I had an interesting discussion with a music buddy about some of the least popular, best discs of the past few decades.

The challenge: Name 5 outstanding Rock and Roll albums that 90% of the music buying/downloading public are unfamiliar with.

3 rules:

1. Rock and Roll (including Pop)!  No jazz, classical or world music

2. Obscure: Not a big seller, relatively unknown, not a top 40 song or a top 100 Album;

3. Outstanding album: The disc must be great, listenable from start to finish, cohesive, with one good song after another and a handful of great ones.

Defining what obscure is was also a challenge — a popular UK album unknown in the US counts, but vice-versa didn’t.

We set an arbitrary cut off date of 25 years — there is simply too many great albums from the 1960s and 70s, and those unknowns are more a function of age than obscurity (UPDATE: The older mega-hits “discovered” in comments confirms this). Anything released after 1985 is fair game. And we went with Rock, because there are simply too many obscure Jazz recordings out there.

Cutting it down to just 5 was difficult, but gave the exercise some focus. I will publish my list next Friday.

What are your 5 favorite unknown CDs?

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

245 Responses to “5 Best Unknown Rock Albums ?”

  1. The hardest part of putting my list together is the issue of obscurity

    Matthew Sweet Freedy Johnson, Morcheeba, Michael Penn, Bitter:Sweet, Magic Numbers — can I really call their best albums obscure ?

  2. srvbeach21 says:

    Los Lobos – Kiko

  3. TakBak04 says:

    I don’t know if this one fits your criteria for best of “Unknown Albums” …..but I’ve got a new crowd of folks who thought this group’s work was “Pop” in the 80′s….but now thinks it’s the First Time they ever heard it.

    Who could figure how tastes change? This is an incredible DVD for their Performance and there is an Album. The video of the whole thing was cool to my and my friends taste. A new VIEW of “H&O’s.”


    Hall & Oates ‘Live At The Troubadour’ Out Nov. 25; See Four Songs From The DVD Here!
    November 21st, 2008 7:00pm EST 1 comment favorite Add to My News
    Hall & OatesIn May 2008, Daryl Hall and John Oates took the stage at the legendary Troubadour for the first time since playing their earliest Los Angeles shows there 35 years before. The best performances from this much anticipated two-night concert, which included hits such as “Maneater,” “Private Eyes,” “Rich Girl,” “Sara Smile” and “Kiss On My List,” will be made available in three formats – DVD, Blu-Ray, and a 1-DVD/2-CD combo, via Shout! Factory on November 25.

    “John and I have a lot of great memories associated with performing at the Troubadour, since it was our first show in LA,” said Daryl. “It’s like going back to where it all began for us. We’ve always had an enthusiastic following in Los Angeles, and this is a chance for our fans to see us up close and personal in an intimate setting.”


  4. schmoo says:

    Tim – The Replacements

    ’nuff said.

  5. doctoraction says:

    The Clash – Sandinista (1980, but i didn’t learn of it until the oughts)


    BR: That was a HUGE album, wedged between London Calling (1979) and Combat Rock (1982)

  6. cwf says:

    Roger Waters – Radio K.A.O.S.
    Big Head Todd & The Monsters – Midnight Radio
    Lou Reed – New York
    Ben Lee – Breathing Tornados
    Ric Ocasek – This Side of Paradise

  7. xeren says:

    I can’t think of 5, but i can think of a couple:

    Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane over the Sea

    It’s very indie, very lo-fi, and takes a few full listens just to get to the point of not hating it (thus its obscure nature) but if you can get past that, you’ll agree with many critics that it may be the perfect album.

    Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel the Illinoise!

    Sufjan’s album about the state of Illinois, part of his now-defunct 50-state/50 albums project feels both very big in songs like “Chicago” and “Jacksonville”, and incredibly intimate in songs like “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is out to Get Us!” and “Casimir Pulaski Day”. Another fantastic album that most people will never hear, unfortunately.

  8. blueoysterjoe says:

    My musical tastes are probably heavier and, uh, stonier than most of your fan base, but I’m a Gen-X’er from the Pacific NW, so what can you do. Flannel 4 life.

    1. Sky Valley – Kyuss – criminally under-appreciated desert skateboard stoner rock; lead guitarist now heads up Queens of the Stone Age.

    2. Bullhead – The Melvins – proto-grunge, without all the sniveling.

    3. Liveage – Descendents – nerd punk; lead singer is a PhD bio-chemist / loser.

    4. Queen Elvis – Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians – barely even rock, but awesome. Titular song contains best lyrics ever written.

