I Nominate Richie Havens As The Most Criminally Unappreciated Recording Artist Ever:
February 17, 2002 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I Nominate Richie Havens As The Most Criminally Unappreciated Recording Artist Ever: In this recent Guardian article, John Aizlewood asked "How on earth did this man miss the boat?" Indeed! His voice is deep and beautiful, his guitar-playing is exciting and innovative and, to my mind, he's the best and busiest no-nonsense live performer around. On his website he generously shows us how to play guitar in his own special way. He also comes across as an inspiring, wonderful human being. And yet, for all his Woodstock kudos, he's more well known for his voice-overs on commercials(McDonalds and Pepsi, for example) than for his music. His new record, Wishing Well, is just out. But nobody seems to care. He's a hero in Europe but negligently seen as a hippy in his native land. There are a lot of other unnaccountably underrated and unknown veteran artists around. Grrrr! Who's yours?
posted by MiguelCardoso (105 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Richard Thompson
posted by mattpfeff at 6:20 PM on February 17, 2002

Good call on Richie Havens being underappreciated, unlike many of his "sensitive" singer-songwriter cohorts, his songs had a dark undertone that lent them a special depth. Also, I remember an interview where he admitted that at Woodstock he improvised "Freedom" pretty much on the spot out of sheer nervousness.

As far as "The Most Criminally Unappreciated Recording Artist Ever" goes I nominate the Bottle Rockets. Led by former Uncle Tupelo roadie Brian Henneman, this Missouri-based quartet creates smart, economical, unpretentious, country-tinged rock. Their album 24 Hours A Day is one of my all time favorites and a terrific place to start. Their upcoming album Songs of Sahm is a collection of covers of the late, great texas songwriter Doug Sahm.
The Bottle Rockets story is instructive on how badly innovative artists are treated by major corporations as well. After their first two albums gained them a following on the indie-circuit, they were signed by Columbia. On hearing the aforementioned 24 Hours... they apparently found it too raw for the Nashville Network and too twangy for MTV and in their words "declined to promote" the album. Which is their stupidity and their loss as these guys create terrific(and if you ask me quite salable) rock and roll.

mattpfeff- good call on Richard Thompson, too. "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" is one of my top 50 all-time favorite tunes.
posted by jonmc at 6:25 PM on February 17, 2002

Got to be Brian Eno.
posted by machaus at 6:26 PM on February 17, 2002

He's not made it big because people see his name, think Richie Valens and assume he's dead.
posted by aaronetc at 6:31 PM on February 17, 2002

Just to make sure I continue mentioning him in every musical thread, Tom Waits. It's not like I want to, but it always seems appropriate.

Also, the great John Hammond, whose voice I would kill any of you to have.

And I agree with you that Richie Havens has been under-represented and underappreciated for more years than I have been alive. But what else is new? To score double cliche points: Great musician ignored by the mainstream, news at 11.
posted by Hildago at 6:36 PM on February 17, 2002

I hardly would call Tom Waits(who I LOVE) or Richard Thompson under-rated, tho'. My personal favorite Thomspon record is shoot out the lights -- you can't beat an album made by a couple in the midst of a divorce. Did she jump or was she pushed?.

His career isn't as long (only 12 years or so far), but I find it frustrating that John Darnielle, AKA the mountain goats, don't receive more acclaim. (FYI, he also has a great zine)

I would have said Nick Drake, too, before that volkswagen commercial renewed interest.

On the folk tip, what about Phil Ochs? There's a brand new best of record out.
posted by malphigian at 6:39 PM on February 17, 2002

The Old 97's. I do agree about Havens-- I hooked up and wore out an old 8-track player as a kid just to hear my dad's Havens albums. He's not entirely unappreciated: the new Groove Armada CD has a track or two featuring him.
posted by yerfatma at 6:43 PM on February 17, 2002

Got to be Brian Eno.

But only before he got all boring, after the release of Before and After Science. His later music gets too much attention in my opinion. Meeting Robert Fripp was the worst thing that could have happened to either of them.

Eno's early records, especially Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and Here Come The Warm Jets, are neglected works of total genius.

I nominate Gentle Giant as a totally neglected band. But avoid their work from post-1976... they got shoddy, which perhaps spoiled their reputation.
posted by evanizer at 6:44 PM on February 17, 2002 [1 favorite]

yaerfatma-good call, my man. Would the Old 97's and the Bottle Rockets make for a fantastic double-bill tour?
posted by jonmc at 6:44 PM on February 17, 2002

Oops, sorry, here is a corrected link to a mountain goats site... amazon failed me.
posted by malphigian at 6:46 PM on February 17, 2002

This just furthers my belief that the mainstream only exists to keep the underground operating at full-strength, offering so much more in terms of talent, insight, and overall product.

The indys keep people grounded, producing things they truly believe it, not just something to cash a paycheque. Mr. Havens, a man I was previously ignorant to, has my full respect. I hope to check him out in the not-so-distant, not-so-dead-broke future.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:46 PM on February 17, 2002

Ah you take me back with your laud of Richie Havens. I completely agree with Miguel's assessment.

WARNING -- Aging (maybe questionable) hippie memory ahead!!!

