The Kane Gang

Vocalist and songwriter Martin Brammer and multi-instrumentalist Dave Brewis met at school in the northeast town of Seaham, County Durham. Teaming up with Paul Woods, the trio developed a liking for 60s/70s soul, funk and R&B which led them through several bands before forming the Kane Gang in late 1982. ‘Brother Brother’ was planned as their first single on Candle Records, a joint venture with friend Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout, but both bands were soon signed to new Newcastle label, Kitchenware…

Go West

Go West is an English pop duo, formed in 1982 by lead vocalist Peter Cox and rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Richard Drummie. At the Brit Awards 1986, they received the award for British Breakthrough Act. The duo enjoyed popularity between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s and are best known for the international top 10 hits “We Close Our Eyes”, “Call Me”, “Faithful”, and “King of Wishful Thinking”; the last was featured in the American romantic comedy film Pretty Woman (1990)…

The Fatima Mansions

Named in honor of a crumbling Dublin housing estate, the edgy, assaultive Fatima Mansions formed in London in 1989. The group was led by the acerbic Cathal Coughlan, who first emerged with Microdisney, and completed by guitarist Andrias O’Gruama, bassist Hugh Bunker, drummer Nick Allum, and keyboardist Zac Woolhouse. Almost immediately upon forming, Fatima Mansions signed to Kitchenware Records and entered the studio, soon issuing their 1989 debut Against Nature, a raw, blistering album featuring the single Only Losers Take the Bus…

The Janitors

Stockholm outfit The Janitors have been a formidable presence on the European underground since they formed back in 2004. Channeling the freewheeling spirit of Hawkwind with equal smatterings of Sabbath and Spacemen 3, the band are masters of taking hold of a gnarly fuzzed out groove and beating it within an inch of its life. Probably not for the faint of heart, their druggy wig-outs are totally relentless and unforgiving…

The Vernons Girls

The Vernons Girls were an English musical ensemble of female vocalists. They were formed at the Vernons football pools company in the 1950s in Liverpool, settling down to a sixteen strong choir and recording an album of standards. As a 16-piece vocal group, the Vernons Girls appeared on the ITV show ‘Oh Boy!’ with the house band between 1958 and 1959, and made a series of relatively successful singles for the label Parlophone between 1958 and 1961…

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci

Sounding like a bizarrely sweet and whimsical cross between progressive rock, psychedelia, and pure pop, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci were one of the most original and distinctive bands to emerge from the vital post-Brit-pop Welsh scene of the mid-’90s. Gorky’s music followed unconventional time signatures and structures, as well as instrumentation (boasting everything from droning moog synthesizers to slurring trombones and steel guitars) and melodic patterns…

Justin Currie

Singer/songwriter Justin Currie was born in Scotland on December 11, 1964. As the bassist/vocalist/chief songwriter for Scottish folk-pop outfit Del Amitri, the Glasgow native released six full-length records between 1982 and 2002 before embarking on a solo career. Currie’s proven gift for infectious melodies paired with wry, earnest, and occasionally barbed lyrics carried over to his solo work as well…

Robert Forster

Although commonly considered the darker, artier half of the creative force of the Go-Betweens — the Lennon to Grant McLennan’s McCartney, as it were — singer, songwriter, and guitarist Robert Forster has a knack for crafty pop songs along with the brooding ballads he contributed to the Go-Betweens’ albums, while his solo career — that began with 1990’s Danger in the Past — blended a healthy mix of both styles…

Etta James

Few female R&B stars enjoyed the kind of consistent acclaim Etta James received throughout a career that spanned six decades; the celebrated producer Jerry Wexler once called her “the greatest of all modern blues singers,” and she recorded a number of enduring hits, including “At Last,” “Tell Mama,” “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and “All I Could Do Was Cry.” At the same time, despite possessing one of the most powerful voices in music, James only belatedly gained the attention of the mainstream audience, appearing rarely on the pop charts despite scoring 30 R&B hits…

