. They later moved past surf to garage, which opened up their possibilites.
Boys Don’t Cry – Boys Don’t Cry – “I Wanna Be a Cowboy” was their hit in the 80’s. The rest of the album isn’t as fun or endearing. It’s just mediocre UK dance pop at best, and lazy UK dance pop at worst.
Brad Sucks – I Don’t Know What I’m Doing – Thirteen years ago, releasing an album for free on the internet was kind of revolutionary. I’m glad he got some pub out of it, but the album was just OK. He did everything himself, but his double-tracked vocals are a little off and the monotone melodies get a little bit same-songy.
The Breeders – Title TK, Mountain Battles – The ‘comeback’ album (Title TK) was a bit underbaked. Steve Albini’s production maybe would have worked with better songs, but minimalist skeletons of ideas aren’t so hot. Mountain Battles was a bit more fleshed out but also less exciting.
Danny Joe Brown – Danny Joe Brown and the Danny Joe Brown Band – Danny Joe Brown left Molly Hatchet after Flirtin’ with Disaster and formed his own band, and released this record in 1981 utilizing a three guitar lineup (like Molly Hatchet) and a keyboardist (like Skynyrd). It’s not horrible but doesn’t have that spark the first two Molly Hatchet records had. In an intersting footnote, two members of this band later joined and are still ‘in’ Molly Hatchet.
Shirley Brown – Woman to Woman – A surprise hit in 1974, “Woman to Woman” was a song about a woman confronting his man’s ‘outside woman’ who seems to be a crumb-bum. The rest of the album is good late Stax output. Stax crumbled soon after this became a big hit and her career never recovered.
Sleepy Brown – Mr. Brown – I was entranced by the single “Margarita”, which rocketed up the charts to #108. I don’t know how I heard it, especially since I was rather much shut out of the music world then. The rest of the album? Well, I’m glad I didn’t buy it. This is the only cut on the record produced by the Neptunes – Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo. No wonder.
The Bubble Puppy – A Gathering of Promises – They had an out-of-left-field hit with “Hot Smoke and Sasafrass”, but had nothing else in the can as compelling. A rush-released album flopped, and they changed their name to Demian (because their manager’s wife suggested it) before calling it quits.
Calla – Collisions – Their fourth album. The first three mined an art-damaged slowcore vein. This one is more song oriented, and they had a somewhat radio hit in “In Dawned on Me”. Not much else besides “Swagger” tripped my trigger. They released one more and then called it a grimy, depressed, day.
Cannibal & the Headhunters – Land of 1000 Dances – I suppose if you’re going to have one hit, make it memorable. FYI – the “na na na na” thing was something the singer used to cover up the fact that he forgot the lyrics during one show.
The Capitols – Dance the Cool Jerk – I was surprised that there wasn’t a collection by the Capitols, but in looking at what this album had to offer, I’m not surprised. Almost everything is a cover, or just filler. They never had another hit. So, just grab “Cool Jerk” somewhere.
Captain Hollywood Project – Love Is Not Sex – Eurodance project from an ex-US Captain (thus the name) who had some big hits in Germany with stuff that wouldn’t have sounded out of place two years later in the US. Good for shakin’ your shaker.
Irene Cara – What a Feelin’ – Fame was fleeting for the talented Cara. There, I said it.
Tony Carey – Some Tough City – The erstwhile keyboardist for Rainbow (not an exclusive club, in all reality) went solo, and released this record along with his excursion as Planet P. “A Fine Fine Day” made the charts, thanks to MTV, but most of the rest is kind of generic 80’s rock that’s keyboard heavy.
Clarence Carter – Dr. CC – Go and find his compilation called Snatching It Back. Listen to it, and now you know why I never listen to “Strokin'” ever again.
Chamillionaire – The Sound of Revenge – Ridin’ Dirty, and some other stuff.
Champaign – How ‘Bout Us – Smooth, smooth, smooth. The funky elements are smoothed out too much, and the title track is the only thing memorable. But what a title track!
The Chantays – Pipeline – You know the song – it’s a standard for a surf scene or a montage in movies. Trust me, that’s all you’ll need to hear.
Chase – Chase and Ennea – Upping the ante from Chicago, the Ides of March, If, and Blood Sweat & Tears, they were a group with four trumpets and a rock rhythm section plus a vocalist. “Get It On” is a pep-band favorite, but the lyrics and vocals seem strained, and the novelty of a four trumpet band wears after a while. Plus, they really loved side-long suites which can get tedious or disjointed.
The Checkmates, Ltd. – Love Is All We Have to Give – This soul / R&B group from Fort Wayne (Hooiser State represent!) was one of the best inter-racial bands on the R&B scene in the late 60’s. This record’s first side has some great singles and cover versions done in their grandiose style. Why is this here? The second side is an entire suite of songs from Hair, and you know, that’s kinda tedious, really. It probably killed on their stage show, but it kills the album here.
Billy Childish – Way too many records to mention – In his many incarnations (Pop Rivets, Thee Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, Thee Headcoats, and more) and as svengali of Thee Headcoatees, the formula’s basically the same. Simple rock-and-roll, a love of the sound of the 50’s and 60’s, recorded in what it sounds like a garage, with great enthusiams. It’s Dealer’s Choice, basically, whether you like it or not, and what to get. He doesn’t make it easy, really.
The Chordettes – Mr. Sandman – They do sing pretty, but in reality only the title cut of this collection and the at-times annoying “Lollypop” make the grade. That is, unless you like hearing them do show tunes. They were 40’s-type singers stuck in the 50’s.
The Dave Clark Five – The Dave Clark Five Return! , Everybody Knows, 5 by 5, I Like It Like That, If Somebody Loves You, Satisfied with You, Weekend in London, You Got What It Takes– The product (yeah, I said it) of the DC5 was always very spotty. Which could be expected, as they cranked out 12 US albums from 1964 through 1968, along with some UK product as well, movies, and TV appearances. They have good 60’s beat group albums in their peak period. These are just meh – filled with covers and half-assed songs that probably took about a half-hour to write and record, or ham-handed political and social commentaries that are just off. And they’re ungodly short (5 by 5 is 21 minutes long!)
Clarence Clemons – Hero – “You’re a Friend of Mine” is a great collaboration between Clarence and Jackson Browne (oh, and Darryl Hannah, but yeah…). The rest of the album is pure 1985 musically – electronic drums, keyboards, and a lack of soul. The man could play sax, though.
The Climax Blues Band – Gold Plated – A journeyman blues band (kind of like the one from the song “Sultans of Swing”) hit it big with “Couldn’t Get It Right” after some prodding from their manager, Miles Copeland. There’s no greatest hits collection streaming, and the song “I Love You” is odious, so I listened to the album listed above. It’s a journeyman blues band that lucked into a hit.
The Cloud Room – The Cloud Room – A buzzy track or two can’t sustain an album, or a successful career, so it seems. But kids in 2006 who drank Pepsi will always have “Hey Now Now”
Marc Cohn – Marc Cohn – “Walking in Memphis” of course was the hit, and it had that secret hit sauce. The rest of this album, save “Silver Thunderbird” is relatively hookless, verbose, singer-songwriter piano tunes. Sometimes the charts lie; this time they didn’t.