One of my memories from late high school -- I think it was June of '67 was a concert in celebration of the first anniversary of WNEW-FM, the first real "progressive" or "album rock" FM station in NYC. The station had as DJs Scott Muni, Zacherly, Jonathon Schwartz (I think), and Allison Steele (the "Night Bird" whose late night voice made this young man...never mind)

Anyway, the concert feaured . . .

Richie Havens -- His first album, with "High-Flying Bird" and "SF Bay Blues," two that will live forever, had just come out.

Janis Ian -- Big hit at the time with "Society's Child"

The Staples Singers -- who I didn't appreciate then as much as I do now

The Chambers Brothers -- Singing "Time," with the cowbell, the echo, and all, but still wearing shark-skin suits

The Blues Project -- Super organist Al Kooper had just left and was replaced by some unknown guy named Billy Preston


The Doors -- whose first album had just come out.

This concert was in a sleazy downtown hall called the Bowery Theatre -- a scary neighborhood to a couple suburban kids from Jersey. It was later renamed, but surpisingly I never went back to it when it was known as the Fillmore East.

Please forgive this reverie.

I think for this categorie started by Miguel, I might nominate one mentioned above -- Al Kooper, original founder of the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat, & Tears (when it was cool, pre-David Clayton Thomas); session keyboardist (and french hornist) for Dylan, the Stones and others; part of one of the original "super group" recordings -- Super Sessions -- with Steven Stills, Mike Bloomfield, and Buddy Miles (their "Season of the Witch," with Kooper plaintive vocals is still a classic); and purveyor of some classy blues organ (no synths please) to this day.
posted by fpatrick at 6:54 PM on February 17, 2002

fpatrick - thanks for the mention of WNEW-FM, I grew up on 102.7 and most of what I know about rock and roll I learned from that station, Dave Marsh's books, and a buncha good freinds who clerked in record stores.
I remember once around 1983 or so, my 13 year old self went on a road trip with my dad. I asked my dad if I could put on "my station." He said sure. As I twisted the dial my dad asked who the DJ's on the station.

"Um, Scott Muni..." I answered.

"Scott Muni?!" my old man almost gasped "You gotta be kidding! That guy was old when I was a kid!"

Rock and Roll and father/son bonding, a beautiful moment.
posted by jonmc at 7:01 PM on February 17, 2002

Most underrated musician? My vote goes to Greg Ginn. He practically reinevented the guitar, by adding a jazz dissonence that changed punk and hardcore forever. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth has pretty much admitted to ripping off his style in interviews before - all 'indy' players take heed.
posted by tiger yang at 7:02 PM on February 17, 2002

Harry Nilsson, who seems to only be remembered for his novelty song "Coconut" (and maybe The Point), but whose body of work is criminally unrecognized. Try Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, Harry, or Nilsson Sings Newman on for size.
posted by waxpancake at 7:16 PM on February 17, 2002

The Minutemen. Had D. Boon not died, they'd be the grandfathers of punk rock, rather than just Mike Watt.
posted by billder at 7:48 PM on February 17, 2002

M E Smith, if he hadn't pooped out, fuck off
posted by EngineBeak at 8:09 PM on February 17, 2002

Terry Allen:
"I don't know why Terry's records aren't more popular because I think they're the greatest. Terry writes really good lyrics, very direct and funny and moving, but his songs fall between the cracks of all established formats. His music isn't quite country and it's not quite rock, but the themes he deals with-- family, love, religion, violence-- are so universal it seems like anybody could relate to them." - David Byrne
posted by liam at 8:22 PM on February 17, 2002

(the mainstream only exists
to keep the underground operating at full-strength
purple sunshine to you & miguel for god bless the child in open tuning!
posted by sheauga at 8:43 PM on February 17, 2002


I'd been thinking the same thing. That one song about a Vicent Black Lightning should be enough to justify his whole career. Along the same lines of artist with at least one incredible song. [These links are not previewed since the sound is broken on the PC I'm working on.]

Richard Thompson: World Cafe segment
Greg Brown: Marraige Chant
Jimmie Dale Gillmore: Dallas

I swear to god I'm not a folkie but those are just the people that came to mind.
posted by rdr at 8:44 PM on February 17, 2002


Trailblazer, genius, cultural icon.

And best known for "Valley Girl". Shit.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:45 PM on February 17, 2002

Does the fact that Richie Havens mainly sings other songwriters' material have anything to do with it? Or that he's a black performer who most of the time covers folk and pop songs written by allegedly soul-less white composers? This last question is touchy, I know, but he does get criticized a lot(by clueless, Jerry Lewis-loving French rock critics, for instance) for his choice of repertory. As indeed another great, grossly underrated singer and arranger, Isaac Hayes, did, for singing Bacharach and other whiteys, back in his glorious "Hot Buttered Soul" days.

I ask as an innocent European - might there be something uncool and even treacherous, in a PC radical-chic environment, for a socialist like Havens to unironically sing Gordon Lightfoot, George Harrison and David Crosby?

(What a great thread, by the way! Though I am shocked no one mentioned Tim Buckley...)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:46 PM on February 17, 2002

Angélique Kidjo
Australian punk kids Frenzal Rhomb
Alfredo Rodriguez (at least, here in America)

Vastly and evilly underrated, all.
posted by dong_resin at 8:46 PM on February 17, 2002

that he's a black performer.... have anything to do with it?