    5. Go For It … Live! – Fu Manchu – fast car rock for kids who were teens in the 90s.

  9. alfred e says:

    But, but, but. … There was no real rock after 1985.

    Maybe phony. But NOT REAL ROCK.

  10. blueoysterjoe says:

    My own comments notwithstanding, I have to agree with Schmoo. It is one of the great mysteries of rock that the Replacements aren’t as appreciated as they should be.

  11. alfred e says:

    OK, given the rules, here goes my list (have no idea 5%), but suspect:

    P J Harvey – To Bring You My Love

    Train – Drops of Jupiter

    Dido – No Angel

    The Breeders – Pod

    Would like to add great obscure – Alan Parsons Project – i Robot, but 1977 and maybe not deemed rock


    BR: Train – Drops of Jupiter was a big radio hit
    Dido – No Angel had Thank You you on it, one of the top songs of the year!

    We can call Alan Parsons Project prog rock (Yes, Genesis, etc.) but they were very, very well known. For you young ‘uns, Alan Parsons was the engineer on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

  12. syncopationelation says:

    UGK-Ridin Dirty
    UGK-Underground Kingz
    Bun B- Trill
    Three 6 Mafia-Kings of Memphis: Underground 3

  13. SANETT says:

    For decompression and healing:

    > Keola Beamer (Tales from the Dream Guitar)
    > Zazen (Canyons of Light)
    > Ozzie Kotani (To Honor a Queen)

    For the exact opposite:

    > Rick Wakeman (White Rock II)
    > Yes (Keys to Ascension)

  14. Captain Ned says:

    Guadalcanal Diary – Flip-Flop
    The Brandos – Honor Among Thieves
    Face to Face – One Big Day
    Lone Justice – Shelter
    James McMurtry – Too Long in the Wasteland

  15. In order of awesomeness, 1 being the most awesome.

    5. Some Cities – Doves (should’ve been bigger than Coldplay)

    4. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel (nothing like it ever made before or since)

    3. Kill to Get Crimson – Mark Knopfler (your CD player’s heart will break)

    2. Blinking Lights and Other Revelations – Eels (a double album masterpiece)

    1. Sumday – Grandaddy (a technophobic masterpiece from 2003, accurately predicted the economic crash and degenerative effects of Californian urban sprawl.)

    buy ‘em all, trust me.


    BR: I love Knopfler, I’m a huge Dire Straights fan . . .

  16. slow learner says:

    Dinosaur Jr. – You’re Living All Over Me
    Sebadoh – Sebadoh III
    My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
    Eugenius – Mary Queen of Scots
    The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

  17. PeterR says:

    OT — because this is pre-1985:

    “It’s a Beautiful Day” !!!

    Excellence knows no time-constraints.

    Have a good weekend.

  18. E says:

    In the Aeroplane over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
    Live – Built To Spill
    Rainy Day Music – The Jayhawks
    All Hail West Texas – The Mountain Goats
    Let It Bloom – The Black Lips

  19. Charlatan says:

    It’s a safe bet that over 95% of all people ages 20-40 in the UK have heard of The Charlatans. I would also bet that a MAJORITY of them would list The Charlatans as one of the 10 best bands of the past 20 years. They still play to sold old shows all over Europe every year. Although they tour here occasionally, I would be surprised if more than 1 or 2% of the people in this country over the age of 18 has heard of them. A couple of their later albums weren’t great (e.g. Up at the Lake). But here are my five favorite, plus a

    1. Us and Only Us (The Charlatans)
    2. The Charlatans (labeled “Beggars Banquet” in the U.S.)
    3. Tellin’ Stories (The Charlatans)
    4. Between 10th and 11th (The Charlatans)
    5. You Cross My Path (The Charlatans)

    Three non-Charlatans picks:

    1. When the Sun is the Moon (Hudson Bell)
    2. Jesus East (Black Cab)
    3. Passover (Black Angels)

  20. oji says:

    Anything from JackoPierce, although you might consider it folk-rock.

    “Bringing On the Weather” might be my favorite.

  21. mattice28 says:

    How about:

    Chris Whitely ‘Reiter On’
    Forest for the Trees
    Greg Brown “Evening Call’
    Willard Grant Conspiracy ‘Regard the End’
    Calexico ‘Garden Ruin’

    I was going to list the Eels ‘Live at Town Hall’ but noticed they had been previously mentioned.

