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. chromex says:

    1. The Three Way- Lilys.
    2. Author Unknown-Jason Faulkner
    3. The Heavy Blinkers-the Heavy Blinkers
    4. Nine Horses- Nine Horses ( David Sylvian et al also see “Brilliant Trees” by David Sylvian but falls outside the rule)
    5. Pygmalion-Slowdive

    I would include the live disc portion of “A Miller’s Tale” by Tom Verlaine as it was released within the 25 year period but not recorded then and also Tim Buckley’s “Live At the Troubador” disqualified for the same reason. “Girlfriend” may deserve inclusion but Sweet has had hits with the Thorns. Even if they didn’t sell well in the states, I think Spiritualized and MBV are a little too well known, otherwise “Loveless” and “Ladies and Gentlemen..” truly great records-would top the list

  2. David Yaseen says:

    Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock and Roll

    A truly amazing album. Pity their second effort came off terribly flat.

  3. JasRas says:

    Many of my favorites have already been listed, but there are more that are excellent albums from beginning to end. You may find many of the titles below congregating in the early 90′s period–that was my maximum exposure to music–I worked in an indy record store. Believe it or not, there was more going on than grunge and titles from Sub-Pop…

    Jellyfish-Spilt Milk –”power-pop”
    Material Issue- Destination Universe — “power pop”
    Calexico- A Feast of Wire
    Dada- Puzzle –good stuff in a Toad the Wet Sprocket sort of way
    Gene- Olympian –English whining–in a good way
    God Lives Underwater- Empty –crunchy electronic..same timeframe as early Godsmack, NIN
    The Golden Palominos- Drunk with Passion –a “super group” great stuff
    Jonatha Brooke and The Story- Plumb –one of the chic singers trying to get traction against many others
    Lindsey Buckingham- Out of the Cradle –legend guitarist, legendary ego, great album
    Liz Phair-Whip Smart –angry chic, perhaps too blunt
    Peter Murphy- Holy Smoke — solo effort from the King of Goth
    Poi Dog Pondering- Volo Volo — fantastic band, never took off except in Chicago (where they moved to)
    Rufus Wainwright- Poses –strange, wonderful with a family pedigree
    She Wants Revenge- S/T — if you like Interpol, Wire, etc. you’ll like this
    Sugar- Copper Blue – Bob Mould project. Awesome
    Super Furry Animals- Zoom — very cool English group
    The The- Infected –don’t know what to say about this… perhaps recorded a decade too early
    Todd Snider- Songs for the Daily Planet — favorite pot smoking folky, alt country dude
    Wilco- A.M. Where the Truth was first revealed about who was the brains behind Uncle Tupelo..

    Ok, it’s not five, but my five favorite were already listed. These are all worthy to find and play.

  4. Christopher says:

    dcsos Says:
    August 1st, 2010 at 5:48 am

    RY COODER was the Guitarist on Safe as Milk by the Captain……, Barry

    Indeed….Here’s a great video of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, with Ry Cooder, on the beach at Cannes…..


  5. dyrwolf says:

    Can’t go wrong with any of Dick’s Picks. Good old Grateful Dead


    Pick any ’77 for a look at what you missed. (all released after 1985)

    Pick 73-74 for Jazz oriented

    Pick 90-91 to hear Hornsby reinvigorate the old tunes.

    Someone else posted a pretty weak Phish album. Try these instead.

    Hampton Comes Alive


    NYE 1995


    12/7/87 Dayton (still can’t believe I survived that onslaught).


    Finally, the new GD DVD, Crimson, White and Indigo, is superb. If you have never seen Garcia play, you need to. Sure, some find the noodling mindless, but he was a master, and 89 was a good year. This was the last event at Philly JFK before demolition, and the sight of the full stadium watching a band just play their music, without lasers and lights and eleborate staging is something not seen anymore.


    See you at the Greek next week!

  6. bear_in_mind says:

    This list stretches the genre a bit, but suspect that’s sorta what you were after:

    Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog (1991)
    A one-off project by former members of Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, and soon-to-be, Pearl Jam.