Absolutely, a balck performer would have had an easier time seeing the despair that accompanied a lot of the Aquarian dreams of the counterculture.

Just as the fact that the Bottle Rockets are genuine country boys keeps their musiv free of the campy, pseudo-white trash mannerisms and condescending fakery of a lot of "alt.country' acts.

BTW, Tim Buckley was a genius. For a primer in underrated or just plain undiscovered geniuses get this book which comes with a great companion CD, featuring people like the Mystic Tide, Merrell Fankhauser, the Music Machine, Skip Spence, and the Monks. Check it out, Miguel, and anyone else for that matter. It's a great primer for undiscovered treasures.
posted by jonmc at 8:57 PM on February 17, 2002

Paul Pena. Even if the name doesn't ring a bell, one of his songs might--he wrote Jet Airliner, of Steve Miller Band fame, for his second album. Thanks to record company mismanagement, New Train sat in limbo from 1973 to 2000. I highly recommend it--it's a beautiful mix of blues, soul and rock. That it took so long to see the light of day is a true shame.

He also taught himself the art of Tuvan throat singing after hearing it on a Russian shortwave radio broadcast. A short account of how he happened across throat singing is here. There's also a 1999 documentary, Genghis Blues, about a trip he took to Tuva.
posted by disarray at 9:02 PM on February 17, 2002

In this context--Bobby Charles. A Cajun rockabilly on Chess in the 50s--See You Later, Alligator--to a singer-songwriter in the 70s, produced by Rick Danko of the Band and an emeritus member of the then ultra hip Woodstock--the town, that is--music scene around the Band, Paul Butterfield and so forth. I love his Small Town Talk , both by him and Better Days. I love his eponymous Bearsville album Bobby Charles. I wish there was a sample of his version of the song on the Band site but I have to burn one for them off my vinyl album, now that I remember. It's too bad, it's such a sweet song. But Geoff Muldaur does it justice on the sample on that Better Days link.

Here's more from the Band site about him. Boy, American pop culture may be uber alles worldwide but go figure--two fan sites, one in Japan and one in Norway, that document this guy, who truly qualifies for living legend status. He's one of the best but so yesterday and so Mesozoically pre-Britney--even our treasures are trash to us here in America. It always takes outsiders to remember our best.

And don't get me started about the living legends more in my own area of specialty.... It takes a Coen Brothers movie for most of you to listen to people I've been hearing all my life.
posted by y2karl at 9:05 PM on February 17, 2002

Warren Zevon

Uneven, but his best stuff has to be some of the greatest songwriting ever. Clearly respected in the industry (his albums are always a who's who of guest musicians) he's toiled mightily going on 30 years now with pretty much just "Werewolves of London" to show for it -
posted by jalexei at 9:06 PM on February 17, 2002

Jimmie Dale Gilmore has lots of great songs: "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown" is at least as good as "Dallas". Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark do, too.
posted by liam at 9:10 PM on February 17, 2002

I think Spoon has never got the attention they deserved, both "Series of Sneaks" and "Girls Can Tell" are incredible albums (and incredibly different) but haven't got much attention in the USA.
posted by drezdn at 9:15 PM on February 17, 2002

And don't get me started about the living legends more in my own area of specialty.... It takes a Coen Brothers movie for most of you to listen to people I've been hearing all my life.

y2karl, I keep hoping you'll post more on music. Keep going, man.
posted by liam at 9:16 PM on February 17, 2002

But you can still get Bobby Charles albums, I must note: looks like more samples and info here.

Gee thanks, Liam...I just looked up there.
posted by y2karl at 9:18 PM on February 17, 2002

John Wesley Harding

He's fabulous. I never get tired of listening to him.
posted by eilatan at 9:25 PM on February 17, 2002

I would say Nick Drake, but Volkeswagon got ahold of him...

There's a band from New Zealand, kind of a noisy-poppy duo called the Tall Dwarfs that I'm very fond of. They've been around since 1981 and never seem to get talked about at all, even amongst my hipster-dufus-music-geek friends. Worth a listen, if you can track them down.
posted by kittyloop at 9:33 PM on February 17, 2002

Wanda Jackson, America's first female rock and roll singer, deserves more attention outside of rockabilly circles.
posted by liam at 9:49 PM on February 17, 2002

Some great answers and links here to Miguel's question. My first thought was Richard Thompson, and it looks like mattpfeff had the same inspiration. Brian Eno, Tom Waits, and Nick Drake were also obvious choices for me too. Another is the band Big Star.