  22. Julia Chestnut says:

    The only thing that occurs to me within the narrow specifications is “Brothers in Arms,” Dire Straits. It was a reasonably popular album, but very far from ubiquitous. Sold well for Dire Straits in the US, for what that is worth. But it was an outstanding, outstanding album – one of the best of the decade easily. Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” is another pop/rock album that was outstanding and did very little business in the US. REM’s “Document” came out, like ’87 — and was excellent. “Life’s Rich Pageant,” too. Didn’t sell that much. The rest of what was excellent either came well before 85 or sold well (well, pretty well) — like the Violent Femmes. Like the Smiths “Meat is Murder.”

    So I suppose I’d have to say

    “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits
    “Document” by REM
    “Meat is Murder” the Smiths
    “Texas Flood” by Stevie Ray Vaughn

    “Blackout” by the Scorpions was too early, I think – but that was a truly excellent album.

    Again, this is all not really what I’d call classic rock and roll, although Stevie and Dire Straits are directly related. Scorpions is kind of metal, REM and Smiths would have been alternative.


    BR: Brothers in Arms was a giant smash hit for Dire Straits Those two outstanding REM albums — Document and Life’s Rich Pageant — were college radio staples for years. (I also love Murmur and Reckoning)

  23. Jessica6 says:

    I’ve had obscure tastes since I before I started high school (which coincidentally, was in 1985) and some of the bands I was into have since become some of the biggest acts around. But I guess some of the earlier stuff would still be obscure.

    If it were bands I’d have a lot of trouble narrowing it to five and of course there’s obscure songs I love but the rest of the album isn’t anything special (like Terminal Sunglasses – My Cat Got Run Over by a Bus).

    Off the top of my head, if only considering entire albums:

    1. Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven by Love & Rockets (I’d have put Tones on Tail’s Pop but that came out in 1984, I think)
    2. Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen
    3. Life’s Rich Pagaent by R.E.M. (their best one, imo, and while the band is certainly not obscure I don’t think this particular record is well-known.
    4. Aion by Dead Can Dance
    5. Savvy Show Stoppers by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet – really cool spaghetti-western surf songs. They did the theme for the TV show Kids in the Hall.

    I have to admit I never ‘got’ the Replacements. Gave them an honest listen a few times and never understood why music critics loved them so much. Same for Neutral Milk Hotel.

    Love Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians – seen him several times in concert – very witty performer too. Love the Stone Roses as well.

  24. CTRSteve says:

    T-Bone Burnett – True False Identity
    Cash Brothers – How Was Tomorrow
    Steve Earle – El Corazon
    Living Color – Vivid
    Uncle Tupelo – No Depression (Would’ve used Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but it got so much critical acclaim I don’t know if it qualifies)

  25. helaineo says:

    Understand, I was brought up by folkies who used to take me to Harry Chapin concerts when I was in elementary school:

    Sam Phillips– Martinis and Bikinis
    Eva Cassidy — Live from Blues Alley
    Nanci Griffith — One Fair Summer Evening
    Iris DeMent — Infamous Angel
    The Reels Beautiful

  26. cwf says:

    someone pulled out Lone Justice / Shelter. nice call. great U2 combo concert tour that year too

  27. Jessica6 says:

    Actually, now that I think about it, I’m torn between Life’s Rich Pageant and Reckoning – the one that got me into REM to begin with.

    And Julia Chestnut – great taste in music. Brothers in Arms was really brilliant as well – had forgotten about that one. & Stevie was great too. Died way too soon.

  28. philipat says:

    Barry, actually I don’t fully agree with your comment about earlier albums being obscure just because of age. I certainly agree that there are just too many great albums from the 60′s and 70′s but even then, there are lots of albums which were obscure even back in the day. Nick Drake would be a good example?

    But anyways, following your rules (Yes, SIr!!) I offer the following which are amongst my favourite albums I’m pretty sure nobody will be familiar with:

    “Second you sleep” by Saybia (Danish band)

    “Chrysalis” by Anggun (Indonesian singer)

    And sorry to cheat but I couldn’t resist “Children of the Sun” by Sallyangie (Mike and Sally Oldfield made but one album together before going their separate ways. This is now extremely rare and difficult to find)

  29. Transor Z says:

    Good and obscure…

    Radio K.A.O.S. – nice call, cwf. I’ll second that.

    Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues (1988)

    William Shatner (with Ben Folds) – Has Been (2004) – yes, I’m serious

    Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope (2006) – also a Ben Folds collaborator

    They Might Be Giants – Flood (1990)


    BR: The Regina Spektor disc went gold, selling 500,000 units.

