Ponder This on a Sunday: Who Is Rock’s Most Underrated Band?

Who? Exactly. Scroll down to see why I picked this guy as the most underrated of all time.That’s a question that’s potentially loaded with a lot of subjectivity, but try and separate yourself from any and all personal tastes.  

Think about all the rock bands that ever existed.  Which among them did the best work and had the most influence but remain criminally underrated and underappreciated when you consider the history of rock as a whole?

Here are some possible contenders:

1.  Big Star, Alex Chilton’s Memphis-based power pop band that was making today’s style of indie rock in 1972.


2.  Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers come from that same era.  Their sound was hugely influential on some of the proto punks of the early 70s and tracks like this still sound fresh today.


3.  The Dictators.  The were punk before punk had a name.  In fact, the very word “punk” is derived from their ne’er-do-well leather jacketed image see on their Go Girl Crazy album of 1974.


4.  Anglophiles could vote for the Small Faces.  Before Rod Stewart joined and they morphed into just The Faces, they carved an impressive space for themselves in British pop.


5. Speaking of Britain, you can make a very, very strong case for the Kinks.  Here’s an article explaining why they were so important and why they should get more respect.


6.  Canadians will know what I mean when I suggest the Tragically Hip.  Why doesn’t the rest of the world get what Canada has known for decades?


7.  Maybe we should rethink Blue Cheer.  Their sludgey blues-based rock came of age around the same time as Led Zeppelin and predated Sabbath by a couple of years.


8. Mudhoney.  Look ’em up.  Grunge fans know they should be in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.


9.  What about the Zombies?  They wrote some great melodies and Rod Argent went on to form Argent, another fine band. 


10. But my pick?  Any band ever led by Long John Baldry.  Alumni include Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Elton John, Rod Stewart, keyboardist extrodionaire Brian Auger, singer Julie Driscoll and many others. Hell, the reason Reginald Dwight chose the last name “John” was to honour Baldry.  He never has received the deserved accolades for his roll in rock history.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

10 thoughts on “Ponder This on a Sunday: Who Is Rock’s Most Underrated Band?

  • January 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I agree with the Hip.

    Also I don't get how Kasabian is so big in UK and no one knows what I'm talking about over here.

    Oh well more Kasabian for me.

  • January 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    How many bands are like the Hip in their own part of the world and haven't made an impression in ours? An example (perhaps) are Manic Street Preachers in the UK.

  • January 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Flashback alert.

    December 1980 when the late Long John Baldry. hosted the candlelight vigil for the late John Lennon @ Nathan Phillips Square. Long John was wearing the biggest fur coat that I have ever seen.

  • January 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I'd say Can. They made music not geared towards the mainstream, but if you dig, some of their stuff is on par with some of the greatest, most musically talented bands ever. Another is Jellyfish from the early 90s, short-lived but highly influential pop group. Another is The Association from the 60s, sort of like a baroque-Beach Boys. They had chart success, but sort of dropped off the radar. Some of their harmonies and pop-hooks are off-the-scale.

  • January 21, 2013 at 12:45 am

    CLUTCH. Clutch is the most underrated band hands down. Ever.

  • January 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Two bands come to mind: Alex Chilton is mentioned but how about the Replacements, the band that actually wrote a song named Alex Chilton? They have influenced many acts with their raw short-song rock sound.

    Your Blue Cheer mention made me also think of CACTUS with rock drummer Carmine Appice that was formed in 1969. Zeppelin fans will love the loud blues rock vibe that this band had.

  • January 21, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I think the reason The Hip aren't big anywhere else is because they're just a painfully average bar band that drops enough Canadian references in their songs to trick Canadians into thinking they're better than they are. It's true that Sloan, Blue Rodeo and others are also not big outside of Canada but they do have cult followings in other countries. The Hip don't even have that. I don't think that this is a coincidence. Every bar on Earth has a band that sounds like The Hip. Boring.

  • January 21, 2013 at 2:58 am

    The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. He had great stage presence and the band behind him was tight.

    Captain Beyond, a super group who only put out a few albums, sort of Skynyrd-ish with a dash of King Crimson.

    Max Webster before they went all power pop and sang about patios and going for sodas.

    The Hip were decent up to and including Day for Night. Since then its all been downhill.

  • February 14, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Maybe not quite up there with many of the aforementioned, but I'd put Therapy? on such a list. At least with respect to North America. Not sure how they fair across the pond, besides in Ireland.

  • February 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    BobbyB, you have summed up the Hip perfectly.

    I'm putting Faith No More out there. Hard rock/metal in the 90s would have been in a totally different place if FNM hadn't pioneered the whole rap/rock thing. FNM's mix of styles influenced an entire generation of music,although some may say that might have been a bad thing. Definitely changed my way of looking at hard rock, even though I never went "nu-metal."


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