A snare hit, thumping bass, a beautiful melody that cuts through your ear and infects your heart. We’ve all said the next three words before:“Who is that?”
The artists outlined in this series are a handful of artist that tend to fly a little bit below the radar. Some of these you will know, some you won’t–but you should get to know them all a little bit better.
15. Nico: Best known for being a drug-addled chanteuse, that should not repel anybody from the fact that she sang (a term I use loosely) some really beautiful songs. Listen to “These Days” off of the late 60’s album “Chelsea Girls.” With song contributions from a teenage Jackson Browne and a love-smitten Bob Dylan, the album evokes a warmth and elegance unmatched by many that followed.
14. Syd Barrett: Almost every music fan knows about Pink Floyd. And some of you may even know the leader of the group’s early years. But Syd Barrett is most remarkable to me as a damaged but brilliant (and brief) solo artist. He released two albums in 1970, “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barrett.” They were sparse, some say incomplete, but listen to “Terrapin” (off of the more superior “Madcap” album) and nothing exudes psychedelia better. Everyone from Bowie to Ray Davies cites Syd as essential, and for good reason.
13. The Velvet Underground: Words cannot describe the first time I heard “Pale Blue Eyes,” or “Sweet Jane.” These songs and this group are classic. From their artsy, pop minimalist of 1967’s “Velvet Underground and Nico,” (with the famed “Banana” album cover from Andy Warhol) to the FM-friendly country rock of 1970’s “Loaded,” they really do not disappoint. However, I would steer clear of anything released during the 1990’s reunion. The Velvet Underground is the greatest American Rock and Roll group America never knew they had, period.
12. The Meters: An ultra-funky group led by Art Nellville of The Nellville Brothers. Since their inception in the 60’s, The Meters have laid down the funk like no other. Listen to “Cissy Strut” and you’ll know. Although their songs are largely instrumental, that should not stop anybody from checking them out.
11. The Dictators: Having released arguably the First “New York Punk Album” (1974’s “Go Girl Crazy”), The Dictators exude a more lucid Twisted Sister and Quite Riot than an artsy Television. True, they were abnormal in their time, but now we can look back and appreciate how truly honest they were. They sometimes came off childish (“I Live for Cars and Girls”) or invasive (“Two Tub Man”) but it was all in good fun. And you can’t deny that the music was catchy!
10. The Cramps: Formed by Lux Interior (obvious stage name) in the late 70’s, The Cramps recorded some of the most vibrant rock and roll of the century. Think hillbilly, swamp, punk, boogie (all compliments). If it weren’t for front man Lux’s tragic death in February of 2009, they would still be playing somewhere in the country, pleasing all fans, from punk to rockabilly.
Those are the first six! There are still nine to go, so check back with us. Some of these might not be for everyone, but there is bound to be one just right for you.Tags:50's & 60's Hits