Ben Folds Five

Led by the pop-minded prowess of their namesake frontman, Ben Folds Five dispelled any misgivings about a band’s ability to rock without guitars. Calling themselves “punk rock for sissies,” the Chapel Hill natives were often grouped with the nerd rock movement of the mid-’90s, although their debt to jazz music — not to mention Ben Folds’ acerbic spin on the classic pianist/songwriter tradition — ensured the trio a long-lasting legacy after their split in October 2000…

The Triffids

Australian folk-pop band the Triffids was formed in Perth in 1980 by singer/songwriter David McComb, his guitarist/violinist brother Robert, and drummer Alsy MacDonald. Although chiefly influenced by the Velvet Underground, McComb’s songs also drew heavily on the stark desolation of his rural upbringing, incorporating elements of country and blues to paint haunting portraits of isolation and longing…

Jesse Belvin

While not nearly as well remembered by the general public as either Sam Cooke or Otis Redding, singer Jesse Belvin was in many regards a performer of equal stature whose career was also cut far too short by tragedy. At the time of his death, Belvin was moving in the much the same direction as Cooke (he was even on the same record label, although signed earlier), and was scoring and writing hits long before Redding ever cut a record…

Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers emerged at the dawn of the 1990s as a fiery rebuke of the placid state of British indie rock, a scene that grew to favor the swirling solipsism of shoegaze and the neo-psychedelia of acid house. Inspired by the provocative punk of the Clash and the heavy glam of Guns N’ Roses, the Manics wedded leftist politics with arena-filling guitar riffs, a combination that made them irresistible to the British rock press of the ’90s…

Young Jessie

The Los Angeles R&B vocal group scene of the 1950s was a fairly incestuous one — members flitted from one aggregation to the next, often sporting several connections at the time. Young Jessie was a member of the Flairs, Hunters, and Coasters, as well as scoring a solo West Coast hit with his 1955 rocker Mary Lou. Obediah Jessie was a Los Angeles high-school classmate of Richard “Louie Louie” Berry. The two put together the Flairs and debuted on the Bihari Brothers’ Flair label in 1953 with She Wants to Rock…

Chris Difford

After the break-up of Squeeze in 1983, Chris Difford continued writing songs for artists such as Jools Holland, Helen Shapiro, Elvis Costello. He has also written lyrics for music by Jools Holland, Elton John, Wet Wet Wet and others. He launched a solo career in 2003 with his album ‘I Didn’t Get Where I Am’…

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is that rarest of pop phenomena: a superstar who managed to completely cross over from country to the mainstream, becoming an enduring pop culture icon and conquering the world in the process. Swift shed her country roots like they were a second skin, revealing that she was perhaps the savviest populist singer/songwriter of her generation…

Jonas Brothers

A bright, buoyant band who savvily blend classic pop with fashionable dance flair, the Jonas Brothers are the rare teen idols who not only sustained their popularity as they matured, they built upon it: Happiness Begins, their R&B-influenced 2019 comeback record, matched the peaks they had a decade prior. During those early years, the Jonas Brothers played neo-bubblegum with a fizzy Y2K verve that made them Radio Disney staples during its heyday…

The Radio Dept.

The Radio Dept. were one of the more successful shoegaze-influenced indie rock bands to come out of Sweden in the early 2000s, making waves among indie aficionados on the strength of their critically acclaimed first release, Lesser Matters. Elin Almered and Johan Duncanson formed a prototypical version of the group in Lund, Sweden, in 1995 while they were in high school, naming the group after a gas station called Radioavdelningen…

Gaz Coombes

As the exuberant frontman for the boundlessly imaginative Brit-pop group Supergrass, Gaz Coombes at one point seemed to be an eternal teenager — a man destined to never slow down. But time has a way of aging even the irrepressibly youthful, and by their second decade Supergrass had started to expand sonically; by the time he released his solo debut, Here Come the Bombs, in 2012, just two years after the disbandment of Supergrass,

Vic Chesnutt

Though Michael Stipe had been a fan of Vic Chesnutt since the late ’80s, producing his first two full-lengths, it took the Sweet Relief Two tribute album to make a star of him in mid-1996. The album featured artists such as Madonna, Hootie & the Blowfish, Smashing Pumpkins, and R.E.M. covering the songs of Chesnutt, a paraplegic who was injured in a car accident when he was 18. The singer/songwriter began playing contemporary acoustic folk around Athens, GA, soon after his injury…