    Flood was They Might Be Giants breakout album, with “Birdhouse In Your Soul”, hitting #3 on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart, and top 40 hit elsewhere. It also had their most well-known song, “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”

  30. polizeros says:

    The Fugs Final CD. Pt 1 (released a few years ago, their best ever)
    Wayne Kramer. Dangerous Madness (from MC5)
    Southern Culture on the Skids. Mojo Box
    Drive-by Truckers. The Dirty South
    Steve Earle. Copperhead Road (maybe not so obscure?)
    James McMurty. Childish Things (w/ the epic “We Can’t Make It Here Any More.”)

    Steve Roach. Structures from Silence (ambient, but a classic)

  31. Greg0658 says:

    no particular order .. and to be sure incomplete .. :
    David Lee Roth – Skyscraper
    Zebra – #1? (1983)
    Triumvirat – Spartacus (not sure if its a Hollywood demo something and not even a band)
    Simple Minds – Once Upon A Time
    Lake – Blue Album (a borrowed copy)

    I took a picture

    ps – Kansas I too

  32. ojzitro says:

    Before I set into drumming up a list, may I say that almost all “good” music nowadays is not popular. There are SO many bands to choose from, it is damn near impossible to keep up. I will keep this mainstream-ish, easy, and to things that are still in heavy rotation on this end:

    1. Los Lobos ~ Kiko (and the Lavender Moon) 1992
    2. The Libertines ~ Up The Bracket 2002
    3. Faith No More ~ Angel Dust 1992
    4. Arcade Fire ~ Funeral 2004
    5. The Deadly Snakes ~ Ode To Joy 2003

    I tried to stick to the “rock” qualifier, and can not in good faith call this a top five. Instead, think of it as 5 albums you MUST buy.

  33. nmewn says:

    Old school…LOL.


    Uriah Heep…not so obscure;

    Deep Purple…only cause your a motorhead BR ;-)

  34. buck says:

    Aeroplane Over the Sea seems to be emerging as a sleeper hit. It gets my vote.

    Are the Magnetic Fields too popular? Yo La Tengo as well? Jeffrey Lewis? Holly Golightly? Iron and Wine? They all put out nearly perfect albums at some point. Replacements and their peers turned out quite a class of great albums about 25 years ago.

    I can’t seem to locate a single album title for those wonderful bands I mention and I think I know why — the iPod essentially killed the concept of the album

  35. KidDynamite says:

    God Street Wine: $1.99 Romances
    Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom
    Phish: A Live One
    moe: L
    Smashing Pumpkins: Gish

  36. MayorQuimby says:

    Here are five randomly-chosen and under-the-radar but nevertheless – STELLAR recordings for you all (no age limits here):

    1. The Libertines – The Libertines
    2. The Kinks – We Are the Village Green Preservation Society
    3. Alice Cooper – Killer
    4. The Fall – This Nation’s Saving Grace
    5. Joe Jackson – Look Sharp


    BR: Look Sharp is a great album, but hardly obscure — It was a huge seller, and nearly every song was a top 40 hit.

  37. buck says:

    PJ Harvey, Mountain Goats, Dead Can Dance, Built to Spill, Sebadoh, Breeders — your readers have come up with a fantastic list of bands I’ve sort of forgotten about. Off to rediscover some classics.

  38. Rob Dawg says:

    Human Sexual Response – Fig 14.

  39. chrisd says:

    1. Red House Painters (aka Rollercoaster) – Red House Painters
    2. Realistic – Ivy
    3. About a Boy (Soundtrack) – Badly Drawn Boy
    4. Workbook – Bob Mould
    5. Grace in Gravity – The Story

  40. Rescission says:

    Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys

  41. Mindrayge says:

    I don’t know where in the “rock ‘n roll” spectrum this would fit but Queensryche’s Operation:Mindcrime is an interesting listen. It runs on a theme, has characters, and a plot.

  42. thegreenphantom says:

    Nice exercise. Now I have a lot to check out.
    So far nobody mentioned
    Jeff Buckley-Grace, mid 90′s. Great talent, tragic death, huge influence on alt rock right now. Also,
    Duncan Sheik-Self Titled
    Josh Rouse-Under Cold Blue Stars
    And one that’s totally obscure,
    Innaway-Self Titled


    BR: I have a few Josh Rouse albums — very nice, mellow stuff . . .

  43. VennData says:

    Songs for the Deaf – Queens of Stone Age
    A Thousand Day Dream – Vertebrats
    Wakajawaka – Frank Zappa
    No Depression – Uncle Tupelo
    The Missing Piece – Gentle Giant
    Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain – Pavement

    I may lose one or two on this egregious twenty-five year thing. When did we start getting carded ’round here?