    Billy Pilgrim – Bloom (1995)
    Folk-rock project out of Eddie’s Attic in Decataur, GA, served as a springboard for Kristian Bush who would later join the hugely popular country-pop band, Sugarland.

    Eva Cassidy – Live at Blues Alley (1997)
    Was a complete sleeper for years until figure skater, Sarah Hughes, skated for the Olympic gold medal to “Fields of Gold” in the 2002 Winter Olympics. First heard her version of “Fields” on a trip to Boston in 1998. About halfway through the song, I was looking for a freeway exit to hunt down that album.

    Blue Oyster Cult – Mirrors (1979)
    Sure, had the minor hit “Dr. Music” on it, but was largely overlooked and has some great tracks (esp. “The Vigil”) for those fortunate enough to have a quadraphonic sound system.

    Eddie Money – Life for the Taking (1978)
    Great adaptation of blue-eyed soul with a certain gritty, rock edge. Title track is still a fave.

    George Cole Quintet – Samois Faire / The Hot Club (2007)
    If you’re a fan of Django Reinhardt-inspired Gypsy jazz, this group is worth chasing down. They’re from the SF Bay Area on some small labels which you can buy direct online. They have a new line-up and album in the works for which I’d keep an ear peeled… his lead singer/chantreuse, Molly Mahoney, has walked the boards on Broadway and can absolutely belt it out lick for lick with George’s frenetic guitar work. Fun stuff.


  7. Don says:

    They keep coming to me!
    Marah – Kids in Philly. AWESOME
    It’s Only Money Tyrone and Round Eyed Blues are stand out great Rock and Roll.


    This band got me excited about music again.

    UKARLEWITZ – I have almost all of your picks – YOU WILL LOVE MARAH.

  8. bulfinch says:

    Okay, I went double the five album limit, but hey…TEN was tough! Here are some albums that were truly robbed of the heaps of adulation they so clearly deserved:

    Richard Davies — There’s Never Been a Crowd Like This
    Television Personalities — Painted Word
    The Jazz Butcher — Sex & Travel
    Orange Juice — You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever (1982…but again…hey)
    XTC — The Big Express (technically, 1984, but hey…)
    Dukes of Stratosphere — both albums
    The Clean — Unknown Country
    Go Betweens — Before Hollywood
    Th’ Faith Healers — Lido
    The Wedding Present — Bizarro

    …Someone’s already mentioned Prefab Sprout’s Two Wheels Good.

  9. ukarlewitz says:

    Don: I know Marah as well.

    I can also second Buckingham’s Out of the Cradle and Prefab Spout’s Two Wheels Good.

    Good luck making a list of just 5!

  10. laturb says:

    Working my way through this incredible list of music will take aeons, but worth it.

    Keeping to the spirit of the ‘project’, Rock n Roll et al, obscure, and outstanding I would dare to suggest as an opening five…and in no particular order:

    Tracy Bonham: “The Burden Of Being Upright’ (1996), Billboard 54

    Lene Marlin: ‘Playing My Game’ (1999), did not chart in US

    Nouvelle Vague: ‘Nouvelle Vague’ (2004), did not chart in US

    Cardigans: ‘Gran Turismo’ (1998), Billboard 151

    Richard Thompson: ‘Rumour & Sigh’ (1991), Billboard?

    I’m unsure as to the above’s ‘obscure’ quotient but hope that the links promote discussion/opinion and maybe a eureka moment for one or two readers.

    Now, if you throw open the request to the 60s & 70s that’ll take us well into 2011!

    Barry, what about putting together an album of a final list based upon contributor’s responses. With the obvious talent reading your blogs you’d be spoilt for choice re. volunteers.

  11. PB says:

    One stand out for me, spiderbait (http://www.spiderbait.com.au/) , very much to the hard rock end of the spectrum but have surprised with the odd ballad or pop song. In terms of album i’d like to say the greatest hits, but that’s probably not in the spirit of the survey, so here are the top 5 in order:

    1. The flight of wally funk (2001)
    2. Ivy and the big apples (1996)
    3. Tonight Alright (2004)
    4. Grand Slam (1999)
    5. The unfinished spanish galleon of finley lake (1995)

    I’d also say that they have had some of the best album artwork as well. Their best known single is a cover of black betty, which is brilliant, but they aren’t a cover band, in their 7 album history they only did one other cover that i can identify, “run” – a song originally seen on the BBC 1970′s comic TV series the goodies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Goodies)

  12. Bob is still unemployed says:

    OK, there’s one somewhat obscure album that I think is awesome. It just bubbled to the surface on one of my playlists.