Glenn Tilbrook

Glenn Tilbrook is an English singer, songwriter and guitarist, best known as the lead singer and guitarist of the English new wave band Squeeze, a band formed in the mid-1970s who broke through in the new wave era at the decade’s end. He generally writes the music for Squeeze’s songs, while his writing partner, Chris Difford, writes the lyrics. In addition to his songwriting skills, Tilbrook is respected both as a singer and an accomplished guitarist…

Colin Blunstone

As the lead singer for the Zombies, Colin Blunstone’s breathy, controlled vocals could range from tender and restrained to energetically soulful. Blunstone’s voice was one of the defining elements of the Zombies’ sound, and when the band dissolved in the late ’60, he retired from music briefly before returning as a solo artist with the graceful chamber pop of his 1971 debut One Year. Blunstone would remain active as a solo artist throughout the ’70s and ’80s…

Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton’s blend of throwback country, classic rock, and soul, along with his ability to craft memorable and meaningful songs — both as a behind-the-scenes journeyman and as a solo performer — have made him a well-regarded, highly rewarded part of the country music scene. Before his 2015 breakthrough debut album, Traveller, he worked in Nashville for years…

Senseless Things

The Senseless Things’ bounding, enthusiastic blend of loud guitars, punk tempos, and bubblegummy pop melodies made a splash on the British scene in the early 1990s. After a few indie singles, including the insistent “Too Much Kissing,” the band turned out a fine trio of albums notable for their Jamie Hewlett-drawn covers, their mix of snappy singles, and their more thoughtful, sometimes political album tracks…

Underworld

Underworld became one of the most crucial electronic acts of the 1990s with a progressive synthesis of old and new, an approach that has served them well through the late 2010s. The trio’s two-man front line, vocalist Karl Hyde and keyboard player Rick Smith, have been recording together since the early-’80s new wave explosion. After the pair released a pair of obscure rock albums, they hit it big the following decade with new recruit Darren Emerson…

The Saints

The Saints were among Australia’s most important rock bands, and the first group from the Antipodes to make a splash on the international punk rock scene. Their independently produced 1976 debut single, “(I’m) Stranded,” was a blazing slice of stripped-to-the-frame rock & roll that became a sensation in Australia and the U.K., and 1977’s “This Perfect Day” was a near-perfect encapsulation of the first era of punk with its blazing speed…

Future Islands

Future Islands’ trademark sound is sleek, guitar-less synth pop balanced with the howls, yelps, and croons of dynamic vocalist Samuel T. Herring. The Baltimore-based group honed their sound on a series of promising albums before their near-perfect 2014 LP Singles and a stunning appearance on Late Night with David Letterman vaulted them to prominence. Herring’s daring as a vocalist and the band’s sweeping melodies were further honed to a point on the slick 2017 album The Far Field…

Donovan

Upon his emergence during the mid-’60s, Donovan was anointed “Britain’s answer to Bob Dylan,” a facile but largely unfounded comparison which compromised the Scottish folk-pop troubadour’s own unique vision … Donovan fully embraced the wide-eyed optimism of the flower power movement, his ethereal, ornate songs radiating a mystical beauty and childlike wonder; for better or worse, his recordings remain quintessential artifacts of the psychedelic era, capturing the peace and love idealism of their time to perfection…

Little Barrie

Little Barrie is an English rock group consisting of Barrie Cadogan (vocals, guitar) and Lewis Wharton (bass, vocals). Virgil Howe contributed drums and vocals from 2007 until his death in 2017. Their sound has drawn from a mixture of influences including freakbeat, garage rock, UK R&B, neo-psychedelia, surf rock, krautrock, funk and rock and roll…

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin was one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged. Her astonishing run of late-’60s hits with Atlantic Records — “Respect,” “I Never Loved a Man,” “Chain of Fools,” “Baby I Love You,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Think,” “The House That Jack Built,” and many others — earned her the title Queen of Soul…