Josie Cotton – Convertible Music – She placed two tracks in the Valley Girl soundtrack, including the now-dated sounding “Johnny, Are You Queer?” (I’m wincing as I type that.) She got minor buzz but nothing really happened after that, except she likes to wear bouffants.
Count Five – Psychotic Reaction – If only their albums in Lester Bangs’ essay were real. This one? The hit you know, the rushed filler tracks you don’t (some copping the same Yardbirds’ rave-up the hit did), the perfunctory covers to make up the numbers. But their one song…they can all sleep easy that they created a masterpiece.
Crazy Elephant – Crazy Elephant – One of those Kasenetz-Katz bubblegum bands, the only really crucial cut is “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'” and the rest is filler. Don’t even think about their seven minute version of “Respect”.
Crazy Horse – Crazy Moon – Their self-titled LP is worth having. Their two 1972 records should be avoided. This 1978 effort has some good guitars by Neil Young, but any originality in songwriting or sound left when Danny Whitten died.
The Crests – The Crests Sing All Biggies – Well, they sing a lot of ‘biggies’ – by others, but “Sixteen Candles” is their biggie. What’s also notable is that this was an interracial group, which was quite unusual in doo-wop, especially for the 50’s.
Cryan’ Shames – Sugar and Spice – The title track is a very good garage band meets sunshine pop song (a Searchers cover that hit #49), and a few of their originals are decent. But they try to cover songs from almost every style, and it really doesn’t work well.
The Cuff Links – Tracy – The title cut became a hit, maybe because Ron Dante, who ghosted the voice of Archie Andrews in the Archies, also sang this. The album was rush rush rushed and actually ain’t that bad all things considered with some decent bubble gum sunshine pop. The second album didn’t feature Dante (but did feature Rupert Holmes of pina colada fame). I didn’t go there and from the charts and sales no one else did either.
Bobby Day – Rockin’ Robin – For a 50’s album, it’s pretty solid, with three hits and a song that was just used as a commercial. So I thought about reviewing it proper, but decided here would be the best place to say that you need to go find the stream of this album and pick what you know or like.
Dead Boys – Young, Loud, & Snotty; We Have Come for Your Children – Sloppy CBGB group spun from Rocket From the Tombs (the precursor to Pere Ubu, who definitely went in another direction). They had some classics (“Sonic Reducer”, “Ain’t It Fun” (a former RFTT song)), and some groaners due to sexism and sloppiness.
Kiki Dee – I’ve Got the Music in Me – The title cut propelled this record to the Top 30. Most of it is harmless, bland MOR sop. This is what comps are for, separating the good stuff from the dreck!
Deep Blue Something – Home – For the life of me, I thought they were English. Nope. Texan. You can tell if you heard more than “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Nothing is exceptional, nor an earworm like that damn song was. Acoustic guitars, earnest singing, not much soul – a perfect mid 90’s bro band.
Deep Purple – Concerto for Group and Orchestra – A pretty high-brow idea by the most high-brow of the band (Jon Lord), but it didn’t gel very well.
Cathy Dennis – Move to This – A huge record that spawned four Top 10 hits in the US and five UK singles. While fun, it’s also shallow, and most memorable for Dennis’ bright red hair on the cover.
Diesel – Watts in a Tank – “Sausalito Summernights” came from a Dutch group of progressive rock and session players. It was released in Holland in 1979, and kind of forgotten until Kim Fowley got a US distribution deal in 1981 and a station in Flint started playing it. The rest of the tracks is well-made yet empty.
Dion – Dion – This has his definitive version of “Abraham, Martin, and John”. He covers other folk and psychedelic songs in the same acoustic string-laden or sophisticated folk-jazz style. Some work well. Others don’t. Still it’s worth a listen for the curious.
The Donnas – The Donnas, American Teenage Rock & Roll Machine, Get Skintight – These early albums show the Donnas still in their loud fast rules phase. Production values were non-existent, and the songs run into each other (especially early on). They showed promise despite the almost self-imposed limitations, and made great strides in their fourth album.
Double King – Double King and Night Fades – I Shazamed a track from our local college station, and test spun them. I think the song I liked was “Four White Horsemen”, the first cut on their debut. The rest were kinda mid-tempo white boy whiny, which is a dime-a-dozen.
The Dynamic Superiors – Pure Pleasure – Instead of continuing with their old-ish school vibe, Ashford & Simpson took the Superiors into the disco world a bit, and it didn’t work as well.
EBN / OZN – Feeling Cavalier – “AEIOU (Sometimes Y)” was a video sensation, and really nothing else was like it at the time. Nothing else was like it on the record, either, which sounded like it was rush-recorded when the single became a big thing on MTV.
Shirley Ellis – The Name Game and The Clapping Song and More – Better than you’d think, because despite the novelty aspect of “The Name Game” there’s some decent R&B here (“The Real Nitty Gritty” for sure). But not good enough to be all essential. Pick and choose.
The E-Types – Introducing the E-Types – If you’ve collected your share of garage rock and 60’s psychedelic single compilations, “Put the Clock Back on the Wall” no doubt floated around. It’s a perfect piece of the scene as it was transitioning to more of a psychedelic feel. They never got around to releasing a proper album due to management issues and other maladies. Had they had a chance to develop more, they could have been a nice folky-psychedelic band adding to the Frisco scene.
Europe – The Final Countdown – Of all the records in the world to show up in this spot, this is the least surprising.
Eve 6 – Eve 6 and Horrorscope – I definitely know why there were a few radio hits on these albums – it’s safely kinda-alternative-power-poppy but not too outre. They had a Top 30 hit with “Here’s to the Night”, which, if I wasn’t so cynical, sounds like it was especially written for sentimental high school kids on the verge of going to college. I’m not that, and if you are, there are better songs out there for that sentiment.
Fang – Landshark – “The Money Will Roll Right In” is genius punk rock. I find the rest of their stuff not compelling, urgent, energetic, or satisfying. Maybe it was the heroin.
Fapardokly – Fapardokly – This has a cult following, and Merrill Funkhouser has a cult following. Some of these songs were nicked from Funkhouser’s previous band, the Exiles, which featured a couple of future Magic Band members. This is just dull quasi-psychedelia though.
Faze-O – Riding High – The title cut was a big, big smash in 1978 on the R&B charts, and has been used in many samples. The other songs are pretty much second-and-third rate Ohio Players (who they used to open for), and that gets kind of old quickly.
The Fiery Furnaces – Rehearsing My Choir – I’m sticking this here because it’s really a polarizing record, where the Furnaces put spoken word rememberances by their grandmother over their typical music beds. Polarizing is a good word for it.
The Firm – The Firm – Jimmy Page + Paul Rodgers. What could go wrong? Well, lots. “Radioactive” is the only thing that approaches either of their prior band’s greatness. Chris Slade is a decent drummer, but the bassist was trying to fancy up everything. They have a second album too, and there’s a reason you don’t know that one.
Flaming Youth – Ark 2 – A footnote, really. Phil Collins was the drummer and sang lead on a couple of tracks. This band was put together after a Walker Brothers tour, and was the vehicle for a concept album about a dying Earth written by songwriters for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. It’s special.
Flash – Flash, Flash in the Can, Out of Our Hands – Yes, Jr. ? Yes (Not Yes)? Return of the Son of Yes? Former guitarist of Yes Peter Banks forms his own progressive project, even nicking former Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye for their first album. While “Small Beginnings” is pretty damn good, their forays into folk rock aren’t, and all of Banks’ “Hey, look what I can do!” guitar work can’t save the songs.