Gil Scott-Heron's The Revolution will not be televised should land him here alone.

jonmc and fpatrick, I guess I share some of those memories of the WNEW days of rock and roll where the dj's chose what they would play rather than following a pre-defined format. It wasn't the only station I listened to, but it's mention brings thoughts of some great music. It looks like Vin Scelsa was keeping that type of playlist alive on WNEW, on his show idiot's delight.
posted by bragadocchio at 9:57 PM on February 17, 2002

Bobby Womack, who played most of the instruments on Sly Stone's "Family Affair" and was a session guitarist on countless sessions in Memphis and Muscle Shoals, Ala., as well as Atlantic Studios in New York. (He was one of the first to use a wah-wah pedal extensively too.) His albums wildly eclectic, taking in covers of Beatles and country songs, and standards such as "Fly Me to the Moon." A favorite of mine in a version of the Carpenters' "Close to You," which includes a long anti-selling-out intro with a blues guitar part. He appeared on Red Hot + Rhapsody with The Roots in 1988, doing "Summertime."
posted by raysmj at 10:04 PM on February 17, 2002

Arguably the finest blues guitarist of his generation, Ry Cooder attracts a following that cuts across most known boundaries. Earning his early blues dues with Taj Mahal and his rock credentials with Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, Cooder has, over the past couple of decades, made superlative rock, jazz and movie soundtrack albums, and crossed effortlessly into world music fusions with artists as diverse as Malian bluesman Ali Farka Toure, Okinawan group Nenes, and the Indian guitarist V. M. Bhatt.
And if you enjoy World Music, I heartily recomend Waterlily Acoustics...check out their tech specs; their albums have the most eclectic mix of world-class musicians and the purest sound I've ever heard.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:16 PM on February 17, 2002

I nominate John Gorka for having to sell an entire career's worth of pop/rock/country/blues CDs from the grim depths of the folk music section, and David Wilcox for writing Block Dog and for always having to say, "No, I'm that other David Wilcox."
posted by Bixby23 at 10:16 PM on February 17, 2002

I think Townes Van Zandt is one of those artists who are just going to get more and more well known posthumously, liam.
posted by Hildago at 10:17 PM on February 17, 2002

I wish Sly Stone would straighten himself out and play some shows or at least release some music.

Doc Watson-Still performing, go see him.
The Smithereens-A great band that have never got their due.

On the other side....
Roy Buchanan-RIP
Danny Gatton-RIP
The Replacements Yeah, most of us appreciated them, but most people in general didn't.
Too many to name, unfortunately.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 10:17 PM on February 17, 2002

victoria williams & rickie lee jones
posted by centrs at 10:23 PM on February 17, 2002

The Clean (New Zealand pop-rock, somewhat influential)
posted by Karl at 10:38 PM on February 17, 2002

And don't get me started about the living legends more in my own area of specialty.... It takes a Coen Brothers movie for most of you to listen to people I've been hearing all my life.

y2karl, your comment leads me to think that we should also include the person who put the soundtrack for O Brother together in this thread. While his biggest impact has been as a producer, I've enjoyed what I've heard from T-Bone Burnette. I'd be surprised if many people, upon seeing his name as the "archivist" for the coen brothers movie knew that he released a handful of records himself.
posted by bragadocchio at 11:23 PM on February 17, 2002

It takes a Coen Brothers movie for most of you to listen to people I've been hearing all my life.

Do you ever listen to yourself? Please refrain from using sweeping statements like the one above. Even though I know a great deal about music myself, I can assume that I'm not the only one on this board who does.

Oh, no...ahem...I mean, I am humbled by your uncanny knoweldge of music. Teach me more, oh wise one. I am uncultured. I am American. Save me, y2karl, from the perils of cultural ignorance with your vast generalizations and taxonimal assumtions of what we, the ignorant metafilter audience, listen to. Is this what you wanted to hear? Just wondering.
posted by tiger yang at 12:08 AM on February 18, 2002

Terry Callier was almost comically underappreciated, particularly in the US. He's from, and still lives in Chicago. Not sure what the situation is now, but a few years ago he couldn't get paid busking in the states, meanwhile selling out venues in Europe all over the place. He's had prestigious guest guitar/vocal slots on several well respected waxings (by Nitin Sawnhey and Dubtribe Sound System, amongst others).

He did a cracking re-rub of the "love theme" from Spartacus. The Zero 7 mix of which is absolutely sublime. Definitely worth checking, although some jazz fans find the folk influence hard to swallow (and vice versa).
posted by bifter at 1:30 AM on February 18, 2002

Jeez, tiger yang, back off.

y2karl's shown us his qualifications - whadda you got, other than an attitude?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:32 AM on February 18, 2002

I've got to pipe in and say Gavin Friday (basically a self link). In his 20+ years career he's been on Rough Trade, New Rose and Island Records, but nobody knows how to 'market' him properly because he's just too eclectic. He makes a living writing film scores and other projects, but has a hard time getting back into the business to get his next solo album out after some personal set backs took him out of the rat race for a few years. In a similar position (and a very good friend of Gav's) is Maria Mckee, ex-Geffen records, a girl with a golden voice. Her new album is written and recorded, but she has no good way to distribute it at the moment.

These two exquisitely talented people deserve to be heard.
posted by prolific at 3:00 AM on February 18, 2002 [1 favorite]

Anton Karas on the zither.
posted by treywhit at 5:17 AM on February 18, 2002

bragadocchio- I've been a fan of T-bone Burnette since the Alpha Band albums of the late 70's. I also remember being impressed with his production of Leo Kottke's "Time Step" album, it was a great sounding recording, unlike anything I've heard before from Kottke.

Actually, he's produced a lot of recordings over the years, many of them good.
posted by groundhog at 5:50 AM on February 18, 2002

Gotta go with Austin hometown favorite: Toni Price. She's amazing. Her weekly Tuesday night concerts have been described as "something like a holiness revival and a Harley rally and a Phish concert and an Appalachian wedding party."

