1970-1979 Hard ‘n’ Heavy ‘n’ Loud + Krautrock, Arty, Noisy, Weird, Funky, Punky Albums

Flower Travellin' Band – Satori (Atlantic/Phoenix, 1971)I’m revisiting a few albums to promote the 1970-1979 WTF – The Hard ‘n’ Heavy ‘n’ Loud + Krautrock, Arty, Noisy, Weird, Funky, Punky Shit – Albums Poll! – Closes Mar 8th 11.59 PM UK Time – All ILXORS/LURKERS WELCOME. Most Fast ‘n’ Bulbous readers aren’t even lurkers, but you’re welcome to join and participate. The first post in the thread explains that your ballot can be 20 to 100 albums, with a limit of 3 albums per artist unless you post a full 100 album ballot. Entries are copied and pasted from this spreadsheet into  the voting form. Below are a few albums I feel have historically slipped under the radar that deserve consideration for the poll. These are just a tiny sample of what will make up my 100 album ballot. For more, see Funkadelic: The Afro-Alien Diaspora, Kosmische, and Between The Cracks: Great bands that slipped between the cracks of glam, prog, art rock, metal and punk, 1973-1978

Flower Travellin’ Band – Satori (Atlantic/Phoenix, 1971)
Flower Travellin' Band – Satori (Atlantic/Phoenix, 1971) As with Krautrocksampler Julian Cope once again was the first to introduce me to some long-neglected albums with Japrocksampler: How the Post-War Japanese Blew Their Minds on Rock ‘n’ Roll (2007). Satori was tied with Eve (1971) by Speed, Glue & Shinki as the greatest Japanese rock album of all time. I’m definitely on board with Flower Travellin’ Band, whose iconic cover from their debut Anywhere (1970) is featured on the cover of Cope’s book. Cope described Satori as their “most singular and demented work, coming over like some super-fit combination of Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Immigrant Song’ and the Yardbirds’ ‘Happenings Ten Years Time Ago’ as played by a non-blues guitarist such as Michael Schenker, or perhaps Uli John Roth’s power trio Electric Sun.” While I would categorize Satori as proto-metal, the song structures are so far out and guitarist Hideki Ishima’s playing is so original that the album resembles nothing else. It seems only recently that contemporary bands from Japan, Sweden and the U.S. have begun tapping into Flower Travellin’ Band as an influence.

Richard Hell & the Voidoids – Blank Generation (Sire, 1977)
Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Blank Generation (Sire, 1977)Possibly the only album from the core CBGB’s scene that’s underrated. It didn’t make either ILM 70s polls, nor Pitchfork’s, Rolling Stone, was only 663 among RYM’s 70′s albums. It did fare better on Acclaimed music at 170 of 70′s, 540 overall. But it’s one of my top 100 all-time favorite albums. In the Please Kill Me oral history, many claimed Television was at their best before Richard Hell left. There is something to be said for creative tension, but usually I think it was for the best, as Marquee Moon is perfect to my ears. It made sense when Hell went on to join the sloppy Heartbreakers. It seemed ironic to me that when Hell formed the Voidoids with two guitarists – Robert Quine and Ivan Julian, Blank Generation ended up sounding like a kind of companion album to Television’s. Obviously Quine’s brilliant style, while as virtuosic as Verlaine, was also more angular and spastic, a little more influence from Beefheart’s Magic Band. And while Hell’s original poetic inspirations and aspirations were similar to Verlaine’s, his lyrics are much more witty and crass, his vocal delivery a hundred times more unhinged. It’s enough to make one wonder what it would have been like if Hell stayed in Television, but to hear old songs like “Love Comes In Spurts” and “Blank Generation,” (which, from what I heard from old Television demos and bootlegs still needed some work) it’s enough to hear them finally hatched by Hell and the Voidoids in their final, perfect incarnations. It blows my mind that some thought Blank Generation was a disappointment at the time. Possibly because those in the scene were jaded after hearing many of the songs for years, thinking the album was a year or two late to arrive, with Hell and the band already starting to fall apart due to the usual drug-related b.s. But from where I stand I can’t imagine changing anything that could improve it.