The Flirts – 10 Cents a Dance – The Flirts were active for a decade as svengali Bobby Orlando used various dancers and models to front the group while he had actual female singers do the vocals over the instrumental beds he wrote. “Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime)” was an MTV hit, and dance clubs liked “Passion”. I’d rather not recommend anything past those if you wish to explore 80’s faceless dance music.
Floaters – Float On – Did you know the album version of their classic song lasts almost 12 minutes? No? Well, now you do. BTW, this group formed from the debris of the Detroit Emeralds, a much better vocal group.
The Flying Lizards – The Flying Lizards – Their cover of “Money” deconstructs UK new wave and avant-garde music into the essentials. “TV” is a decent original song. The rest is boho horseshit.
Foxy – Get Off, Hot Numbers – The title track of Get Off is fun (you remember the talk box and the ooowa intro), and the rest is competent disco that’s good for genre junkies. Their next album declined in quality, their sales declined, and soon the record company declined their services.
John Fred & His Playboy Band – Agnes English. “Judy in Disguise with Glasses”. Fred had two passions – music and basketball. He was good enough at basketball to play at LSU and SE Louisiana, and good enough to get “Judy in Disguise with Glasses” firmly in everyone’s psyche. Alas, he was undone by being termed a ‘novelty’ despite a few other decent originals and then had label and royalty issues, thus making this hard to find until it was just re-released.
Friend & Lover – Reach Out of the Darkness – The title cut was a big hit in 1968, thanks to a vocal hook, a great bass line, and a timely message. The rest of the album doesn’t measure up, and that was it except for a couple of random singles. What’s also memorable is that this thing was impossible to find for years, thanks to licensing and idiocy.
Frozen Ghost – Frozen Ghost – Canadians who were in Sherrif decided to go their own way. Well, one guy went his way and the other played the bass. (Seriously, Arnold Lanni does everything BUT bass that’s not session dudes playing sax and ‘additional guitar’, and Wolf Hassel plays that. Easy gig). “Should I See”, a perfect anti-censorship song, was the highlight. Everything else was a lowlight, both on this record and going forward.
Fruminous Bandersnatch – The Studio Outtakes – Despite the presence of Ross Valory and George Tickner (future Journey), as well as future Steve Miller Band mates David Denny and Bobby Winkleman, this band never got a record deal that amounted to anything and released one three-song EP in their lifetime. Frankly, they’re not that interesting as a jam band, and their conventional songs lack hooks or finesse. It’s a reminder that not all San Francisco bands in the circuit made any impact outside of the local hippies.
Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers – Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers. You probably heard “Sock It To ‘Em JB” at some point. He had a long-ish career, mostly dealing in second-rate soul and R&B in the at the time current styles. That one hit stands out.
David Gates – Goodbye Girl – I love Bread. David Gates solo? Not so much. There’s nothing to balance the goop. You can probably find anything remotely good on some Bread compilations, such as the title track here.
The Gestures – The Gestures – You, sitting there, go find “Run Run Run”, a tremendous original single from this young Mankato, Minnesota band. Unfortunately, there was no infrastructure to help this band along, and they got lost in the shuffle. But “Run Run Run” is one of the best slices of 60’s beat group from a US band. “Don’t Mess Around” isn’t bad, either.
Giles, Giles & Fripp – The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp – Well, this is not what I expected. It has more in common with early early Pink Floyd crossed with Fairport Convention than King Crimson. Just odd, and a curio now.
Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs – Sugar Shack and Bottle of Wine – Another pair of records where the title track is the one to have, and the others are just there. “Sugar Shack” has a great bass line and a Hammond Solovox provides they keyboard sound. “Bottle of Wine” was a great folkish tune given a rock treatment. They got two one-hit wonders!
The Godz (’70s OH) – The Godz and Nothing Is Sacred – They’d probably sound great in a bar, as a hard rock cover band, but their original material’s not quite there. On the second record they ripped off Slade’s spelling trick. They did have the taste to cover “Candy’s Going Bad”.
Gouge Away – ,Dies, Burnt Sugar – I put them here instead of Ugggh! since I get it, and I like their power and ooomph. But vocals are important, and these are just too shrill and screamy. I may get it later, but not right now.
The Great! Society – Conspicuous Only in Its Absence, Born to Be Burned – So what do you want? Live recordings from a band only famous because the singer was 100X better than the band and left to the Jefferson Airplane, or studio recordings from the same band? Grace jumped ship, thankfully, as only “Grimly Forming” and “Somebody to Love” are worthwhile, and then only for Grace. The clunkiness of the band on “Somebody to Love” is revelatory, and hilarious!
R.B. Greaves – R.B. Greaves – “Take a Letter, Maria”, a story of a man who finds out his wife is cheating on him and ultimately decides the best course of action schtuping his secretary, was a big soul / pop hit in 1969. The rest of the album, save for a nice cover of “Always Something There to Remind Me” is second rate, and then he changed record companies twice and vanished from the scene.
The Greenskeepers – Pleeth – Known (kinda) for their song and video “Lotion”, which alludes to The Silence of the Lambs, the rest of that album is all over the place electronic new-wave that didn’t hit any targets.
Greenslade – Greenslade and Bedside Manners Are Extra – Thanks to streaming radio, I’ve been introduced and beguiled by semi-obscure bands from the past. This is a prog outfit that sprang up in 1972. It’s like ELP, in a sense, but there’s even less of a sense of balance between song and showing off, and the material isn’t that great. Plus, the singer seems out of balance. Dave Greenslade can play keyboards, but maybe he shouldn’t have led a band.
Kelly Groucutt – Kelly – Mr. Groucutt was the bassist for ELO from 1974 through 1983. and played on almost all of their classic albums and songs. He had a few turns as lead vocalist (notably on the “Diary of Horace Wimp”) and his voice blended in well with Jeff Lynne’s. As a solo artist, though, he’s stretched to the limit and most of this sounds like he’s trying to be poor man’s Jeff Lynne.
GTR – GTR – Two prog-rock guitar heroes form a group! That trick never works. Steve Hackett (Genesis) and Steve Howe (Yes, Asia) wanted to form a guitar driven band but they also wanted to use guitar synth technology, which basically meant they sounded like Asia or Mike + the Mechanics anyway with lousy 80’s drum sounds to boot. Hackett famously said, “(This was} interesting for about five minutes,” and he was pretty much spot on.
Gym Class Heroes – The Papercut Chronicles and The Papercut Chronicles II. A single doesn’t make an album. Most of their best cuts have guests singing the hooks, and the hits are ALL you need.
Albert Hammond – It Never Rains in Southern California, The Free Electric Band, Albert Hammond – Albert Hammond, a native of Gibraltir, had a run in the mid-70’s of shlocky singer-songwriter albums, and wrote other schlocky songs for others (like “The Air That I Breathe”). There’s not a comp streaming, so you have to choose wisely depedning on your schlock content. His son is THAT Albert Hammond, Jr. BTW.
Noel Harrison – Life Is a Dream – An English actor, very prim and proper in his delivery, he made his bones on stage and nightclub in the UK (being the son of Rex Harrison helped a bit, of course) and had a minor hit with a single from his US TV show The Girl from UNCLE, and got a big splash when “The Windmills of Your Mind”, the theme to the Thomas Crown Affair, was nominated for an Oscar. After that, it was back to the boards.