How to describe her music? Little bluegrass, little folk, little rock, little R+B, and a whole lotta love. Listen to "Callin' my Heart" or "Tumbleweeds" or crowd favorite "Cats and Dogs."

It's as if Janis Joplin woke up one day and started feeling good enough about herself that she waited until noon to drink. I LOVE Toni Price!

And, speaking of coincidences, as I was driving into work this morning and thinking how I should add Toni to this thread, I heard this NPR piece about her. Spooky, huh?

If you're coming to SXSW, make sure you catch Toni while you're here, or you've missed Austin completely.
posted by ColdChef at 6:05 AM on February 18, 2002

What a good list!

There was a small (by which I mean almost non-existant) discussion about Riche Havens on People Talk Too Loud on his birthday, which I mostly link to because it's a convenient excuse to once again share the story of the time I made him a scarf.
posted by jennyb at 6:08 AM on February 18, 2002

i nominate the green pajamas (self link) and pretty much all creative output by jeff kelly. gorgeous, etherial psychedelic pop with intelligent lyrics, and on those rare occasions when they play out there's no finer or more intense band.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:25 AM on February 18, 2002

Bixby23: Great to see you listed David Wilcox, the one who wrote "Block Dog," but the Wilcox you linked to is not that David Wilcox! His homepage is here. His stuff is great, especially the albums "Big Horizon" and "Home Again."

I would also nominate Marshall Crenshaw and Tommy Keene.
posted by sassone at 6:52 AM on February 18, 2002

It's funny, people seem to always like to rip on pop music, yet the entire "Oh Brother" soundtrack consists of music that was considered "pop" in it's day. If metafilter was around back then, most of you would have been riffing on how all that silly "banjo and fiddle" crap was keeping "the real artists" from getting airplay.
posted by girard31 at 7:00 AM on February 18, 2002

groundhog, I have a number of the albums on that list. I wasn't aware that he was the producer until I saw your list, but thinking about it, he definitely does bring something to the mix. It's clear to hear.

You got me looking around for more from him. The list, from his wife Sam Phillip's web site doesn't include some other stuff he's worked upon, including three of her albums. (How underappreciated is that?) Here's another list which includes albums he's worked on as a musician, and some of the soundtracks he's been involved with. Unfortunately, his recent success in film soundtracks might limit his output of his own music.
posted by bragadocchio at 7:14 AM on February 18, 2002

Zappa and Roy Buchanan have already been mentioned. I have to add Chris Rea (while better known than many artists cited in this thread, he's never really gotten his due). A long time ago, a rock station I listened to would play "I'm Working On It" once in a blue moon, and the DJ remarked that a lot of people would always call the station asking Who IS that? I wanted to call in myself and say So play him more often, morons!
Hell, I even liked "Loving You" despite the disco-fevered production.
I think Albert Collins and pretty much every other blues-rocker is underappreciated too--except the highly overrated Jonny Lang. There's no denying his virtuosity, but there's something lacking. (You might think I'm just biased because of his youth, but I do like Kenny Wayne Shepherd. A lot.)
posted by StOne at 7:27 AM on February 18, 2002

As many of you know I live in Texas, very small, rural Texas. I am only 70 miles from Austin, but it is a big 70 miles. There are few people around me that even know who Robbie Robertson, Buddy Guy are or even that John Lee Hooker was a major blues singer. They listen to Charlie Daniels and other country music that is "All American". I just keep my musical tastes to my self most of the time.

I really enjoy threads like this one and English Glam Rock from yesterday. Thanks to all that contributed such good links.
posted by bjgeiger at 7:28 AM on February 18, 2002

I'd back Richie Havens and I'd double that for Terry Callier (A God). I once heard that Terry Callier introduced Crosby, Stills and Nash to each other - not sure how true that is but it would be bitter irony seeing as Terry is one of the few folkies who would could teach them (he could introduce Neil Young to humility and spirituality for a start) and while they became household names he became a computer programmer in Chicago. It's great that he now sells out weeks at a time in London. I'd recommend his early 'Folk sound of' and the wonderful 'Fire and Ice' - The recent 'Best of' is a fantastic album but I once heard Terry urge fans not to buy it because Polydor own the tracks and despite his requests, wouldn't allow some of the profits to go to charity.

The rest of my list would be made up of yet more brilliantly talented black americans, Bobby, Curtis, Jerry, The Isleys, etc, etc ripped off by white brits who took their genius and went on to become the biggest stars in the world. Lennon, McCartney, Jagger, Stewart and dozens more were not just standing on the shoulders of giants, they trampled all over them.
posted by niceness at 7:41 AM on February 18, 2002

Don't preach compassion vast generalizations to me asshole tiger yang, I don't pretend, nor speak in your flowery words - but I've created more jobs obscure self indulgent programs (This thread has done wonders for my stats today, however...) for people that support families are killing time at work, usually, and contributed in taxes hipness to more welfare checks idle party chatter than a dozen of your sort wrapped into a little self-righteous ball.

People don't eat listen to your pious sentiments. They can eat food listen to music I've helped them earn for their tables nobly and, at my own expense, provided them for free.
People, when are we going to wake up and finally get it!? We are not worthy!! When are we going to go out, sell everything we own and start a religion devoted to MidasMulligan!? When!? When!?