Guru Guru – Känguru (Brain/Universal, 1972)
Guru Guru - Känguru (Brain/Universal, 1972)Guru Guru are kind of the Spinal Tap of the German avant rock scene, with the aptly named Ax Genrich peeling off gonzoid slabs of guitar madness inspired by Hendrix and Blue Cheer, but also anticipating the likes of Chrome and MX-80 Sound with flashes of brilliance that sounds positively post-punk. Their first and fourth albums, UFO (1970) and Guru Guru (1973) are often cited as their best. They’re wrong. Their third album Känguru reflects bandleader and drummer Mani Neumeier’s peak. Learning from his friends Conny Plank and Hans-Joachim Roedelius of Cluster/Harmonia, it’s also their best sounding album. Try Hinten (1971) next. (#157)

Stray – Stray (Transatlantic/Castle, 1970)
Stray - Stray (Transatlantic/Castle, 1970)Signed to a contract way back in 1966 as young teenagers on the strength of precocious musical talent rivaling Free, Stray have plenty of experience with mod and psychedelia.  On their debut album, they nod to their past with the rocking ”Only What You Make It” and the psychedelic pop of ”Around The World In Eighty Days.”  But it’s the sprawling proto-metal of the 9:23 opener “All In Your Mind” that prompted Pentagram to cite them as an influence. Iron Maiden would later record that song as a B-side. The band is tight and cohesive despite exploring additional genres like prog, jazz fusion and Hawkwind-like space rock. Some of their more driving moments even remind me of some early MC5, but more musically diverse and complex. The 2006 reissues of this and Saturday Morning Pictures (1972) are widely available, but for some reason Suicide is hard to find. The closing title-track features some scorching Del Bromham guitar solos resembling Sir Lord Baltimore.

T2 – It’ll All Work Out In Boomland (Decca/Lion, 1970)
T2 - It'll All Work Out In Boomland (Decca/Lion, 1970)It’s amazing that a band the caliber of T2 can disappear from public consciousness for so long. They weren’t even a footnote in any rock histories I’ve seen, until Acme and Lion teamed up in 2009 to reissue T2′s brilliant debut. The band held their own on every major stage in England with the likes of King Crimson, Deep Purple and Free, and swanned amongst the gods, such as Hendrix and Lennon.  I used to think I’d want to time travel back to London in 1964 when one could still catch bands like the Stones, The Who and The Kinks in small clubs. But despite the commonly held belief that 60s rock culture was in decline in 1970, the truth was that it was exploding with creativity (as evidenced also by the likes of Stray and Lucifer’s Friend. I’d be hard pressed to choose between 1970 and 1979 to witness first-hand my favorites in rock and post-punk. Before lines were drawn between progressive, metal, art rock, glam and punk, bands like T2 encompassed elements of psychedelia, heavy blues and prog, with wonderfully hard rocking results. “In Circles” sounds like the kind of driving psychedelia with a touch of jazz that Jimi was starting to strive for. Album highlight “No More White Horses” is the perfect fusion of white-hot guitar leads and beautiful use of horn melodies, nailing a stronger emotional impact that most of their progressive peers. No less impressive is the epic 21:18 “Morning” that amazingly ends before you’re ready. Chances are T2 will become an all-time favorite of many who hear them, and should be sure to check out Acme/Lion’s reissue of the demos T2 recorded in 1970 for their next album. Unfortunately they broke up before the follow-up could be finished, but it’s well worth hearing.