Local Natives

California’s Local Natives make hooky, nuanced rock that balances post-punk urgency with folk-tinged lyricism. The group had a buzzy moment in 2009 when their debut album, Gorilla Manor, attracted fans and critical praise for its vibrant mix of kinetic tribal rhythms and soaring falsetto harmonies…

Blab Happy

Blab Happy were a British indie band from Leicester formed in 1987, comprising Mick McCarthy, Jon Dennis, Tony Owen and Jeremy Clay. After two EPs released on their own Wisdom label won airplay on John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show, and enthusiastic reviews in New Musical Express, Sounds and Melody Maker, they were signed by Demon Records offshoot F-Beat, for whom they released 2 albums, 1991’s Boat and 1993’s Smothered…

Moose

Not so much underrated as unheard, Moose grew up in Britain’s distortion-heavy shoegazing movement of the early ’90s but soon shed the fuzzy wash of their compatriots to embrace a clean, acoustic-based style — inspired by ’60s icons Burt Bacharach and Tim Buckley as well as jangle merchants like the Byrds and R.E.M. — that still relied on the intense guitar effects which characterized the band’s early works. Moose was formed in early 1990 by the songwriting team of Kevin (K.J.) McKillop and Russell Yates…

Robyn Hitchcock

One of England’s most enduring and prolific singer/songwriters, visual artists, guitarists, live performers, and genuine eccentrics, Robyn Hitchcock started his recording career with the Soft Boys, a punk-era band specializing in melodic pop merged with offbeat lyrics. Heavily influenced by Syd Barrett, John Lennon, and Bob Dylan, and prone to telling long, improvised, surrealist monologues during live performances, Hitchcock embarked on a solo career in 1981 and never looked back, releasing nearly an album a year well into the early 21st century, both as a solo artist and with his bands the Egyptians and the Venus 3…

TV Smith

With TV Smith’s Explorers having imploded in late 1981 and the success of the Adverts receding further into the past, TV Smith launched his solo career in early 1982, cutting a single, “Burning Rain,” with Rondelet labelmates the Nervous Germans. Label politics conspired against the release actually taking place, but the new year saw Smith convene fresh sessions with guitarist Tim Renwick and ex-Adverts keyboard player Tim Cross.

Bryan Ferry

While fronting Roxy Music in the 1970s and early ’80s, Bryan Ferry devised a blueprint for art rock, and as a solo performer, he brilliantly updated the parameters of the pop songbook. Although Ferry’s solo career has included several excellent self-penned tracks, he’s best-known for his adventurous interpretations of songs from the rock and pop canon. Combining a studied, wry, lounge-singer persona …

Kaiser Chiefs

Specializing in a melodic blend of classic Brit-pop, post-punk, and new wave, Kaiser Chiefs’ early blue-collar, pub-style take on indie rock managed to split the difference between timely and nostalgic … Kaiser Chiefs resurrected the mod spirit of the Jam in “I Predict a Riot,” a supercharged class-of-1977 power pop single that quickly electrified the British press when it was released in 2004…

The Coral

Since their debut in the early 2000s, the Coral proved to be one of the most consistent bands in the U.K. retro-rock scene thanks to their knack for crafting sneakily good hooks, the jangling interplay of the guitars, and James Skelly’s powerful vocals. Their rambunctious sound deftly mixes together elements of ’60s garage rock, psychedelic pop, and folk-rock, spicing it with bits of Merseybeat, Motown, vintage blues, and even sea shanties…

Lyn Cornell

Lyn Cornell had been a prominent member of the Vernons Girls when she married drummer Andy White and subsequently recorded solo for Decca Records when the original troupe was nearing its 1961 disbandment. She is remembered chiefly for the much-covered, Greek-flavoured film title theme to 1960’s Never On Sunday (her only UK Top 30 entry) and an ebullient ‘African Waltz’, which paled in the shadow of the bigger-selling John Dankworth instrumental. Its b-side, an arrangement of the Jon Hendricks jazz standard ‘Moanin’’, illustrated that, beyond mere pop, Cornell could unfurl a suppleness of vocal gesture that was denied to luckier but less stylistically adventurous contemporaries … In the 70s Cormell along with Ann Simmons formed the duo, the Pearls…