Wilbert Harrison – An Introduction to Wilbert Harrison and Let’s Work Together. “Kansas City” is sublime, as is the original “Let’s Stick Together”, which morphed into “Let’s Work Together” in 1969 and then covered by Canned Heat. The rest is OK. He was screwed out of his moment in the late 50’s by a lawsuit, sadly.
Bobby Hebb – Sunny – A true one-hit wonder, but a one-hit wonder that also wrote the song. The rest of this album has some decent tracks, and if you’re a devotee of 60’s soul you could do worse.
Highly Suspect – The Boy Who Died Wolf – People are still Veddering after all these years.
Doug Hoekstra – Blooming Roses – The title cut has some spark and fire, but most of the other cuts gets lost in the lachrymose. I think that’s his career in a nutshell.
Hollywood Brats – Hollywood Brats – Probably the closest thing to the Darkness in the 70’s, where they were outlandish and pretty much self-parodying. Their records weren’t released until Cherry Red came along, five years after they were recorded. It’s stoopid, and somewhat fun, but there were better bands that were full of stoopid fun.
Rupert Holmes – Partners in Crime – The three songs you remember (well, I remember), are here. I make no judgement if you like them sincerely or for kitsch.
The Holy Modal Rounders – Indian War Whoop, The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders – You really had to be there.
Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Rear View, Fairweather Johnson – Bar band becomes unexplicably huge. It was the probably the anti-grunge factor that also swept in the Dave Matthews Band, though the bands aren’t really similar – they’re easy to consume. The music is both timeless and dated. Any bar band could do this in almost any era, but it’s so identified with the mid-90’s that it’s a symbol of the era. These two records are interchangable, except you don’t know the songs on the second one.
Mary Hopkin – Post Card – Thanks (I assume) to Apple being Apple (records that is), her albums are the only thing streaming, and not the collections that have the hits (her big hits except for “Those Were the Days” weren’t on her albums). “Goodbye” is a bonus cut here, but there’s nothing really of import or distinction. There’s not enough interest for me in her folky wanderings without the appealing hits (music-hally as they are – thanks to Paul McCartney).
The Hues Corporation – Freedom for the Stallion and Rockin’ Soul– Both contain THE hit by them (“Rock the Boat”, of course). The choice is what surrounds it. Wait, it’s not really a choice – it’s all just competent soul / R&B / disco that’s not special.
The Human Beinz – Nobody But Me – As you’d expect, the hit is the thing, and the rest ain’t anything. But their version of “Turn on Your Love Light” is at least decent. They had a second album that was weird-ish and not horrible, and then they had to take a tour of Japan after they broke up thanks to contracts and actually got a ‘live’ album out of it.
Human Sexual Response – Fig. 15 – Orignally Fig. 14, then released with an extra track when put on CD. They had some minor radio play with “Jackie Onassis” and “What Does Sex Mean to Me?”, and they make a decent neo-new-wave funk sound, but they’re puerile as all get out, and they’re forgotten now, deservedly.
It’s All Meat – It’s All Meat – Canadian garage rockers had a bad name and didn’t really stand out for the crowd of other garage / psychedelic rockers. The name came from a dog food commerical.
Jan & Dean – Dead Man’s Curve / Little Girl in School; Ride the Wild Surf; Little Old Lady from Pasadena – They cranked out three albums in about a year, and these two show the strain by filling a lot of it with quickly knocked out filler. There are gems in there (“Bucket T”) but otherwise not even the Wrecking Crew could save most of these cuts. (“Hey Little Freshman”? I don’t think they were talking about college girls…)
Jay & the Techniques – Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie – Horn-laden soul act from 1967 had the title track as their big hit, and a few other decent tracks on the debut record. But Jay (who was the only Technique on the album) didn’t really like the tracks he was given and it sometimes shows.
JJ Jackson – But It’s Alright – This record does have the original, which is one of the best non-Motown / Stax blasts of soul in the 60’s. Yet, I think the rest are re-makes, as the voice is gruffer than on the single, and the running times aren’t the same.
Joe Jeffrey – My Pledge of Love – One of those great soul songs that fell through the cracks. He had one record (sometimes credited to the Joe Jeffrey Group) and fell off the map. I don’t know if what’s streaming is legit or a re-recording.
Jennifer Gentle – Valvende – I think they’re annoying, really, with their high-pitched nasal voices and almost too-fast production with sounds derived from stuff like deflating balloons. Some like it, I guess. I never would have guessed they were Italian, either.
JJ Fad – Supersonic – The hit single was genius, but some of the genius was the LA crew behind the scenes. The other cuts weren’t as genius, and they had one moment in the sun when all was said and done.
Billy Joel – Cold Spring Harbor – The two best songs are found on “Songs in the Attic”, and the novelty of hearing Billy Joel’s original songs that were mastered incorrectly is gone now that they went back and re-mastered and re-mixed it.
John’s Children – Orgasm – They had a minor hit “Smashed, Blocked”, which is pretty standard psychedelic fare, and the rest on this album is sub-standard. Their only two notable songs were released when Marc Bolan was in the band. Most of the time they were done in by their own antics.
Eddie John – More Spell on You – Thanks to Daft Punk, this ultra-obsucre French disco record has some cache now, but really it’s just plain ol’ generic disco.
Kaleidoscope – Pulsating Dreams – There were two bands named Kaleidoscope active during the late 60’s. This is the US version, featuring David Lindley, that started out in the folk and bluegrass movements. They utilized a lot of different motifs and styles from around the world, which was innovative. I didn’t find their stuff compelling for the most part.
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Alone in IZ World – RIP.
Kangaroo – Kangaroo – The lead singer from Orleans, the original drummer for Mountain, the bassist who formed Holy Moses!, and the gifted folk singer who became a cult artist while she was a recluse were in Kangaroo (before they did the other stuff). The folk singer (Barbara Keith) wrote and sang lead on the two tracks that are worth a damn. Perhaps they should have let Keith have 10 tracks instead of two.
Johnny Kemp – Secrets of Flying – “Just Got Paid” brings you back to the 80’s dance floor, and “Dancin’ with Myself” (an original) is decent enough to keep you there. But the slow songs ain’t so hot, and everything has those 80’s chiming keyboards everywhere.
Chris Kenner – Land of 1,000 Dances – The title track, “I Like It Like That”, and “Something You Got” sold a lot of records when covered by others. “I Like It Like That” hit #2 for Kenner, but nothing else he performed really struck a big chord.
The Anita Kerr Singers – Sounds – Famous for being the backing vocalists for countless “Nashville Sound” records, this is a record chock full of sunshine pop for now people. Well, 1968 now people, daddy-o. “Happiness” is the bomb diggity.
Gershon Kingsley – Music to Moog By – “Hey, I’ve got this new toy called a synthesizer…” These records were all the rage in the 60’s and early 70’s, but now sound, well, quaint and unnecessary except for the kitsch factor.
Klaatu – 3:47 EST – The first side has some decent proggy stuff, with “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” and the fantastic “Sub Rosa Subway”. But it also has “Anus from Uranus”, which is about as appealing as the title. The second side is a circle of hot garbage, including a song where they try to sound like Muppets or something. PS – How could anyone think they were the Beatles? A: Stoned, bored people in 1976.