    Neck and Neck with Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler.

    The interplay between the two is most excellent.

    Unfortunately, I suspect this post is too late to mean anything….

  13. adhd says:

    Many thanks for this opportunity to present at least 5 following masterpieces: Porcupine Tree (Deadwing)‚ Riverside (Second Life Syndrome)‚ Pain of Salvation (Be), Demians (Mute) and Neal Morse (?).

  14. standard deviant says:

    Ministry-Psalm 69
    Mars Volta-De-loused in the Comatoriam
    Alter Bridge: One day remains (very goddy, but great riffs)
    Black Cow-Udder Destruction

  15. RugbyD says:

    Celldweller – Celldweller (2003), amazing multi-sub-genre solo effort
    No One – No One (2004), somehow available on amazon.co.uk
    Dream Theater – Live at Budokan (2004)
    In Flames – Colony (1999)
    Beck – Stereopathetic Soulmanure (1994), yes he’s quite popular, but this early and unknown “album” is an engrossing window into a developing music talent.

  16. Edoc says:

    Freedy Johnston – Can You Fly? (you mentioned Freedy at the outset)
    Richard Hawley – Late Night Final
    Heavenly – Le Jardin de Heavenly
    Tackle Box – On!
    Shrimp Boat – Cavale
    The Wedding Present – Seamonsters
    The Elevator Drops – People Mover (and Pop Bus)
    Spiritualized – Laser Guided Melodies

  17. HoldYourHorses says:

    Difficulty counting to 5 appears to be directly correlated with posting number.

    I can’t say these are the absolute best 5, they aren’t quite Folsom Prison quality, but they are very good.

    Black Keys : Attack & Release
    Danger Mouse : The Grey Album
    Spoon : Gimme Fiction (try any album)
    Bon Iver : For Emma For Ever Ago
    Nick Drake. all of it.

  18. Larry-ATX says:

    This being a financial blog and all, you need a screen. I propose OOP (Out of print), which is going to knock a few of mine out, but anything that was well known in its day, and has since gotten the deluxe re-reissue treatment…well, sorry Replacements. You know I love you.

    1. American Music Club/Mark Eitzel. I can think of few other bands that can match American Music Club’s despair, and dexterity, from beautiful folk moments to noise to waltz, often in the same record. And even fewer had a string of records like Engine, California, Everclear and Mercury.
    My pick: California http://www.amazon.com/California-American-Music-Club/dp/B00004VNTF
    Obscurity status: Barely in print.
    Another obsessed fan’s take: http://knol.google.com/k/tony-heywood/american-music-club-california-review/2wof1cxua853h/2#

    2. Lone Justice/Maria McKee. Mentioned by several, but apparently even Lone Justice fans skipped the first Mckee solo record, which easily trumps her Lone Justice work. The great lost country singer of our time?
    Obscurity Status: Wikipedia says her solo record hit #120 on the US Charts. Not so obscure, but definitely more overlooked than the LJ record, which hit #62
    More eloquent than me: http://80music.about.com/b/2010/05/24/this-weeks-forgotten-gem-of-the-80s-maria-mckees-cant-pull-the-wool-down-over-the-little-lambs-eyes.htm

    3. Unrest/Air Miami-Mark Robinson and Bridget Cross made 2 classics in Unrest, but this follow up is somewhat overlooked even by obscure indie pop standards. A summer pop classic.
    Air Miami, Me, Me, Me.
    Obscurity Status: There’s not even a Pitchfork review!
    A more eloquent take: http://radiofreechicago.typepad.com/reredesign/2010/04/flashback-friday-all-aboard-the-next-flight-on-air-miami.html