  44. MayorQuimby says:

    Five jazz picks for y’all….

    1. Marcus Roberts – Alone with Three Giants
    2. Charlie Haden & Quartet West – Now is the Hour
    3. Eric Dolphy – Music Matador
    4. Nina Simone – Nina Simone Sings the Blues
    5. Chico Hamilton Quartet w/ Dolphy – The Original Ellington Suite

  45. ArtE says:

    In the brief part of the early 90′s when Jimi Hendrix was “open sourced” a DJ group from the UK called the Beautiful People released a CD called “If the 60′s were the 90′s.” If was so amazing, I had to pull off onto the shoulder of the westbound Santa Monica freeway and call KCRW to ask what was playing. I had a pal in the Bay area that found it the same day in similar way. It is truly amazing and I hope that if you don’t already have it, you can round it up.

  46. nobetanofun says:

    Barry – I would definitely listen to Ambulance Ltd.’s 2004 record “LP”. Far and away the best rock/pop record of the decade. They were from NYC, only put out this in 2004 and an EP in 2006 and that was all, although the singer/songwriter recorded another record that John Cale produced but hasn’t been released. Absolutely wonderful, strong tunes start to finish, draws on a ton of influences.

    I would also second Neutral Milk Hotel, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is a listening experience for music nerds. Will make you cry if you can get through the rough production. Also suggest Explosions In The Sky’s “The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place”. Instrumental post-rock, but the soundtrack of my life of the decade. The track “Memorial” is earth-shattering. They did the soundtrack for Friday Night Lights too. A friend of mine who runs a hedge fund listens to them when he’s working late into the night.

    Finally I would suggest The Wrens, “The Meadowlands”. Came out in 2003 and was my album of all-time. Just a great rock record by a bunch of guys from NJ who should have been much bigger than they were. Good fun, thanks for the post.

  47. Lords of Acid – Lust
    Flunk – Morning Star
    Agent Orange – Living in Darkness
    Hüsker Dü – Candy Apple Grey/New Day Rising/Zen Arcade (none perfect, but almost)
    Butthole Surfers –

    Deadkennedys – Moon Over Marin (single)

  48. teddysalad says:

    Interstellar – To Sleep To Dream To Wake
    DJ Tiesto – In Search of Sunrise 5
    Dead Can Dance – Into the Labyrinth
    Stereolab – Pretty much anything
    They Might Be Giants – Flood

  49. Bob is still unemployed says:

    Cheater Jones – Bombshell

  50. Jojo says:

    There is something major wrong about music lists w/o links to the music!

  51. MayorQuimby says:


  52. Rick Schaut says:

    All rather obscure, and all have at least some live cuts.

    1. Phil Lesh and Friends, “There and Back Again (Limited Edition)”
    2. The Derek Trucks Band, “Live at Georgia Theater”
    3. Neville Brothers, “Love on Planet Earth”
    4 Van Morrison, “A Night in San Francisco”
    5. Warren Haynes, “Live at Bonnaroo”


    BR: Nite in SF is a great Van the man live album — but those songs are hugely known.

  53. jonathanb says:

    Aren’t there a million nerds with a million typewriters making sure that no semi-decent rock band from here to Mongolia goes unrecognized?

  54. floating stinging butterfly says:

    David Bowie – Low
    Until the End of the World – Soundtrack (Sax & Violins, Daniel Lanois, etc.)
    Passengers (Soundtrack — Eno & U2)
    Hot Tuna – Double Dose (Killing Time in the Crystal City, etc.)
    Little Feat – Waiting for Columbus
    Les McCann – Invitation to Openness

  55. Bob is still unemployed says:

    jojo – quite correct.

    Here is a link to a song from the funky Bombshell album I noted.

  56. esteban says:

    Jojo is right — all fanboys/girls should go the extra mile and post links if they want their obscure recordings to become slightly less obscure. Here are my nominations with links to the Amazon page with samples (hopefully this works)…

    Buffalo Tom – Let Me Come Over

    Superchunk – No Pocky for Kitty

    Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen

    Babes in Toyland – Fontanelle

    Mudhoney – Superfuzz Bigmuff

  57. Daffyorbugs says:

    Robben Ford and The Blue Line- 1992

  58. bonerici says:

    frank allison hokey smoke
    dirtbombs chains of love
    pascal pascal goes pop
    ssm break your arms for evolution
    deastro light powered

    These are all local MI bands that never made it. Kind of sick of seeing all these listings with top 40 bands like Van Morrison, The Cars or Pink Floyd.