Paul Haig

Paul Haig might be best known as the frontman of Scottish post-punk band Josef K, whose lone official record played a major role in the development of the C-86 scene that followed a few years after the group’s disintegration. Haig continued with a number of involvements in the following decades, releasing a number of records on his own in addition to issuing several collaborative efforts…

Alice Cooper

The man (and the band) who first brought shock rock to the masses, Alice Cooper became one of the most successful and influential acts of the ’70s with their gritty but anthemic hard rock and a live show that delivered a rock & roll chamber of horrors, thrilling fans and cultivating outrage from authority figures (which made fans love them all the more). The name Alice Cooper originally referred to both the band and its lead singer…

Rick Astley

Wielding a rich, deep voice, Rick Astley became an overnight sensation in the late ’80s with his well-crafted dance-pop. Astley was discovered by producer Pete Waterman in 1985, when the Merseyside native was singing in the English soul band FBI. After that, Waterman’s production team — Stock, Aitken & Waterman — took Astley under their wing, writing and producing such impeccably crafted pop singles as “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever”…

Josef K

Inspired by the artsy side of the ’70s New York scene and the anti-careerist stance of punk, Edinburgh natives Paul Haig (vocals, guitar), Malcolm Ross (guitar), and Ronnie Torrance (drums) formed a band with an apparently unmentionable name. Future Exploited member Gary McCormack came and went as the bassist, with the trio eventually renaming itself TV Art. David Weddell eventually filled the gap, with the band frequently playing in and around their town. By the end of 1979’s summer, they had recorded a demo and changed their name to Josef K…

Gnod

Gnod are a psychedelic noise-rock collective from Manchester, England. Since forming in 2006, the group has had an ever-shifting lineup of multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, but some of the group’s key members have included Paddy Shine, Chris Haslam, Neil Francis, and Marlene Ribeiro. Along with their roster, Gnod’s music has constantly evolved and morphed, ranging from hallucinatory Krautrock-influenced folk to dubby, acid-drenched post-punk…

Nazareth

Scottish hard rockers Nazareth dominated the airwaves in the late ’70s with the biting rock anthem “Hair of the Dog” and the enduring proto-power ballad “Love Hurts.” Emerging in 1971, the band found mainstream success in 1975 with the release of their platinum-selling fifth album, Hair of the Dog. Despite numerous lineup changes, the group remained prolific and popular in Europe throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and continued to tour and record into the 2000s…

Luke Bell

A little bit honky tonk and a little bit Texas, with healthy dashes of Bakersfield and vintage Nashville, singer/songwriter Luke Bell recorded in a throwback style, but wrote from his own well-traveled experiences. A native of Cody, Wyoming, the former ranch hand put in a few years of college in Laramie before the music bug caught hold and took him first to Austin…

The Walkmen

From the wreckage of mid-’90s indie rock hype victims Jonathan Fire*Eater, the Walkmen rose at the turn of the century as major players in the New York City circle of post-punk/new wave-inspired bands (also including Interpol, the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and others). Setting the Walkmen apart from the outset was a heavy reliance on piano and organ, and a preference for atmospherics over garagey antics, courtesy of their self-built Marcata Studios…

Ronnie Self

Why Ronnie Self never made it as a performer is one of the great mysteries and injustices of pop music history. He had the look and the sound — a mix of country, rockabilly, and R&B that sometimes made him sound like a white Little Richard, but mostly like the young Elvis or Carl Perkins — and he wasn’t lacking for good songs, which he mostly wrote himself. He should have been there, thought of in the same breath as Perkins or Jerry Lee Lewis; instead, he’s a footnote in rock & roll history outside of Europe, where he’s treated as a legend…

Shelby Lynne

Marty Wilde

England in the late 1950s had its share of rock & roll stars — Cliff Richard was the most successful and the late Billy Fury is still revered by those aware of the music. In between them, chronologically, stands Marty Wilde. He grew up in Greenwich, in southeast London. The son of a professional soldier, he lived in various parts of England throughout his childhood. He reached the middle of his teen years living in London, just at the point that Lonnie Donegan, playing in a jazz band run by Chris Barber, had jump-started the entire skiffle boom…

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