    4. Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey/The dB’s. The dB’s are a somewhat forgotten early 80′s new wave/rootsy band, and trying to pick one of their records is a night mare…Some shine more on their Hoboken sound, some more on their songwriting. And then there is this odd duo record the band’s founders made in ’91 or so, that somehow captured everything amazing about the 2 of them-fantastic songs, beautiful harmonies, and lovely guitar work.
    Obscurity status: Pretty damn obscure.
    Another fanboy: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-peter-holsapple-chris-stamey/

    5. Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3-Heard of the Dream Syndicate? Maybe? Did you know Steve Wynn’s solo career has long since surpassed that ground-breaking band’s music? I didn’t think so.
    Static Transmission
    Obscurity status: Google most likely will take you to the Vegas developer.
    The best band you’ve never heard: http://www.stompandstammer.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=579&Itemid=0

    Honorable mentions: Lisa Germano-Early folk-y Capital release strikes the perfect bittersweet note, before moving on to much darker material on 4AD. Out of print for years.

    David Kilgour/the Clean. Crminally underrated New Zealand pop.

    Kiko is way underloved, except apparently by music-loving Big Picture Nerds. Los Lobos are so great freakin’ Robert Plant is covering one of their songs on his current tour.

  19. dmf0201 says:

    Northstar – Pollyanna is probably the best album that no one has ever heard..

  20. mcrcr4 says:

    Big Guns-Rory Gallagher
    Live Radish Head-Little Women
    Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium-Rage Against The Machine

    Best played loud.

  21. mjoid says:

    Sloan from Nova Scotia – almost any thing is great Twice Removed, 5 nights at the Palais Royal, later stuff very poppy Pretty Together and Between the Bridges

    The Chills from New Zealand – same as above, early stuff rock later stuff pop, Submarine Bells and Soft Bomb are incredible. The song I Love my Leather Jacket is rock at its best.

    Love Jones from Louisville – more lounge than rock but still great only tow records Here’s to the Losers and Powerful Pain Relief. Drummer was from Squirrel Bait, legendary HS punk band, Sun God was their anthem to those who can remember.

    The Feelies, Minutemen, Dream Syndicate, American Music Club have already been mentioned. A very enjoyable exercise.

  22. Christopher says:

    Honky – Balls Out Inn

    Boxcar Satan – Upstanding and Indigent

    Stinking Lizaveta – Caught Between Worlds

    Los Mescaleros

    Grinderman – Grinderman (Nick Cave’s latest project)

  23. Edoc says:

    For 75 cents, you can enjoy Blackbird, a short-lived rock project of the Kinman brothers, who were better known for their leadership in Rank And File (and the west coast punk band The Dils).


    [The great Rank and File album 'Sundown' is from 1982 and does not qualify per the rules of this exercise]

  24. rafael d says:

    5 favorite unknown CDs:

    Failure – Magnified
    Failure – Fantastic Planet
    LTJ Bukem – Logical Progression
    Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary
    DJ Brian – Hardesertrance (3 part series)

  25. louis says:

    Not obscure but somewhat ignored.

    Tom Waits-Rain Dogs
    Toots and the Maytals-True love
    The Smithereens-Green Thoughts
    Richard Butler-Richard Butler
    I also agree with Sufjan Stevens above

  26. pimpinee says:

    Let It Be – The Replacements – Released in 1984 but hey it was late 1984
    Tim – The Replacements – already mentioned
    Hollywood Town Hall – The Jayhawks (1992)
    Tales of the New West – the Beat Farmers (1985)
    Frenzy – Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper – maybe a little passé but if you have any cultural relation to the 80’s – it’s still great (1986)

    Stoneage Romeos – Hoodoo Gurus – From 1984 but hey that’s close enough
    Mars Needs Guitars – Hoodoo Gurus (1985)

    Lost and Found – Jason and the Scorchers (1985)

    Most of the Girls Like to Dance but Only Some of the Boys Like to – Don Dixon – almost forgot this – believe me it’s a keeper (1985)

    A little surprised no one had mentioned the Gurus.
    Didn’t mean for so many from the 80’s but by the 90’s the music I liked was popular. Still bitter at all those alumni that made us listen to the Big Chill soundtrack until our ears bled.