  59. nobetanofun says:

    I forgot Spoon’s “A Series Of Sneaks”, came out in 1998. A riff on a Wire record, incredibly solid start to finish. Not a bad song in the bunch, even when some clock in under 1:30. The track “30 Gallon Tank” is my Peak Oil song of all time, and also a kick-ass tune, would make a great bar-fight song.

    Also Built To Spill, “Perfect From Now On”. When an indie band finally makes it to the bigs with a major label and still puts out a record where the average song runs over six minutes you know they’re all about the music and this will blow you away.

  60. Patrick Neid says:

    Sporto Kantes—Act 1

    Lhasa De Sala—-La Llorona

    Baby Fox —Dum Dum Baby

    David Holmes–Bow Down To The Exit

    Marc Almond—Enchanted

    Sneaker Pimps—Bloodsport

    Heather Nova—Oyster

  61. jake103 says:

    The Bouncing Souls – How I Spent My Summer Vacation
    Toadies – Rubberneck

    And I would say this was too popular an album, but not necessarily known….

    Sublime – 40 Oz to Freedom

  62. alfred e says:


    You’re a NASDAQ Apple guy.

    You’re doing nothing more than pumping your Apple iTunes stock, which you never quit doing. If they get the fidelity above MP3 it might continue to work. As if it’s not working. But for how much longer.

    Otherwise it was kind of a fun evening.



    BR: I recommended AAPL after I got a hold of the first iPod — it ws $15 (pre-split), with $13 cash. Sold it near $200 in Dec 2007, with everything else. Haven’t owned it since.

    (This is why we have moderated comments — so i can catch bad dope lijke this and correct it in real time)

  63. This is for Barry. I’d have to nominate two NY’ers. The first two albums by either Willie Nile(Willie Nile & Golden Down or Jesse Malin(The Fine Art of Self Destruction & The Heat.

  64. beaufou says:

    Simple Minds – Street fighting years
    Joe Jackson – Rain
    Manic Street Preachers – Send away the tigers
    Stone Roses – Second coming
    Peter Gabriel – Passion (music from the last temptation of Christ)

    Not all rock…sorry.


    BR: The Gabriel Passion disc is an interesting choice (I own anything he does) It was part of the huge Last Temptation movie controversy — and is probably more widely known than actually heard . . .

  65. seattledave says:

    Only 1 to add and I’m not sure about the year, might be too old. John Mayall did a reunion double album with some the greats that passed through his bands when they were largely unknowns. Clapton, Mick Taylor, Johnny Almond, Sugarcane Harris, Keef Hartley and about 10 others. Name of the album is Back to the Roots. I bought it in a used record store and have never seen it anywhere else.

  66. Jefferson says:


    Velvet Underground–all original albums

    Everyone should have a chance to hear this music.

  67. triviadelinquent says:

    1. Warren Zevon – “Transverse City” – Start to finish brilliant
    2. New Order – “Regret”
    3. Morrissey – “Bona Drag” – Beautiful sadness
    4. Billy Bragg – “Don’t try this at home” – The last socialist rocker


    BR: Every girl you wanted to nail in college was into Morrissey . . . hardly unknown!

  68. zzzalpo says:

    Richard Thompson, “Shoot Out the Lights”
    Meat Puppets, “Up on the Sun”
    Hunters & Collectors, “The Jaws of Life”
    X, “Under the Big Black Sun”
    Minutemen, “Double Nickels on the Dime”

  69. rudy d says:

    This is great. I’ve got a lot of downloading to do. Here are mine, though I’m sure I’m forgetting something:

    Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque
    Ride – Going Blank Again
    Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted
    Paul Westerburg – 14 Songs
    The Libertines

    @ charlatan: perhaps my all-time favorite band but I would prefer a greatest hits collection to any of their individual albums.

  70. JeffErp says:

    Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
    Replacements – Pleased To Meet Me
    Black Keys – Rubber Factory
    Wilco – Being There
    The Hold Steady – Boys & Girls in America

  71. Cooter says:

    “Up to Here” – Tragically Hip 1989
    “Down at the Khyber” – Joel Plaskett Emergency 2001
    “Clayton Park” – Thrush Hermit 1999
    “Life behind the 21st century wall” – Johnny Society 2003
    “A new devotion” – The High Dials 2003

    Us Canadians do have an unfair advantage when it comes to listing off obscure awesome rock bands.

  72. Space_Cowboy_NW says:

    File under the title of The Greatest Unknown Guitarist’s [ Telecaster based]

    Danny Gatton and 88 Elmira St.