Lucifer’s Friend – Lucifer’s Friend (Philips, 1970)
Lucifer's Friend - Lucifer's Friend (Philips, 1970)Lucifer’s Friend are a German band with Brit singer John Lawton, who’s impressive wail initially elevated them over fellow keyboard-heavy proto-metallers Atomic Rooster and Uriah Heep. The amazing “Ride The Sky” features an elephant-like french horn melody that controversially was compared to Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song.” However this was released first, so as usual Zep are most likely the plagiarists. Sabbath and Deep Purple are clear influences, but it could be argued that Lucifer’s Friend may have influenced Purple’s evolution on Machine Head. Vertigo signed the band on the strength of their debut, but their sound would evolve radically into more progressive and lush sounds on subsequent albums. The Groupies Killed The Blues (1972), I’m Just A Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer (1973) and Banquet (1974) are interesting in that they are as diverse and unpredictable as Man’s records from that same era.

Thin Lizzy – Black Rose: A Rock Legend (Mercury/Vertigo, 1979)
Thin Lizzy - Black Rose: A Rock Legend (Mercury/Vertigo, 1979)My order of favorites changes every year. For a while Vagabonds of the Western World (Deram, 1973) was in my top three on the strength of “The Rocker,” “Mama Nature Said” and “Little Girl In Bloom.” Recently Bad Reputation (1977) overtook Jailbreak (1976) for the #2 spot, but Black Rose has remained my #1.  Like a lot of people, I had written off Thin Lizzy for a long time, because “The Boys Are Back In Town” was one of the most annoying, overplayed songs of the 70s. Knowing that “Jailbreak” was a great song wasn’t quite enough to overcome the prejudice that Thin Lizzy were no better than Foghat, Grand Funk Railroad and Black Oak Arkansas (who all had a decent song or two, but were distinctly uncool). Old metal faves Iron Maiden cited Thin Lizzy as an influence on their twin guitar sound, but I didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until the early 90s, when Urge Overkill (Saturation definitely had a nice Thin Lizzy flavor) and Billy Corgan (unfortunately none of Phil Lynott’s soulful charm rubbed off on him) were preaching the greatness of Thin Lizzy. I picked up a cheap vinyl copy of Jailbreak and agreed that it was indeed a classic. Yet it didn’t occur to me for several more years that they might have other great albums. Interestingly, Phil Lynott also haunted the backdrop of the history of punk. In reading interviews and oral histories, Lynott could be found lurking amongst punkers, metalheads and new wavers, inelegantly wasted. There must have been something to his music that would cause such a wide array of countercultural types to respect him.

So I picked up Fighting, Johnny The Fox and Bad Reputation, and realized they’re all great. Thin Lizzy had it all—Dylan’s lyricism, Van Morrison’s Celtic, mystical soul, Springsteen’s working class romanticism and storytelling, Led Zeppelin’s pomp and grandeur, and even Judas Priest’s (via Wishbone Ash’s) ass-kicking twin-guitar attack. The last album I picked up was Black Rose: A Rock Legend, and it became my favorite, with a great one-two kick off in “Do Anything You Want To” and “Toughest Street In Town.” More great storytelling and guitar solos throughout, it’s at least as consistent as Jailbreak. With Tony Visconti producing, it’s also their best sounding album. The only tune I don’t like is “My Sarah,” written for his daughter. I also found that their debut album was full of promise, range, and great guitars. And while their 80s work was not the same as the classic run of Lizzy albums, since they were influenced a bit by their NWOBHM progeny, and Lynott’s drug use was getting out of control, they also were quite good. Chinatown was probably the biggest letdown at the time coming off of the amazing Black Rose, but even it has good things to offer, at least in the first half. In his book The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal Volume 2: The Eighties, Martin Popoff rated Renegade the fifth best album of that decade. Now that’s just crazy talk. It’s pretty great, but Thunder And Lightning is better. It’s as if Lynott knew his days were numbered and he had to go out with a bang.