  27. poppysmic says:

    Deadwing – Porcupine Tree
    In Absentia – Porcupine Tree

    The best band you’ve never heard of

  28. hdoggy says:

    Jessica6 contribured Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen, but I just say Echo and the Bunnymen. Lips Like Sugar is one of Coldplay’s best covers out and everyone know the song. They’re John Hughes, REM, Tears for Fears, the 80′s most forgotten band, any way you look at it.

    Space Wrangler by Widespread Panic deserves mention. It’s not unknown, but it was never top 40. You can add any Phish album if you want to to this genre.

    Third would be Les Claypool’s self titled album. He’s still going, wrote the south park them song and Les is just nasty.

  29. kansascitypothole says:

    Besides those not mentioned…

    Silver Jews – American Water
    My Morning Jacket – At Dawn
    V-Roys – Just Add Ice

    Not rock, but worthy…

    Gillian Welch – time (the relevator)
    Morcheeba – Big Calm
    Jonathan Richman – Not so much to be loved as to love / Having a Party with Jonathan Richman

    Best book about an unknown rock band “The Cheese Chronicles” (about the band Government Cheese)

  30. tantrum says:

    Fun topic — love seeing bands I don’t know and people loving those I do! Jayhawks, Jason & The Scorchers and Hoodoo Gurus getting shout-outs — awesome (BTW – any Hoodoo fans should check out their latest, PURITY OF ESSENCE. The lead track, CRACKIN’ UP is one of the best things they’ve done since MARS NEEDS GUITARS).

    Background: 1st gen MTV watcher, former Sunset Strip club DJ — listen to everything (and I mean everything) but fondest of thick-layered guitar RAWK and that is what I will list (also, with the exception of one CD which charted at #78 on Billboard, I am being anal about the requirements: no charting, no hit singles, and something that I could put on and play start-to-finish in one of my clubs and not have the kids revolt).

    1. EARTH VS. THE WILDHEARTS – The Wildhearts. Lead singer Ginger is the best rock songwriter in the last twenty years, easy. Great hooks, tons of melodies. Drugs de-railed the WHs the first, second and third times around but they’ve had some good touring years recently and Ginger is now in an amazing all-star band with Michael Monroe (HANOI ROCKS) also called MICHAEL MONROE.

    2. THROUGH THE DARKNESS – D Generation. With Jesse Malin on vocals now getting Todd Youth (MURPHY’S LAW, DANZIG) on guitar, this was the final and – imo – best D Gen CD. Band was touted as “the next big thing” but could never get enough traction. Lead single, HELPESS, appeared on the soundtrack for the teen horror/sci-fi film THE FACULTY but that didn’t help since only me and John Stewart’s mom saw that movie in theaters.

    (People should also check out Todd’s most recent band, The Chelsea Smiles, for more great 50s-meets-70s guitar rock. Great band.)

    3. BUCKCHERRY – Buckcherry. This charted at #78 on Billboard, but f*** it. This CD is GREAT — every track goes to “11″ and demands you jump around, get sweaty and make out with someone. The band has gotten bigger since (and, technically/musically, better) but has never been more raw or more fun than here. 1986 all over again. Best work Steve Jones did between the Sex Pistols and his 103.1 radio show.

    4. GLOW – Reef. Reef was selling out stadiums in the UK the same summer in the mid/late 90s when they played The Whisky on the Strip. Talk about a disconnect. When Brit Pop was full offsoft-peddling mods like Pulp and Blur chasing Oasis’ tail, Reef grabbed guitars and piano and channeled the Faces and Stones. Gary Stringer has some of the best pipes since Terry Reid. Great band, great album.

    5. TSAR – Tsar. Maybe now that they’ve reformed, Tsar will reach the heights they should have, but I doubt it. Hamstrung by a production budget on their debut rumored to be over $1.5 million, Tsar never got the push from the already-floundering Hollywood Records that they might have in another time. Merging the power-pop rock of Cheap Trick with the easy glam of T.Rex, Tsar is another fine “shoulda been a contender”.

    I hope someone reaching this post takes the time to check out these bands. If, like me, you grew up watching MTV when they played videos and miss the days of guitar pop and rock, I think you’ll really like these.