    Roy Buchanan and Sweet Dreams: the Anthology (stunning version of Green Onions)

    There is a reason why each are listed in top 100 guitarist listing (rolling stone)

  73. patient renter says:

    My picks don’t go too far back, but they include some criminally unknown artists:

    Magnet – On Your Side
    Melpo Mene – Bring the Lions Out
    Mew – And the Glass Handed Kites
    Cardia – Cardia
    The Joy Circuit – EP1

  74. comet52 says:

    Repo Man soundtrack – various
    Greetings from Timbuk 3 – Timbuk3
    Up on the Sun – Meat Puppets
    Monsters – Meat Puppets

    and the immortal
    Texas Funeral – John Wayne

  75. comet52 says:

    sorry that should be Jon without an h

  76. PCarey says:

    Vulgar Boatmen – Please Panic
    Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    Ali Farka Toure & Ry Cooder – Talking Timbuktu
    Portishead – Dummy
    Chuck E. Weiss – Extremely Cool

  77. Entroducing – DJ Shadow
    Breathless – My Bloody Valentine
    Z- My Morning Jacket
    Sea Change – Beck
    Arular – MIA
    Stankonia – OutKast
    Naked – Talking Heads
    Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective

  78. Space_Cowboy_NW says:

    Addendum: if either of these do not jump start your mojo, you may need serious medical assistance!

    Showdown (Robert Cray, Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland) – Grammy award in ’87

    Harp Attack (Junior Wells, James Cotton, Harp Attack, Carey Bell, Billy Branch)

    As Muddy (Waters) once said: “The Blues are the Roots, everything else is the fruits”

  79. joethewombat says:

    Hard-Fi — Stars of CCTV ***Why are these guys not successful in the US?
    Hard-Fi — Once Upon a Time in the West
    Tragically Hip — Up to Here ***”New Orleans is Sinking” is one of the greatest ever
    Operation Ivy — Energy ***Greatest punk album of all time
    La Frontera — La Frontera ***Yes, it’s in Spanish. Listen to Viva Las Vegas and you’ll get it.

  80. steve hulett says:

    “California Bloodlines” by John Stewart (Capitol – 1969)

    John recorded this album at the same time and with the same session players as Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline”. Contains “Never Goin” Back (to Nashville)” and July, You’re a Woman.” Reached #98 in ’69. Far and away Stewart’s best solo album.

    John never took off as a solo artist, but he was one of the great songwriters. “Daydream Believer” is no doubt his most widely known song.

  81. swag says:

    Television – Marquee Moon
    Stranglers – La Folie
    Sonic Youth – Sister
    The Fall – Perverted by Language
    Ut – In Gut’s House

  82. hudson62 says:

    Not yet mentioned…

    If I Should Fall from Grace with God, The Pogues, 1987.

  83. Heretic says:

    Seems a lot of what I, and others, think of as obscure was actually a top 100 album
    in it’s day. Roger Water’s solo stuff was all great and obscure (‘which one
    was he? Pink?’) But it seems Radio KAOS made number 50 on the album charts and
    Amused to Death number 21.

    But, to add a few really poor sellers:
    Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2
    The Pretenders – Viva el Amor!
    Lou Reed – Magic and Loss

  84. swag says:

    Oh shit, some of mine are outside of the 25 year rule.

    Well, I suck.

    But those records don’t.

  85. Its_Science says:

    John Vanderslice: Cellar Door
    The Black Keys: The Big Come Up
    The Flaming Lips: Clouds Taste Metallic
    Ben Kweller: Sha Sha
    The Shins: Shutes Too Narrow

    Maybe the Shins and Flamings Lips don’t fit the spirit of the challenge, and maybe The Blacks eventually went mainstream, but I think these albums meet the criteria (unless the Shins had more commercial success than I am aware of…)

  86. Its_Science says:

    And by “the Blacks” I meant the Black Keys. This text box is not iPhone friendly… Or drunk friendly…

  87. mitchcalderwood says:

    Dinosaur Jr. – Green Mind
    Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Orange
    Mission of Burma – The Horrible Truth About Burma
    Son Volt – Trace
    James McMurtry – Too Long in the Wasteland

  88. LLouis says:

    Unknown or not well known in U.S., from Quebec:

    KARKWA – their last 2 albums: Les Chemins de verre (2010), Le Volume du vent (2008), lyrics in french à la québécois

    BEAST – only one album yet titled ‘ Beast ‘ , but what an album, Betty Bonifassi has a tremendous powerful voice, she sings in english in this group, saw them live in Montreal last december, it was amazing, maybe quite known in the States coz they were nominated for a Grammy in some smaller category