Wishbone Ash – Argus (MCA, 1972)
Wishbone Ash - Argus (MCA, 1972)Starting out with basic heavy blues and boogie rock on their self-titled debut Wishbone Ash (MCA, 1970), they incorporated more elements of prog and jazz on Pilgrimage (MCA, 1971), which yielded the classic “Jail Bait,” but overall felt a little subdued and suffered from their lack of strong vocals from bassist/vocalist Martin Turner. On Argus, they consolidated their strengths into some extended compositions that focused on their brilliantly groundbreaking twin lead guitar interplay that would soon influence Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy and later Iron Maiden. The genius Hipgnosis designed cover reflected on some of
The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Rock (Third Edition, 1982)their medieval lyrical themes, and was prominently featured in my 1982 edition of the Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock. I wondered if they modeled Darth Vader’s helmet from that. I only heard the album for the first time less than 10 years ago, and loved it. Allmusic Guide wrote, “The release of 1973′s Wishbone Four reflected a greater maturity to the group, and was their first fully developed album, with songwriting that didn’t hide behind a progressive pose but luxuriated in the members’ folk music inclinations, without compromising the harder edge of their music.” I only wish that were the case, as it would be amazing if they could have surpassed Argus, but it wasn’t so. The second best summary of what made Wishbone Ash special is the Live Dates (MCA, 1973) double album. I’ve read that There’s The Rub (1974) is also really good, but I haven’t tracked it down yet.

The Ruts – The Crack (Virgin, 1979)
The Ruts - The Crack (Virgin, 1979)Along with Stiff Little Fingers, The Ruts were the best of the second wave punk bands to put out debut albums in ’79. It’s hard to know if they would have become bigger if lead singer Malcolm Owen died shortly after of heroin O.D., but there’s no denying what a great band they were in their brief run. Scorching tracks like the funky, disciplined “Savage Circle” showed how incredibly tight they were, able to stop, turn on a dime and explode. No wonder they were worshiped early on by members of Bad Brains and Minor Threat. And unlike Bad Brains’ early work, their reggae-influenced songs were just as strong as the punk barnstormers, with the original, steely “It Was Cold” another highlight. Essential.

Buffalo – Volcanic Rock (Vertigo/Repertoire, 1973)
Buffalo - Volcanic Rock (Vertigo/Repertoire, 1973)When the first three Buffalo albums were reissued by Repertoire eight years ago they were considered a “lost” band, despite the fact that they were the first Australian band to be signed by Vertigo records, which did their best to stir up hype by claiming Dead Forever… (1972) was better than Sabbath’s Vol. 4.  That’s not fair competition, but they were certainly as good as BudgieVolcanic Rock was their peak, belatedly considered a proto-stoner rock classic. Only Want You For Your Body (1974) is worth checking out too for the diverse but tightly wound songs. They released two more albums that unfortunately devolved into ordinary boogie rock after firing guitarist John Baxter and losing bassist Pete Wells to Rose Tattoo.

November – En Ny Tid är Här (Sonet Grammofon, 1970)
November – En Ny Tid är Här (Sonet Grammofon, 1970) Lots of Swedish bands have named proto-metallers November as a big influence, like Witchcraft, Graveyard, Horisont, Captain Crimson, probably Dead Man and Troubled Horse. I’m guessing their influence hasn’t stopped spreading, as people beyond Sweden are still just starting to hear about them. It’s hard not to be skeptical that this is just another lost 70s band that is overrated because of its previous obscurity, but I have been enjoying their first three albums immensely for a while now. I think they definitely measure up to other heavy blues Cream acolytes and proto-metal from the time like Mountain, Leaf Hound, Cactus, Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster, Jerusalem, Captain Beyond, Night Sun, even Led Zep! They evolved out of two Stockholm groups, Train and The Imps and toured with Fleetwood Mac in 1969 before recording their rocking debut (translates to “A New Time Is Here, which remains slightly more consistent than their second album, 2:a (1971), especially with the less bluesy hard rockers “En Annan Värld” and “Ta Ett Steg I Sagans Land”.