The Knight Riders – The Knight Riders – While they had local popularity in Northern California around 1966 or so, they never released a track in their lifetime, and some of the songs sound like demos instead of actual recordings. “I”, though, is a garage band stomper.
The Knitters – The Modern Sounds of the Knitters, Poor Little Critter on the Road – They play a purty folkie C&W, but it all smacks of novelty to me…especially since they re-made some a few X songs.
Koobas – Koobas – One claim to fame is that they did a good version of “The First Cut Is the Deepest”. Their singles were just OK and their album fell way short of that mark.
Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment – He’s got a flamboyant voice and a flamboyant personality, but he’s probably best served as the stand-in for Freddie Mercury in the current Queen tours. While catchy, his original stuff has no heft behind the hooks.
Nicolette Larson – Nicolette – Decent voice, poor material except for “Lotta Love” (and that’s one of Neil’s most hackneyed compositions, really, I never really liked his version either) and dated production.
Valerie Lemercier – Chante – She’s a French actress. The album is in French. It’s bubbly, 60’s-esque pop with strings and all the accoutrements. It’s not my thing, but it’s pretty good for those who like a bubbly good poppy time in French.
Len – You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush – Sometimes one-hit wonders self-select their status. The hook for “Steal My Sunshine” will be in my head forever, and yours too.
LeRoux – Last Safe Place – “Nobody Said It Was Easy (Looking for the Lights)” hit the Top 20, and it’s definitely a contender to be on the Yacht Rock boat. There are some kinda nice soft-ish rock (and some mainstream rock) songs scattered through their oeuvre, but there’s no good compilation, and then they tried to rock out in 1982 and lost it totally, with a horrible ‘metal’-ish sound.
Lew Lewis Reformer – Save the Wail – Lewis was a harmonica player that participated in several 70’s neo-punk revival bands, most notably Eddie & the Hot Rods. He blew a frenetic harmonica on his own combo’s stuff, but everything was manic and rushed and kinda meh in the long run.
Lil Jon & The East Side Boys – Kings of Crunk – A couple of fun tracks, then mostly annoying boasting and nonsense and what not. Story of his career, really. It’s a shame there’s not a good comp streaming.
The Litter – Distortions – Listen to me: “Action Woman” is probably the best hard-rock proto-metal garage song of the 60’s, by ANY group of any status. The guitar snarls, the drums beat you into submission, the bass is menacing and the vocalist don’t care. There’s feedback, too – maybe inadvertent, but who cares. The rest of the album is mostly covers, done after a change of guitarist, and not as exciting. They released two other records, more psychedelic and even less enthralling.
The Little Girls – Thank Heaven for Valley Pop – A couple of neat KROQ hits (the best being “How to Pick Up Girls”) gave them some hipster cache and spots on New Wave compilations.
Dave Loggins – Apprentice (In a Musical Workshop) – As much as everyone derides “Please Come to Boston”, the rest of the album is fairly competent MOR singer-songwriter 70’s material. Doesn’t mean I’d want it in my catalog, but it’s not horrible.
The Lollipop Shoppe – Just Colour – “You Must Be a Witch” is better served among other great garage / psych singles. This band was stretched to write a b-side, much less an album.
Magma – Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh – Another band I don’t feel right putting in “Ugggh” but don’t think I want their catalog in my catalog. This is probably their best reviewed work. There are trilogies about the Earth going to shit, with influences by Coltrane and Wagner, utilizing a choir, and singing in an entirely made up language. Oh, and the leader and creator of the band and the language could be a fascist.
Man – Revelation, 2 Oz. of Plastic with a Hole in the Middle – The first two records from the Welsh group were a lot of acid-damaged quasi-prog, complete with spoken word nonsense. Later they somewhat moved away from the nonsense psychedelia and became a pretty decent proggy semi-bluesy rock band.
Maow – The Unforgiving Sounds of Maow – Best known for Neko Case’s band before she struck out on her own as a alt-country chanteuse, Maow was a raucous punk band that was rather forgettable in their own right.
The Marcy Playground – The Marcy Playground – About 1/3 of the album is salvageable 90’s alt-rock, and “Sex and Candy” is barely one of them. All the disco lemonade in the world won’t make me like the rest.
Arif Mardin – Glass Onion – As a producer at Atlantic, he’s pretty legendary. Of course, he got studio time to do this (and others), which I only know because the title track was on a comp of weird Beatles covers.
The Marketts – Out of Limits! – It would be nice to have a clean, un-re-recorded version of their instrumental hits, but that’s too much to ask, isn’t it?
The Marvelows – The Mighty Marvelows – A mid-60’s doo-wop group that struck it with the fantastic “I Do” (later covered by the J. Geils Band). Their sound was already out-dated a bit when they hit, and wound up releasing this album after one more minor hit, three years after their first success.
Barbara Mason – Yes, I’m Ready – Gotta be careful here. The 1965 hit version of the title track is just 3:04. She did some disco and other type of tracks in the 70’s and that elongated the song by a minute. Don’t get that. Her pre-Buddah tracks need a compilation.
The Matadors – The Matadors – Once in a while, “Get Down from the Tree” will appear on collections. They were a Czech band that mostly recorded covers but had a few originals and were basically decent emulators of UK garage and beat.
Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. – I Hope We Get to Love on Time – After the 5th Dimension, they had one of the classic 70’s singles with “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)”. “Your Love” is pretty decent, and then…it kinda gets on bland autopilot. It got them a summer replacement show, though!
Travie McCoy – Lazarus – “Dr. Feel Good” is what I like, and that’s no doubt thanks to Cee-Lo’s hook. It’s just like the Gym Class Heroes – without someone collaborating and providing the hook – it’s just meh.
McFadden & Whitehead – McFadden & Whitehead – They were great songwriters and producers for such acts as the O’Jays in the 70’s, and had a big hit with “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”. The album is OK – decent generic disco funk – but nothing to get all excited about.
The Meat Puppets – The Meat Puppets – If you like their later stuff, this is not that. Hardcore to the nth, and sloppily recorded at that.
Meco – Star Wars & Other Galactic Funk – The original album was one side of the Star Wars music disco-fied, and the other, well, “Galactic Funk”. What you really want is the “Star Wars / Cantina Band” edit that was a big hit, and even then probably the 7″ version is the best since the 12″ version goes on and on and on.
Randy Meisner – One More Song – Underrated member of the Eagles, but he’s strained to fill an entire album on his own. “Hearts on Fire” was the hit, and it was a good one.
The Members – Uprhythm Downbeat – This is the one with “Working Girl”, which isn’t on their comp because of record company changes. There’s nothing else her to even warrant a sentence.
Men Without Hats – Folk of the 80s (Part III) – It all sounds the same! It’s the same song! In more ignomy, the album after this, Pop Goes the World, isn’t streaming and I don’t care enough to call it missing in action.
Thee Midniters – In Thee Midnight Hour!!!!! – It’s not a Billy Childish group, but it’s probably where he got his ‘Thee’ schtick. They were an East LA band that was the first Latino band to hit the charts with a cover of the oft-covered “Land of a Thousand Dances”. Their “Jump, Jive and Harmonize” is wild and untamed, but over an album it all runs together.
Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces – Searching for My Love – You may have heard the title track on oldies or soul collections. The rest of the album is OK, nothing great, but the single has got everything you could ask for in 60’s soul, and cut in Muscle Shoals to boot.
Eddie Murphy – How Could It Be – I think 99% of the people who bought this album only played it through once, except for “Party All the Time”. Murphy has a weak voice, and the material is 11th rate, maybe 12th. But actors and comedians have always wanted to make albums since the dawn of the gramophone, so it’s not like there’s no precedent here.
My Bloody Valentine – Ecstasy – Early MBV is more jangly C-86ish type than cascades of guitar sounds. This is kinda sorta a transition as there’s some distortion here, but it’s really kinda meh.
Gary Myrick – Gary Myrick & The Figures, Language – The new-wave roadside is cluttered with dated sounded one-song wonders. “Guitar, Talk, Love & Drums” (which I think is missing an Oxford comma) was his song, though he got a couple of others on the Valley Girl soundtrack (the best being “She Talks in Stereo” from his first record). There’s nothing vital or distinctive about his stuff. He’s an OK guitarist, an OK singer and an OK songwriter.
The Mystery Trend – So Glad I Found You – Those who collect garage-band and 60’s singles compilations have no doubt heard “Johnny Was a Good Boy”, a brilliant 1967 single that went nowhere, unfortunately. They never got another chance on record. They were kind of anachronistic for San Francisco, more Sunshine Pop than psychedelic blues, and nothing else really caught my ear on this collection of demos and unreleased recordings.
Bill Nelson – The Love That Whirls – It probably is my ears, since the song “Flaming Desire” was a dance-club new-wave kinda hit here in the US in 1982 but I just can’t get into this. Nelson has rep as an excellent prog guitarist (a second class Robert Fripp maybe).
Nerf Herder – Nerf Herder – Somewhat funny pop-punk band has some dated references, which would become more and more dated as time went on. They are either a pre-cursor or a close contemporary to Bowling For Soup,
New Edition – Candy Girl – This material’s not on their MCA collections, and only a couple of tracks jumped at me. The title track, though, is heaven on a platter.
Jack Nitzche – The Lonely Surfer – The title cut is a neat use of the studio to create a mood. But he’s a behind the scenes guy and his orchestral work is a taste that I don’t have. Also, don’t read his Wikipedia page unless you want to know what drugs and depression can do.
Ocean – Put Your Hand in the Hand – For all the records that are NOT streaming, this one is still in print, somehow. You know the title cut from the folk mass at church and not this version, I bet, even though it hit #2. You don’t know anything else of this band of Canadian hippies.
October Country – October Country – Sunshine pop / folkie band was more a pallette for producer and writer Michael Lloyd to cut his teeth in the biz before moving along to teen idles and the like. “My Girlfriend Is a Witch” is the clear winner.
Oliver – Oliver – “Good Morning Starshine” is a heck of an ear-worm. “Jean” ain’t. There’s a lot of melodrama on the rest of the cuts.
OMC – How Bizarre – I wasn’t expecting much, and I didn’t get it. The title track is catchy and fun. I guess everyone has one in them if they can harness it.
Parachute – Losing Sleep – Sounds good on the radio, but back-to-back you realize how generic they are. Save ’em for the radio when it’ll be a pleasant surprise when it turns up.
The Peppermint Trolley Company – The Peppermint Trolley Company – Some intriguing sunshine pop tracks, and some way too long sunshine protest songs.
The Persuaders – Thin Line Between Love and Hate – My goodness me, how can a group hit with this song and never really make an impact again?
Pet Symmetry – Pets Hounds – If there’s any band that defines generic 2010’s emo / indie rock, it’s this one. Though you could drop this in 2005 without a problem. It didn’t move me, nor make me look up from my work. That’s…not good.
Phil Phillips – Sea of Love – Whether it’s the stand alone album or the collection, Phillips had one time to really shine with “Sea of Love”. The rest of his material is passable late 50’s, early 60’s orchestrated R&B crooning.
Philwit & Pegasus – Philwit & Pegasus – An eccentric producer tried to create a song-cycle fusing classical, easy-listening and pop. It was boring as hell, except for “My What a Lovely Day It’s Been” which is perfect sunshine pop. Ignore the rest unless you need to sleep.
Pink Floyd – The DIvision Bell – They stuck around one album too long.
Planet P Project – Planet P Project – Overly long dystopian tales used to be the purview of progressive rockers, not young adult authors. “Why Me” got a lot of MTV play – the rest seems kind of bleak, and definitely sounds dated. BTW – this is bascially Tony Carey, with some lead guitar and drum help. A fine, fine day when this album hit the Top 50.
Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plan Pour Moi – Yeah, it’s a fun song, especially if you remember hearing it long ago. Nothing else is up to that level, not even in camp.
Pop Evil – Lipstick on the Mirror – There’s a hook there, a riff there, but it’s all kinda generic hard rock with an acoustic guitar underpinning. You already know what it sounds like – especially with the mid-tempo so it can be acceptable for radio.
The Premiers – Farmer John – A “live” album which really was recorded in a studio with a group of female admirers in attendance. The attendees kind of detract from some of the proceedings, and well, it’s just a so-so garage band album anyway buoyed by one timeless song.
Primitive Radio Gods – Rocket – Is it fair to judge a record that sounds so generically 1996 in 2016? Well…yeah. The music press excoriated this record, but all I can say is that it’s not better or worse than any bland product from that year.
Raybeats – Guitar Beat – “Tight Turn” was my entree into this early 80’s updated surf-rock combo. They came from the No-Wave scene in NY, and updated the surf sound using a very heavy bass along with the twang, which made them stand out. It’s great in small doses, like most surf rock instrumental combos.
Real Life – Heart Land – “Send Me an Angel” is the cut for all of us to enjoy, and think back of those great days of MTV. It’s full of synth driven goodness. They had a second Top 40 hit in “Catch Me I’m Falling” which isn’t that great. A couple other tracks were decent enough to spin again, but really you just need to find the original (not re-recorded or remixed) version of the hit.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – Don’t You Fake It – While “Face Down” was notable in its calling out of domestic violence, their sound was so generic and full of the components I dislike the most of 00’s alterna-rock, with the mixing of the drums and how everything sounds so pinched. They’ve got others after this, which offer more of the same with diminishing returns.
Dan Reed Network – Dan Reed Network – This Portland, OR band tried to fuse R&B, early hip-hop, and rock and never quite got there. They’re hamstrung by the VERY 80’S drum and keyboard sounds, and Reed’s vocals sound smarmy most of the time.
Render – When the Light Burned Out – For a band that was active in 2006 and 2007, there’s…nothing except a blurb on last.fm. It’s generic hard rock that’s probably appealing to some, but still, weird that there’s very few footprints from them on the web.
REO Speedwagon – This Time We Mean It, Lost in a Dream – These two records were recorded with Michael Murphy, who replaced Kevin Cronin only to be replaced by Kevin Cronin. REO without Kevin Cronin is just flaccid midwest ‘rock’. Grab a comp if you’re really interested in this cornfield rock from the mid-70’s
Republica – Republica – “Ready to Go” is perfect for intros for sports broadcasts, and has been used many times for that purpose. You know you’ve heard it, but admit it, you didn’t know who it was. I didn’t either until this project. As for the album, stick to the song.