    A few bonus rounds (can’t resist — once you get me going…):

    – concur with some others on the bands I mentioned in the opening, as well as My Bloody Valentine, Black Rebel Motorcylcle Club and the Verve (though URBAN HYMNS did make the top 25 on Billboard)

    – THE METHOD TO OUR MADNESS – Lords Of The New Church. Punk superband with Stiv Bators (DEAD BOYS), Brian James (THE DAMNED), Dave Tragunna (SHAM 69) and Nicky Turner (BARRACUDAS), this disc came out in ’84, before our cut-off, but is still a must-listen. Dark, evil sound and lyrics — if your kids like MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, out-goth them with this one.

    – DANZIG – Danzig. Rick Rubin produced, ignore (or don’t) Glenn’s “Satanic Elvis” schtick and enjoy one of the angriest, dirtiest sounding blues-rock records ever made.

    – HURRICANE #1 – Hurricane #1 — a more traditional Brit pop band, but Alex Lowe’s voice is amazing. Also featured Andy Bell (RIDE, OASIS) on guitar.

    – THE SEA HAGS – The Sea Hags. The best hair-metal record of the 1980s, bar none. Band managed to record it and release it just in time for the Grunge Bomb to hit and for heroin to decimate the band in one fell swoop.

    Had fun gang!

  31. rchristmann says:

    The Mekons “Rock n Roll” and “Fear and Whiskey”
    The Fibonaccis “Civilization and its Discotheques”
    Latin Playboys “Latin Playboys”

  32. tonyk says:

    Good lists. Here is my top 5:

    5. Motion City Soundtrack – I Am the Movie
    4. Neutral Milk Hotel Hotel – In the Airplane Over the Sea
    3. Mineral – EndSerenading
    2. The Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen
    1. Pedro the Lion – Control

    If you haven’t heard of Pedro the Lion go download Control now. The whole album is a story involving materialism, vanity, adultery, etc. “Penetration” and “Magazine” are two of the best rock songs ever written, IMO.

  33. Edoc says:

    Pere Ubu – Cloudland (and Worlds in Collision)
    The Opposition – Empire Days
    The Sound – From the Lion’s Mouth (or Shock of Daylight / Heads and Hearts)
    Game Theory – Lolita Nation
    Minimal Compact – One By One

  34. tcolemanuf says:

    BR – Apparently we travel in the same circles music-wise. Things that may have been big to us like The Magic Numbers did not really hit the main stream. As for the others on the list I usually caught them up in Boston over the Oughts, ’03-’08. Robert Randolph put on the best performance I saw live. Ray was really good doing a solo set at the Orpheum and the Black Keys brought down the house at the Avalon (now the House of Blues.) I would concede that Ray and The Black Keys have hit the main stream now but there was a before.

    Maybe it’s more of an argument of when you caught them. The Black Keys just played Central Park and it was jam packed on the 27th, but when I saw them in Boston after they released ThickFreakness (which is what I meant in my original post) a lot of the hipsters at the venue just came to hear a rock concert and were just presently surprised that two guys alone could kick it. Same thing with Dispatch, just kind of an unknown jam band when they released their albums in the late 90′s and very early 2000s, but when they did their free farewell concert in 2004, they expected about 20-30K Boston area undergrads to show up and then an estimated 110,000 people did.

    Finally, I kind of used the “gold” standard. Did they sell 500k albums of that particular disc? If they did not, I equated that to being “unknown.” I look forward to your list on Friday.

  35. I mean really unknown — that Magic Numbers disc sold 44,000 copies!

  36. MikeDiehl says:

    Three of these charted, but none terribly high. Hence the list of eight, five of which did not chart. (The others are, I’ll posit, fairly obscure, but I don’t have access to sales data — that I know of.)

    Terrell: On the Wings of Dirty Angels (1990) – [ did not chart ]

    Rob Dougan: Furious Angels (2001) – [ 16 / Billboard Dance/Electronic ]

    Boozoo Bajou: Dust My Broom (2005) – [ did not chart ]

    Primal Scream: Screamadelica (1991) – [ did not chart ]

    Scott Weiland: 12 Bar Blues (1998) – [ 42 / Billboard 200 ]

    The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003) – [ 39 / Billboard 200 ]

    Stress: Stress (1991) – [ did not chart ]

    Pere Ubu: Worlds in Collision (1991) – [ did not chart ]

  37. stezzinator says:

    Three come to mind.