Pink Fairies – Kings Of Oblivion (Polydor, 1973)
Pink Fairies - Kings Of Oblivion (Polydor, 1973)London’s Portobello Road must have been an interesting scene in the early 70s with The Edgar Broughton Band, Hawkwind, Deviants and Pink Fairies playing mostly free shows to hippies, anarchists and biker gangs. Pink Fairies were influenced by both post-beatnik jokesters The Fugs and the MC5. By their third album, Kings Of Oblivion, MC5 was more of a factor with the help of Larry Wallis. Wallis went on to create an early template for Motörhead based on the album, even re-cutting opener “City Kids” on his recordings with Lemmy. It was also considered a key pre-punk influence. One only has to up the tempo of “Raceway” slightly to be reminded of Buzzcocks‘ “Fast Cars.” Or perhaps a slightly less cartoonish precursor to The Dictators Go Girl Crazy. Either way, it’s damn fun.

Night Sun – Mournin’ (Zebra/Second Battle, 1972)
Night Sun - Mournin' (Zebra, 1972)Among previously overlooked cult albums by Jerusalem, Lucifer’s Friend, Bang, Blues Creation and Blackwater Park, Night Sun’s Mournin’ stands out in the pack as an exceptional piece of German proto-metal with elements of spacy, jazzy prog, screamy Ian Gillian style vocals, and even some moments of doomy heaviness surpassed at the time only by Sabbath. Though it was produced by Conny Plank at windrose in Hamburg, Mournin’ was not celebrated along with the likes of Plank-produced Kraftwerk, Faust and Ash Ra Tempel mainly because its proggy proto-metal was simply not fashionable, at least until recently. Many of the members have a background in 60s jazz band Take Five, and it shows in their chops. The keyboard-heavy grooves still have that satisfyingly lumbering stomp, but they can spin on a dime when they need to, like on the scorching “Nightmare.” The instrumental “Got A Bone Of My Own,” “Plastic Shotgun” and “Crazy Woman” are just as impressive and compare well against the best that Uriah Heep and Atomic Rooster have to offer from all their albums.

Cockney Rebel – The Psychomodo (EMI, 1974)
Cockney Rebel - The Psychomodo (EMI, 1974)By 1974 everyone was declaring glam rock dead. Bowie sent it an apocalyptic kiss-off with Diamond Dogs, and even Bolan was saying it even though his latest T. Rex album still retained its basic glam pop essence despite incorporating more soul and funk elements. But  it the hands of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, it simply grew fangs and developed a sinister, fractured circus blues twist. When their excellent debut The Human Menagerie (1973) didn’t quite reach the commercial heights as their peers, the band got even darker and weirder rather than chase the hits. While they did not rock as hard as Sweet, the music was plenty menacing, evoking images of “morgue-like lips,” “blow-job blues and boogaloos.” The nearly 16 minutes of dirgey darkness of “Ritz” and “Cavaliers” is balanced by the romantic melodicism of “Mr. Soft” and “Bed in the Corner.” “Sling It!” and “Tumbling Down” wrap up the album with some storming emotional intensity. The last fading, repeated refrain, “Oh dear, look what they’ve done to the blues!” While the band technically broke up after that, Harley wasn’t quite finished with the Cockney Rebel name, releasing the similarly underrated The Best Years Of Our Lives (1975) and the less essential Love’s A Prima Donna (1976).

Sweet – Sweet Fanny Adams (RCA, 1974)
Sweet - Sweet Fanny Adams (RCA, 1974)
Despite the fact that it melded the best of both the worlds of T. Rex and Queen, and influenced everyone from Kiss to Cheap Trick and Motley Crue, Sweet Fanny Adams wasn’t even released properly in the U.S. Only part of it was heard in a domestic reissue of Desolation Boulevard (1974), a minor classic in its own right. It was finally reissued by Sony BMG in 2005, remastered with copious bonus tracks. The album kicks off with proto-speedmetal, I kid you not. “Set Me Free” is fast and clean with a tight guitar solo that sticks in the brain, basically providing a template for later Judas Priest and NWOBHM, and eventually covered by Saxon among many others. It definitely shows Andy Scott is one of the undersung guitar heroes of the era. “No You Don’t” is a brooding, psych rocker with vocals that rival Ozzy Osbourne’s paranoia. The B-side “Burning” also pays tribute to Black Sabbath. “In To The Night,” has the coolest intro, building up from a simple drum pattern and riff, that probably made the likes of Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent green with envy, had they even heard it. “Peppermint Twist” and “AC-DC” break up the dark rockers with some pop. I believe the Australian AC/DC already existed by the time the latter came out. Sweet F.A., yeah!