Rhythm Heritage – Disco-Fied – It’s probably better to watch old episodes of S.W.A.T, to be honest.
Mia Riddle / James Black – The Ship of Dreams – Each artist gets five songs, but unlike many dual releases their styles totally clash. I’m a Mia Riddle fan, but here she sings acoustic folk songs way too precious for my ears, and Black just rubbed me the wrong way.
Jeannie C. Riley – Twenty Golden Hits – “Harper Valley, PTA” is the one that made her career. Sad to say that story song could still happen here in these times, no doubt. The others are competent, but of lesser quality. “The Girl Most Likely” was the closest.
The Routers – Let’s Go! With the Routers and 1963 Great Instrumental Hits – The Routers were a real band about as much as Milli Vanilli. Michael Z. Gordon formed the Routers and other ‘bands’ in the early 60’s to play instrumental originals and covers and he used the best session musicians he could find in LA. The one anyone remembers is “Let’s Go!” which of course EVERYONE knows the hand claps for. Ric Ocasek should send Gordon some royalties.
The Royal Guardsmen – Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, etc. etc. – A half-baked Florida pop group got the chance to record a cute novelty song about Snoopy and the Red Baron. You’ve heard it. You’ve probably heard “The Return of the Red Baron” and especially “Snoopy’s Christmas”. Have you heard anything non-Snoopy related by them? No. For good reason.
Sailcat – Motorcycle Mama – A short-lived band that really was more southern rock than anything. The rest of the album, a kinda-sorta concept about a rogue motorcyclist, sounds nothing like the single for the most part.
Saltwater Taffy – Finders Keepers – Straddling between sunshine pop and bubble gum, the title track of this puff candy of a band hit #105 and they became losers and weepers.
Samantha Sang – Emotion – It’s MOR, it’s kinda goopy, but it’s partially redeemed by the participation of the Bee Gees, who make everything they touch a little better.
Sapphire Thinkers – From Within – Straddling sunshine pop and psychedelic rock, it’s pleasant but you can tell why it sank like a stone in 1969.
Shakespears Sister – Sacred Heart and Hormonally Yours – This kind of British electronic pop music sounds quite dated at this time. “Stay” was the one hit here in the US and their signature song in the UK, and that caused a rift so large that Siobhan Fahey (former Bananarama) decided to end the band by having their publicist announce the breakup at an award show.
The Silhouettes – Get a Job – While the title track is fantastic, the group never ascended the heights again.
Silverhead – Silverhead, 16 and Savaged – Michael Des Barres (remember him) and Nigel Harrison (later of Blondie) and the others out-sleazed even the sleaziest glam band. That’s not a compliment.
Paul Simon – Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin’ – Released to tide fans over between releases, this is a pleasant enough live set but doesn’t add much in terms of the interpretation of the songs.
Sir Douglas Quintet – The Best of the Sir Douglas Quintet , The Complete Mercury Masters– Best Of is NOT a compilation. In fact, this is their debut album. Due to license fun, that’s notcompiled with their other work (or anything else by Doug Sahm). It’s got its moments, but nothing to the caliber of “She’s About a Mover”, which any music fan worth their salt should have in their catalog. The rest of their catalog is on Mercury Masters, which has “Mendocino” (also a must have track). The rest is up to you and your love of farfisa and Tex-Mex rhythms.
Skin Yard – Skin Yard – This band not only influenced about every grunge band in the Pacific Northwest, but it also gave the world producer Jack Endino. Yet this first album was way too complex to cohere, and the songs were drowned in their meandering attemps to be ‘clever’. Matt Cameron left to drum for Soundgarden, where his drumming fit in a lot better with their burgeoning complexity.
Slaughter – Stick It To Ya – Coming at the very end of the hair-metal era, this album had a couple three ear candy metal songs with hooks galore. The rest made Poison seem literate, and then they got…worse. But “Up All Night” and “Fly to the Angels” need their propers.
Frankie Smith – Children of Tomorrow (also known as Double Dutch Bus on later releases) – You can rest assured that you didn’t miss anything by not buying the entire album when “Double Dutch Bus” was a hit. Did you know that the slang Snoop uses (shizzle and all that) originated with Frankie? He explains it all in “Slang Thang”:.Still, give me a HO if you got your funky bus fare!
The Smoke – It’s Smoke Time – Those of us who love psychedelic / garage rock oddities know that “My Friend Jack” is one of the best examples of that era. The band released several other singles and an album, but while they’re not awful, I’m passing on everything but the well-known track.
Sneaker Pimps – Becoming X – Trip-hop wasn’t exclusively a Portishead thing, especially in the UK. But it seemed that was the only group to sustain it over an album. Even in a genre where sound is the key, songs matter.
Some Girls – Feel It, Crushing Love – A spin off from the Lemonheads / Blake Babies / Antenna axis, led by Juliana Hatfield and Freda Love. They’re pleasant, and forgettable.
Speed, Glue, & Shinki – Eve, Speed, Glue, & Shinki – Japanese slacker-stoner blues rock from the early 70’s. Yeah, you heard me. It’s interesting in concept, and pedestrian in execution.
The Spells – The Age of Backwards – A side project from Mary Timony and Carrie Brownstein. It’s a curio for die-hards of Helium or Sleater-Kinney.
Mark Spoelstra – Five & Twenty Questions and State of Mind – One of the ‘new Dylans’ appointed by the folk community in an effort to replace the now-electric Dylan, Spoelstra was a traditionalist with acoustic guitar and liberal anti-war politics. He’s earnest, but aside from a couple of lasting songs sounds dated for the most part. Good listen for folkie die-hards though.
Steel Breeze – Steel Breeze – “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” got them on MTV. They didn’t stay there as the rest of the material was generic new wave of the meh-ist kind. Vocalist Rick Jacobs has some weird vocal tics at times, and the keyboards can overwhelm the songs – in other words the usual new wave thing.
Steeler – Steeler. Known for being Yngwie Malmsteen’s first band (he was a hired gun the producer brought in to do the solos), this is proof positive that good guitar solos (which are the only redeeming quality here) can’t prop up banal songs. From Wikipedia: “During Steeler’s short time in the world of Heavy Metal, the band became quite popular in LA and even performed to some sold out venues”. No size of said venues given, of course.
Jermaine Stewart – Frantic Romantic – He wasn’t a one-hit wonder (he did have a few other charting hits), but his mid-80’s R&B is slight, light on the funk, and heavy on the robotic dance sounds.
Stories – Stories, About Us – As one-hit wonders go, they’re pretty accomplished, and featured ex-Left Banke Michael Brown. Yet, their hit was a cover of a song by Hot Chocolate which did them no favors, and soon Brown and lead singer Ian Lloyd knew the time was up.
The Story – Angel in the House – Kinda sorta kinda like the Indigo Girls, only New England-style. I got “Fatso” on a mix CD, and it was OK. I think I’d like them in a coffee shop or something. The issue is the kind of dated production – even in 1993 this sounded dated.
The Strangeloves– I Want Candy – They also have a hits collection with the same name. No matter. They’re just a studio goof (studio musicians pretending to be Australian, of all things) that had three great singles (“I Want Candy”, “Cara-Lin”, and “Night Time”). Three hits better than none, of course!