MetaFilter: Where everybody rubs somebody the wrong way sometimes and somebody rubs nearly everybody the wrong way
nearly all the time. ;þ
posted by y2karl at 7:45 AM on February 18, 2002

Back to Richie Havens - of all the artists that appeared in the Woodstock film, he's the only one that didn't have a big career boost from it. When I saw the movie as a teenager, I liked his performance as much or more than many of the other artists. But I don't remember much in the way of promotion in the aftermath, so I think his manager or record company really blew it.

And if you think gravelly-voiced folkie singers had limited commercial success in the early 70's, I give you Cat Stevens.
posted by groundhog at 7:48 AM on February 18, 2002


The rest of my list would be made up of yet more brilliantly talented black americans, Bobby, Curtis, Jerry, The Isleys, etc

Yeah - I thought Curtis Mayfield too. But I guess you have to ask yourself *how* underappreciated an artist needs to be in order to be included here... :-) I'm sure I'm not the only one that sunk into a deep, dark winter depression when they heard that he'd died last winter.

One from the leftfield actually - I reckon all-round reggae heroes Sly & Robbie could definitely qualify here. Best known for a cough medicine ad in the UK, and a couple of dodgy production gigs. Nevertheless it's hard to deny their status as pioneers and roots torch-bearers in the late 70s and 80s. The Sly & Robbie 'Sensi Dub' (can't remember which volume) is an absolute classic.
posted by bifter at 7:50 AM on February 18, 2002

buena vista social club! and emmett ray :)
posted by kliuless at 7:51 AM on February 18, 2002

Actually, girard31, the best selling pop music genre of that day were sweet bands, R. Crumb's current favorite music, and jazz was indie music. Hillbilly and Hawaiian and Acadian were off the charts and downhome blues were more the equivalent to rap.
posted by y2karl at 7:51 AM on February 18, 2002

very astutely put, y2karl, to which I can only add, all indy vs. top 40, electronica vs. guitars, acoustic vs electric, old vs new, punk vs mulletrock spats aside, -there are only 2 kinds of music-good and bad.
posted by jonmc at 7:55 AM on February 18, 2002

Dave Alvin, Dave Alvin, Dave Alvin. He (along with his brother Phil) founded the Blasters. He was in X. He won a Grammy last year, but no one noticed. (Normally, of course, the Grammy's are a marek of a sell-out, but this is Dave.)

He has worked with/produced records by the Old 97's, Tom Waits, The Hangdogs, Big Sandy and the Flyright Boys and more. He toured with Big Dick Thompson 2 years ago.

He's a great songwriter and guitarist. He wrote "4th of July" and "Marie, Marie".

And in 3 weeks I'm traveling 2500 miles to see him with the reunited Blasters.

Dave Alvin.
posted by donpardo at 8:06 AM on February 18, 2002

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. They are pretty recent so this does not fit exactly into the tread, but the guy writes song of the very topmost quality and the music they play is magical. I've been quite evangelical about them, which is unusual.

Donpardo. . . .here are the Blasters dates. . you have me thinking of a road trip here. . I love them!
posted by Danf at 8:20 AM on February 18, 2002

Mia Zapata and the Gits
posted by goneill at 8:23 AM on February 18, 2002

Thanks, Danf. I'll be at the Slim's show. Flying in from Atlanta the night before.
posted by donpardo at 8:33 AM on February 18, 2002

Ian Anderson. He help transition '60s Brit jazz into '70s Brit neo-art rock (buy something besides Aqualung and you can tell), and was (surprisingly) and early adopter of proto-electronica.
posted by UncleFes at 8:37 AM on February 18, 2002

Trout Fishing In America are my musical heroes and amazing live performers. I would love to play bass like Keith Grimwood.

Chris Smithers is another all-time favorite.

Agreement with what disarray said - find a copy of Ghengis Blues and rent it. You'll be amazed.
posted by tdismukes at 8:38 AM on February 18, 2002

Pleez furgif mi spelin, itz Munday :(
posted by UncleFes at 8:42 AM on February 18, 2002

Have to agree to Roy Buchanan & Tim Buckley.
BTW that reminds me of our earlier musical discussion<
"Livestock" & "Greetings from LA" should have cracked a mention there.
posted by johnny7 at 9:26 AM on February 18, 2002

which of the following cartoon characters are also musicians?
A. alvin.
B. josie.
C. o town.
D. david partridge.
E. wesley.
E. jaco.
posted by quonsar at 9:53 AM on February 18, 2002

Damn quonsar, I really hoped that the o town link worked. Alas, my day will go on.
posted by plemeljr at 10:10 AM on February 18, 2002

Prol: I have to second your Gavin Friday nod with a "Hell Yeah!" (Great job on his site, btw) I would be remiss, however, if I failed to mention Lloyd Cole.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:38 AM on February 18, 2002

Wesley Willis? YEAH! "Suck a Cheetah's Dick" is an instant classic!
posted by ColdChef at 11:03 AM on February 18, 2002

That wasn't sarcasm. I really, really, really like Wesley Willis.
posted by ColdChef at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2002

Hmm... a lot of the stuff I listen to is probably underappreciated-- which is to say my friends make fun of me for being a "music snob", which I probably am, compared to them, but not really that knowledgable. Which is to say I think most of the artists I listen to are probably fairly well-known around here.