    MALAJUBE – their last 2 albums: Labyrinthes (2009), Trompe-L’Oeil (2006), also known to some in the States from the shows they performed there, quite ” dense ” music

    LES COLOCS – their first one ‘ Les Colocs ‘ (1993) and third one Dehors Novembre (1998), this group didn’t survived the tragic suicide of their leader singer Dédé Fortin

    Many other interesting rock groups from Quebec…

  89. dcsos says:

    1. A RAINBOW IN CURVED AIR – Terry Riley
    3. LAST DECADE DEAD CENTURY – Warrior Soul
    4. UNITED STATES of AMERICA – Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies
    5. YOU – Gong

    probably 30 years old but unknown masterpieces

  90. jpintahoe says:

    Representing the grungers here:

    Slint – Spiderland
    Flaming Lips – The Clouds Taste Metallic
    Swervedriver – Raise
    Pavement – Wowee Zowee
    Meat Puppets – Too High to Die

  91. dcsos says:

    the other ones, still older than 30yrs
    6. SAFE AS MILK – Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band
    7. PROJECTIONS – The Blues Project
    8. WONDERWALL MUSIC – George Harrison

    and now the eligible discs
    10. ESPERS II – Espers

  92. jpintahoe says:

    Nice background working music, selected at random from my collection:

    Morphine – Cure for Pain
    Bela Fleck and the Flecktones – UFO Tofu
    Cornershop – When I Was Born for the 7th Time
    DJ Food – Kaleidoscope
    Jamie Lidell – Jim

  93. ami_in_deutschland says:

    WAY OF THE VASELINES – The Vaselines (one of Cobain’s faves, and justifiably so)
    VU – Velvet Underground (any of the other original four albums as well)
    DOOLITTLE – Pixies (or SURFER ROSA, depending upon the mood)
    THE LA’S – The La’s (pure pop brilliance)
    PINK FLAG – Wire (older than 25 years, but is an absolute essential in any collection)

    There are tons more, but just to mention some other great artists from these decades with consistently very good to excellent albums:

    1980s (or older) + onwards: Tom Waits, The Replacements, Public Enemy, De La Soul, XTC, Jungle Brothers, Violent Femmes, The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, Throwing Muses, The Gun Club

    1990s + onwards: PJ Harvey, Spoon, Elastica, Supergrass, Sleater-Kinney, Massive Attack, Björk, Yo La Tengo, White Stripes, Beck, The Roots, Belle & Sebastian

    2000s: TV on the Radio, Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, The Decemberists, Broken Social Scene

    (Makes sense that it took a music question to finally push me over the line to actually registering after all this time — LOL)

  94. bram says:

    Robbie Robertson – Contact from the Underworld of Redboy
    Adrian Belew – Mr Music Head
    Harry Connick Jr – She
    Lila Downs – Una Sangre

  95. huxrules says:

    The number one best rock and roll album of the 90′s was Clutch – Clutch. Thats and easy one.

  96. sherman mccoy says:

    My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
    Sufjan Stevens – Come on Feel the Illinoise
    Jeff Buckley – Grace
    Radiohead – Kid A
    Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

    I am unsure whether these are well known albums in the states or not but I have a feeling they wouldn’t qualify as “popular”. They are all 5 star albums though and would make for a very enjoyable 3/4 hours.

  97. TheCenterLane says:

    The Best of The Art of Noise
    Starfish by The Church
    Wild Birds by Peter Murphy
    Violator by Depeche Mode
    Book of Love by Book of Love (for fans of The L Word)

    Best Pre-1985 Obscure Album:
    Metro Music by Martha and the Muffins (1979)

  98. asiankida says:

    not sure if these will count but…

    I consider Doves’ second album to be exceptional The Last Broadcast
    Portishead’s Dummy was never a huge seller but still amazing to listen to
    Paul van Dyk’s Out There and Back, if you consider dance music to be non-pop.
    Marianne Faithful’s Before the Poison
    Muse’s Origin of Symmetry
    Tom Waits’ Alice in case PvD isn’t your thing

  99. d says:

    1) Henry Gross – “Plug Me Into Something”
    2) Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane – “Rough Mix”
    3) Matthew Sweet – “Girlfriend”
    4) Pete Townshend – “All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes”
    5) The Del Fugos – “Boston, Mass”

  100. chartist says:

    I’m gonna add one:

    Sentimental Hygiene….Warren Zevon

    I’d like to add all of Warren’s work, Frank Zappa’s too, but it occurs before the cut-0ff date, 1985.