Foster Sylvers – Foster Sylvers. Foster was the young star of the Sylvers, who had some hits in the mid-70’s. First, this was a ‘solo’ album taking advantage of the outstanding “Misdemeanor” and positioning him to be the next Michael Jackson or Donny Osmond. It didn’t quite work out, though the family band had some hits in the disco era. The filler is as filling as filler gets, but at least the band is semi funky.
Talk Show – Talk Show. 3/4 of Stone Temple Pilots and one generic vocalist. Add them together and you miss the other 1/4 of Stone Temple Pilots.
Technotronic – Pump Up the Jam – Everyone knows the title track. Many people know “Get Up”. Later, “Move This” became a single (and on Ya Kid K’s solo record). Most everything sounds the damn same. Same beat, same keyboard arpeggios, same basslines. Dance, MFer, Dance!
The Tee Set – My Belle Amie – A Dutch band that was popular in the late 60’s in Europe, and had a fluke hit with the title cut of this album. The rest of their output sounds like European pop of the late 60’s – trying to hard to be like Tom Jones. They have an anothology that has 96 (count ’em!) tracks, just in case you can’t get enough of bombastic shout-singing.
Nino Tempo & April Stevens – Deep Purple – A moldy oldy even when they recorded it, the title track is the only thing lasting from this brother / sister duo, though they kept trying for years.
Rob Thomas – Something to Be – Can you tell the difference between Matchbox 20 and Rob Thomas solo? No peeking.
Johnny Thunders – So Alone – I’m probably the contrarian amongst ink-stained wretches, but I never subscribed to the brilliance of Thunders, because I always think there’s another element driving the groups success.
Tin Machine – Tin Machine – Is it as bad as you think it is? No. Is it as good as some would leave you believe? No. Thus, this slight, short entry.
The Tingling Mother’s Circus – A Circus of the Mind – Bubble gum psychedelia was kind of a thing in 1968 / 1969, so Musicor Records assembled some studio musicians led by wunderkind guitarist Elliott Randall (who made his bones playing for Steely Dan in the studio). It’s really not that bad for what it is. Their version of “New York Mining Disaster 1941” is really too upbeat for words.
The Toys – The Toys Sing “A Lover’s Concerto” and “Attack” – They sang other songs too, mostly covers, nothing that special. “Attack” is ok, but “A Lover’s Concerto” is where their meal ticket was.
Tonto’s Expanding Headband – Zero Time – The history of the TONTO synthesizer is rich, and probably needs to be expanded into book form. Stevie Wonder used it, as did Devo, and others. It sounds great for an honest to god synthesizer. But as an album of songs? I don’t know.
Transplants – Transplants– I always look suspiciously at side projects. Sometimes they’re fine; many times they’re self-indulgent. This is Tim Armstrong from Rancid, with one of their roadies and Travis Barker. It’s a punk / hip hop cross that isn’t bad, but it’s probably one of the worst things you can be in a punk / hip hop sense. Boringly safe for the most part.
Trash Talk – 119 – They have energy and anger, but that only gets you so far if you can’t stand yourself out from the hardcore pack.
Trick Trick – The People vs. – One hit “Welcome 2 Detroit” thanks to a hook and a verse from Eminem. The rest of the tracks needed that boost, alas it didn’t happen.
Tracy Ullman – You Broke My Heart in 17 Places – When this first appeared in the US, no one here knew she was a comedian. She took her musical career seriously, mostly, except for “The B-Side” which was the backing side to her huge international hit “They Don’t Know”. She left music after an incident on German TV coupled with the declining sales of her second album. We’re better for it that she concentrated on comedy.
The Unforgiven – The Unforgiven – More remembered for their image (Young Guns before it became a thing) and their four guitars (why?) than their music. “I Hear the Call” was played a lot on MTV, but it didn’t translate to sales, nor a second album.
Vampire Hands – Virgin Dust, Amreican Lips; Hannah in the Mansion; Me & You & Cherry Red – Not Vampire Weekend, but an arty indie rock band from the Twin Cities that alternated between interesting, boring, and arty-farty. Dissonant chords and muted vocals to the fore! (Well, muted vocals to the aft I guess.)
Vanity Fare – Early in the Morning – “Hitchin’ A Ride” made hitchhiking a sunny fun time activity. Of course, that’s not quite the case. The song, though, is a true earworm. The title track was another decent sized hit. The rest of the record are failed singles of all types and sorts.
Randy Vanwarmer –Warmer and Beat of Love– Yeah, everyone knows “Just When I Needed You Most”, and while that cut is treacle, the production and arrangement are pretty neat (besides the requisite strings and gunky keyboards). His third album had one absolute gem in “Suzi Found a Weapon” (the fact it stalled at #55 is a sad commentary on the charts). There’s a scant few others that are keeper sand the rest are blah variations of a blah theme (soupy ballads or half-hearted pop-rockers).
Veruca Salt – Resolver, IV – These were the albums Louise Post recorded after Nina Gordon and her had a falling out. It really shows that the two of them needed each other. Half of the tracks here would be B-sides at best in their glory days.
Vetiver – Vetiver – For those who like that acoustic folk thing, this is right up your alley. It didn’t move me, but that may be my lack of patience.
Vixen – Vixen – It was time for the ladies to take back the Aqua-Net. And yes, they had a few moments, but generic hair-metal knew no gender.
Roger Voudouris – Radio Dreams – A one-hit wonder with four albums released on a major label (how did that happen?), a few of us remember “Get Used to It”, the top-25 single from this album. The whole record is a product of 1979 through and through, with cheesy synths, strings mixed in the back, a laid-back vibe, and everything pointing to the hook
The Wailers (US) (a/k/a The Fabulous Wailers)- Out of Our Tree and Tall Cool One – Besides the Sonics the Wailers were the royalty of the Pacific Northwest garage and party band scene once the Raiders became national. The fact that a good compilation isn’t streaming isn’t right, because they had some great originals and filled in with popular songs of the day.
John Waite – Ignition, No Brakes – “Missing You” is a quintessential 80’s song, but “Change” introduced him to the US. His album after No Brakes introduced him to the “where are they now” file.
Anita Ward – Songs of Love (or Ring My Bell) – No matter the title, there’s really just one go-to song by Ms. Ward. “Ring My Bell” may be the quintessential disco one-hit wonder song. That song went to #1 on the Hot 100, R&B, Dance and the UK charts. Her follow-up hit #87 on the Hot 100 and there you go. There are several permutations of her two disco albums AND re-recordings to be wary of.
Ben Watt – North Marine Drive – Rather much stripped down and bleak sounding album of his work pre-Everything But the Girl. Eh…
Wax – What Else Can We Do, 13 Unlucky Numbers – Remember the video in the 90’s where the guy is on fire? That was Wax, and the song was “California”. The video was better than the song.
We Five – You Were on My Mind – Surprising there’s not a streaming compilation for them. Yet, I bet it would wind up here anyway. Easy listening pablum, though Beverly Bivens had a great voice.
Leslie West – Mountain – Before Mountain became an official band, West recorded this with Felix Pappalardi and N. D. Smart, and then got on the Woodstock bill with an official band. This shows West’s a loud guitar player, and as a singer he’s a loud guitar player.
Mason Williams – The Mason Williams Phonograph Record – “Classical Gas” is, of course, your point of entry, and probable exit. The other songs are heavily orchestrated songs, some serious, some silly, and nothing essential.