I would like to mention Chris Bell, though. Even the people I know who know and love Big Star (I do; the #1 Record/Radio City disc is my favorite of the ones I own, and I own a lot) tend to give Alex Chilton most/all of the credit for the band. And sure, Bell was only there for one album, and for parts of the second (uncredited), but damn, he was good-- one spin of I Am the Cosmos was enough to convince me. Ah, if only he hadn't died young.
posted by nath at 11:32 AM on February 18, 2002

Los Lobos

Yeah, they had a number one hit in the late 80s (La Bamba), but it was seen as a novelty thing by most people.

If you go here, you can get some smokin' live tracks, including some more ace covers.They're provided by the band.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 11:41 AM on February 18, 2002

Richie Havens is definitely playing the Glastonbury Festival this year, and appearing there with Groove Armada. I guess he's being rediscovered by a younger generation of musicians.
posted by liam at 11:53 AM on February 18, 2002

Peter Blegvad: musician, cartoonist, Teacher, devotee of the esoteric, the numinous and the blues, former member of Slapp Happy (who collaborated with Faust and Henry Cow) and very tall man.

Some samples from Hangman's Hill at CD Now (sorry about the pop-up), sure there must be others...

(And he used to draw backgrounds for Peanuts)
posted by Grangousier at 12:00 PM on February 18, 2002

I'll second the Los Lobos shout out. Hideously underrated by the mainstream at large.
posted by dong_resin at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2002

Roy Harper, whose backing band (in a manner of speaking) was Led Zeppelin, for a little while. Their "Hats Off to Harper" was in honor of him. He continues to be as interesting and impassioned after thirty years of recording/performing.

And Kate Bush, who should please get back to recording ASAP (she has also worked with Roy Harper, in a duet called "Only You," from "The Unknown Soldier" album).

And Stone the Crows, with Maggie Bell on lead vocals, who gave Janis Joplin a run for her money.
posted by datawrangler at 12:27 PM on February 18, 2002

Fiona Apple or Sheryl Crow. Easy.

Everyone abandoned Sheryl Crow before she released her best album, how dumb is that?
posted by wackybrit at 12:32 PM on February 18, 2002

taxonimal assumtions--is that some sort of calico clone reference, by the way? ;)--aside, tiger yang, I think the assertion that overseas listeners to American musics do tend to keep track of things we forget or missed altogether may be a sweeping generalization but, point in fact, what were those Brits listening to in the Beatles and Rolling Stones salad days? Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, not to mention names far too obscure to drop here even still without seeming overly pretentious--hell, when I was in high school, the Stones brought the Wolf onto Shindig, the closest thing we had to MTV way back then. He was way too strong for even those collegiate folkie wannabe types like me who thought the epitome of the blues was Mississippi John Hurt. So allow me my cranky moments, please.

Hey, Grangousier, I heard something by Peter Blegvad god knows how many years ago and it struck enough to write his name and the song title down somewhere. But it's lost in the kipple now... And, dong-resin, I used to be a rock--well, actually blues and funk--critic ("rock critic"...now there is a shameful admission: talk about an "occupation" as useless as tits on a boar, as my grandfather used to say) for the Rocket here in Seattle and for their whoop de doo hundredth issue party, they booked some jugglers, magicians and Los Lobos. They played the night the nuclear holocaust miniseries The Day After premiered, which was roughly about what? 1980-1981?

Anyway, only about three dozen people showed up--a bunch of extremely geeky looking writers, editors and cartoonists and their friends--while everyone else stayed home to watch Jason Robards and company die of radiation poisoning. What were they thinking!?

Los Lobos we didn't know from Adam, Cain or Abel as they had no album out yet, but man, they blew us all away.

And, man, were they pissed at the size and looks of the crowd. I bet they're still bitching about that night.
posted by y2karl at 12:54 PM on February 18, 2002

"Tits on a boar" is my favorite thing available at TGI Friday's.
posted by dong_resin at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2002

If Tom Waits can make this thread - and it's fine by me; I'd think him underappreciated if he was bigger than the Beatles - then Marc Ribot deserves a mention.
posted by liam at 2:09 PM on February 18, 2002

Or John Lurie, or John Zorn, or any of the other Knitting Factory folks of that ilk.
posted by machaus at 2:41 PM on February 18, 2002

I love Ritchie Havens. I had moved from Philly to Seattle, leaving my girlfriend behind. After hearing that her brother was going to be taking her to see Ritchie, I called the theater. She was pretty tickled about the song he dedicated to her from me and not very long after, she moved to Seattle. He is a very giving performer and has wowed every crowd I've seen him play for.
posted by roboto at 2:43 PM on February 18, 2002

sassone, thanks for the correction. I get so confused.
posted by Bixby23 at 5:30 PM on February 18, 2002

In Australia, Jeff St John. One of the greatest blues/pop voices ever.

He and and Renee Geyer sang a (terrible) song at the end of the Special Olympics. I hoped it meant a revival of interest in his work, but it never happened.
posted by emf at 5:58 PM on February 18, 2002

y2karl useta write for The Rocket?! Damn, that's cool...
posted by black8 at 6:09 PM on February 18, 2002

This thread has jarred a few memories.