Hawkwind – Hall Of the Mountain Grill (UA/One Way, 1974)
Hawkwind - Hall Of The Mountain Grill (UA/One Way, 1974)The double live album Space Ritual (1973) is certainly a great recap of Hawkwind’s best up to that point. But it would be a huge mistake to ignore their next album, Hall Of The Mountain Grill, which finds them at their peak, balancing their guitar heavy space rock sound with futurist electronic keyboards and mellotrons. Their classic “Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke)” and “D-Rider” sandwich “Wind Of Change,” a moody electronic piece augmented by strings. Side two the highlights “You’d Better Believe It” and Lemmy’s biker anthem “Lost Johnny,” and closes with the dizzying psych freakout “Paradox.” Warrior On The Edge Of Time (1975) also has highlights in “Assault & Battery,” “The Golden Void” and “Magnu,” and is Lemmy’s last album with the band. But to me Mountain Grill, complete with sleeve art of the crushed hull of a spaceship crashed onto an alien planet shrouded in poison gasses, is Hawkwind’s iconic peak.

Budgie – Never Turn Your Back On A Friend (MCA, 1973)
Budgie - Never Turn Your Back On A Friend (MCA, 1973)Considered second-tier among metal architects Sabbath, Purple and Heep, Budgie were underrated then and now though they were later acknowledged as huge influences by the likes of Judas Priest, who toured with them heavily in the early days, Iron Maiden and Metallica.  All of their first five albums are excellent and worth hearing. Burke Shelley’s Geddy Lee-like high pitched vocals and their quirky sense of humor perhaps kept them from bigger success. Their third album brought things together with sharp production, scintillating Roger Dean artwork, the supercharged opener “Breadfan” and epic workouts like “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand” and “Parents.”

Van der Graaf Generator – Godbluff (Charisma/Blue Plate, 1975)
Van der Graaf Generator - Godbluff (Chrysalis/Blue Plate, 1975)Van der Graaf Generator was an enigma from the start, and remain just as mysterious over 40 years later. From the beginning they defied easy categorization. They didn’t fit easily into the niches of psychedelic rock, folk, jazz fusion or progressive rock, yet there were all of those elements and more. At the peak of the punk era, when the bloated circus road shows of Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis were dismissed by punkers as irrelevant, Johnny Rotten famously gave props to Van der Graaf singer Peter Hammill during a radio show. Mark E. Smith of The Fall was also a fan. It’s easy to hear why. When many prog bands were polishing their schtick into static performances, Van der Graaf Generator embodied that restless, questing spirit that led to constant change. They never played the same songs the same way, often pushing themselves to the point failure, alienating half their audiences. This of course sabotaged their commercial viability, but generated awe and respect mostly among fellow musicians. The early albums showed Hammill’s talents as a worldly lyricist as he tackled mysticism, numerology, religion, science fiction and even the Spanish Inquisition. Pawn Hearts brought the madness to a peak as one of the most uncompromising albums of the early 70s. Experimentation with electronics gave their sound an edge that sounded even more evil than before, creating a truly monumental clash of beauty, chaos and horror.  After several exhausting tours of Italy and Europe, the band took a hiatus as Hammill tried his hand at some solo work.

Two and a half years later, they triumphantly re-emerged with Godbluff, which trimmed some of the more dense, show-off instrumentation into sharp, laser focus. Introducing some space to breathe gave the music that much more impact on “The Undercover Man” and “Arrow” with a spare, sinewy rhythm in the opening statement, Hammill’s vocals adding sweeping drama that suggests he may have even been an influence on Ronnie James Dio.  At a time when prog was falling out of commercial favor or moving in a pop direction like Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator became even more heavy and uncompromising, with perhaps only King Crimson as comparable peers.