    Rialto had an eponymous album in the late 90′s that did well in England, but didn’t stick here. They sound kind of like pre-psychedelic Beatles, except depressed. More hooks than a long-line trawler, and the lyrics drip with articulate self-hatred.

    Metal is a good source of obscure greats, since the genre and bands don’t go away, they just go underground. God Forbid’s “Gone Forever” (2004) never got into the Billboard Top 200. Too bad. Bleak and thrashy, these are Jerseyites who do more than GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry).

    Trivium did chart on Billboard, for two weeks (peaked at 25 in 2006). They actually sing, a comparative rarity in the genre. Neck-snapping riffage and socially conscious lyrics round out the mis. Think of them as what Metallica could have been.

  38. Don says:

    Did I miss the top 5 final list posting (supposed to be last Friday?)?

  39. [...] weeks ago, I asked a simple question: What are the 5 best unknown, unheard Rock albums [...]

  40. Init4good says:

    I need to add a very late entry:

    Bevis Frond – What Did for the Dinosaurs (2002).


    Hit Squad by same

    On his 14th album (not including compilations) in 18 years, Nick Saloman finds himself reassessing his career as one of the British psychedelic underground’s key figures,as both the leader and sole constant member of the Bevis Frond and as the publisher of the pioneering fanzine Ptolemaic Terrascope. WHAT DID FOR THE DINOSAURS is one of his most overtly autobiographical albums. In particular, the sardonic but ultimately defiant title track is Saloman’s grudging acceptance of his role as a musical throwback, set to one of his catchiest tunes. Other highlights include the album’s 14-minute closing track, “Dustbins in the Rain,” a vintage extended guitar jam of the type that often decorated the Bevis Frond’s early albums, and the attitude-heavy “Good Enough For You.”


  41. potatokmish says:

    O Positive-Only Breathing/Cloud Factory. Listening to this right now in my car. Great Boston band from mid to late 80′s. Still sounds fresh.

    Stompbox-Stress. Another Boston band. Released 1 album,and 1 EP. Hits hard. Like Helmet meets Soundgarden. Band broke up, but this masterpiece remains.

    Morphine-Cure for Pain. Yet another Boston band. Use of saxophone, low rock sound yet to be duplicated.

    The Chameleons-Strange Times. All 3 of the Chameleons albums could be on this list, but the epic Strange Times released in 1986 falls within the last 25 years. Swirling guitars of Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding, and the lyrics of Mark Burgess are incredible. Most unsung band of the 80′s

    Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers-Coming Home. The ultimate bar band from the ultimate shot and beer town, Pittsburgh. The former frontman of the Iron City Houserockers made a strong comeback with this 1988 release Rock and Real, however I selected the 1998 album Coming Home. The closer “Innocence is Beautiful” is the greatest song about fatherhood ever penned. Bruce Springsteen never sounded so good.

  42. ecwchina says:

    great list, got more enjoyment from this than any other before.

    two thumbs up for the Fury in the Slaughterhouse album Mono, though I liked The Hearing and Sence of Balance more with tunes like Kiss the Judas, Hang the DJ, Radio Orchid, Every Generation Has Its Own Disease…….

    nobody mentioned the Sponge abum Rotting Pinata, not a bad tune on it

    Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson a haunting album end to end

    Concrete Blonde – Concrete Blonde was a great disc if only for the tune ‘Dance Along the Edge’

    The Darkness – Permission to Land , seems impossible nobody mentioned it, like them or not, it rocks big time

    honourable mention to Dismemberment Plan – ‘Is Terrified’, Fiction Plane – “Everything Will Never Be OK”, Incubus is certainly a respectable band with “Fungus Amongus”, Spacehog – “Resident Alien”, Steve Earle – “Guitar Town”, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – “Shake the Sheets”, Thomas Dolby – “The Aliens Ate My Buick”, best comeback album Tina Turner – “Private Dancer”, World Party – “Goodbye Jumbo”

    be great to see more comments, huge FUN