Anyone remember Ted Hawkins? I read about him in Rolling Stone (about 4 years prior to his death) and the article alone compelled me to go buy whatever music was available by him. I get goose skin mentioning his name because of how incredible his stuff was/is.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:52 PM on February 18, 2002

maybe it's because i live near dallas, but the old 97s are anything but underrated.

my picks? (and apologies for my lack of linkage. they're all worth googling, i swear it.)

the starlight mints- nice, even, indie rock from oklahoma.

snow patrol- think belle and sebastian, minus the hype.

sloan- good canadian pop music.
posted by amandaudoff at 6:57 PM on February 18, 2002

Alabama3 (A3): although they have this professional looking and occasionally Shocking site and made the theme song to the Soprano's (about a female domestic violence victim), they are yet to have a hit, tho they are possibly the best live act touring at the moment (think 'goddam acid house country techno music', in their own words) - this review of TS soundtrack sums them up quite well: their main themes of love, drugs and politics seem fairly universal to me. Enjoy...
posted by dash_slot- at 6:58 PM on February 18, 2002

Looks like I'm late to the party here but I did want to comment that I own absolutelty no Ritchie Havens albums - and I have no desire to purchase any ever.

Now, before you crucify me, let add that I've gone to see him perform live 3 times and will very likely go see him again because he is an incredible performer. I just have no desire to listen to his music if he isn't there to sing it - having had his charisma and energy displayed to me makes the recordings pale in comparison. Just my opinion though...
posted by RevGreg at 7:25 PM on February 18, 2002

I certainly remember Ted Hawkins. Andy Kershaw claimed to have discovered him on Venice Boardwalk
posted by liam at 8:24 PM on February 18, 2002

i suppose you could include dr john, who is fantastic in his own right, but his early backing band (the meters) are debatably more influential (being responsible for alot of hip hop breaks).
then there's clint ruin, who was taking on the themes of religion=sex=money and having an x-rated girlfriend when maralyn manson was still in short trousers.
not forgetting, pete namlook, prolific ambient pioneer, who is attempting to create a form of universal musical notation.

but would we still love them if they were more popular?
posted by asok at 7:53 AM on February 19, 2002

The Durutti Column. Signed to Factory along with Joy Division in the late seventies, Vini Reilly's The Durutti Column are Manchester's best-kept secret. Unique sound with stunning guitar and drums - as ambient and chill-out stuff is so big at the moment they're due a major reassessment. I'd recommend the sublime "LC" or the first album "The return of..." which was originally released in a sandpaper sleeve - it couldn't sit in a record collection it had to be on it's own.
posted by niceness at 8:16 AM on February 19, 2002

Syd Straw.
posted by luser at 9:20 AM on February 19, 2002

Niceness: I once had the privilege of recording and publishing one of Vini's records. He came over to Portugal to record a single song and, in the course of an amazing night at the studio, laid down a whole album. It was called "Amigos em Portugal" and came out on my now long-defunct Fundação Atlântica label. I had to do the cover and everything.

One song - I think it's the best of course - was named after my daughters: "Sara e Tristana". Although it reached No.11 in the UK indie charts, the label went broke, the big guys moved in and it could never be re-released.

All I have left is one over-abused cassete. The master tapes languish in EMI hell. :(

He certainly is a genius.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:37 PM on February 19, 2002

"The return of..." which was originally released in a sandpaper sleeve - it couldn't sit in a record collection it had to be on it's own.

I was working for KRAB, this one-of-the-few-and-the-brave indie alternative FM stations in America--think WKRP meets Chomsky and Kesey at the the time--where I did these varous blues, funk and reggae shows, as an unpaid AdminAsst, when that came out.

I thought it was a promo joke when we got it in the mail--ah, the days of lavish promo swag--and tacked it to the wall. Someone opened it later and found it had a record in it. With a tack hole in it. Jeez, if I had the records that came in then, I could sell them on Ebay and retire... Agent Orange? What in the hell kind of name is that?
posted by y2karl at 1:17 AM on February 20, 2002

Hey Miguel, respect (as they say). I used to work in a bar in Manchester and was in awe of the shy, frail guy who knew everybody, kept himself to himself and played the guitar like an angel. Remember seeing an interview with him in which he was asked his favourite brands - "Valium and Perrier".

With an appearance and plug in the new Mcr/Factory film 24 hr Party People it would be great to see him get the acclaim he deserves although I imagine he wouldn't be that bothered.
posted by niceness at 4:04 AM on February 20, 2002

Niceness - thanks for the link. I wish all films were so well presented on the Internet. Though it's a bit strange seeing actors playing people I know, like my very dear friend Lindsay. Not to mention the guy with the unenviable job of being Vini...

I did dig up a reference to a 1998 release, called "Reissued Experiments" which seems to contain a lot of the "Amigos em Portugal" album(here's the cover which I'm quite proud of...).

Cheers! (God, I miss Manchester!)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:51 AM on February 20, 2002

John Hiatt (AMG): a great songwriter. Bonnie Raitt had a big hit with his "Thing Called Love."

The Connells (AMG): the great lost college guitar rock/pop band.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:36 AM on February 21, 2002

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