Family – A Song For Me (Reprise, 1970)
Family - A Song For Me (Reprise, 1970)During the fertile period of 1968-1970 in the UK, a number of bands navigated the transition from psychedelic rock to prog. Many kept their fingers in a number of other genres, and while the likes of Traffic, Procol Harum, Spooky Tooth, Family, new favorites Stray and even Yes were pretty well known, they don’t necessarily get enough credit for making groundbreaking albums during that three year span. Apart from the astounding Stray debut, the heaviest and most experimental of the bunch is Family’s A Song For Me.  Lead by vocalist Roger Chapman, who boasted a unique, scratchy vibrato, but could also wail as well at Steve Marriott, Family released very strong albums with Music In A Doll’s House (1968) and Family Entertainment (1969). In the face of adversity (failed U.S. tour, losing two members and a manager), their third was their best yet. Psychedelic rock, folk, jazz, blues and boogie are all explored, but the most exciting bits of this diverse set are the unusual arrangements in heavy progressive rockers “Drowned In Wine,” “Love Is A Sleeper” and especially the 9:20 long title track, a real monster that competes with Stray’s “All In Your Mind” and “Suicide” for extended length rockers that keep you enraptured every second. The band continued to evolve on the less consistent Anyway… (1970), Fearless (1971) and another fan favorite, Bandstand (1972). But A Song For Me captures them at their edgy peak.

Magazine, Real Life (Virgin/EMI, 1978)
Magazine, Secondhand Daylight (Virgin/EMI, 1979)
Magazine - Real Life (Virgin, 1978)Per the title, the poll covers much more than proto-metal and space rock. Iggy Pop, Television, Patti Smith, Bowie, Roxy Music, Modern Lovers, Eno, Beefheart, Wire, Joy Division, PiL Gang Of Four, The Pop Group, The Fall and a pigpile of punk will no doubt be big factors. If I had my way I would have excluded punk related stuff so that more interesting, obscure artists could get some attention. Not that punk, particularly post-punk isn’t interesting. It’s just that it’s been covered so thoroughly that there are very few unsung heroes, at least ones worthy enough to make peoples’ ballots covering an entire decade. The closest I can think of as underrated would be Magazine.

Magazine gets only a fraction of the acclaim and attention lavished on Joy Division not for lack of good music, but because rather than off himself, Howard Devoto worked in an office after the breakup of his band (when he wasn’t working on underrated solo projects and spinoff bands). The truth is, their music is as powerful and groundbreaking as their more famous contemporaries. Just as their name can evoke the glamor of fashion rags or the menace of a weapon, the band walked the line between sophistication and violence. Devoto was a key player in the beginning of the punk movement, organizing two early Sex Pistols shows in Manchester and forming the Buzzcocks. Yet before more than a few hundred people even heard of punk, Devoto grew bored with its limitations and moved on. He found like-minded musicians in Scottish guitarist John McGeoch, keyboardist Dave Formula and future Bad Seed Barry Adamson on bass. He intended to expand on what Iggy Pop and Bowie did the previous year on The Idiot and Low. Real Life is one of the earliest and most riveting examples of post-punk, embodying perfectly the tension between Devoto’s roots in punk and his desire to stretch out, particularly on “Shot By Both Sides,” based on a riff written by his former Buzzcocks mate Pete Shelley. “Definitive Gaze” is a glistening sci-fi chase song that builds upon Eno and Bowie without soundling like copycats. Their definitive song is the glowering “The Light Pours Out Of Me.” Bonus tracks include a rougher, original single version of “Shot By Both Sides,” second single “Touch and Go” and the James Bond theme “Goldfinger.” If Devoto was the emotionally distant outsider on Real Life, he was a glacier on Secondhand Daylight. While it has highlights such as “Rhythm of Cruelty” and “Permafrost,” the album’s main accomplishment is its consistently brittle sound and feel, that would influence The Comsat Angels, The Cure and many others.

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