The Beatles are probably the face of “Classic Rock”. The iconic band changed the face of Rock Music, but is it possible that their popularity overshadowed the popularity and respect several other bands deserved? This post will tell you about 8 such classic rock bands, and why we think they are unfairly underrated.
1) The Rolling Stones
It’s hard to think of The Rolling Stones as underrated, right? I mean, aren’t they one of the most famous and longest-running bands of all time? But when you closely consider how much impact they had on the industry and the classic rock genre, you’ll see why I think they don’t get as much credit as they deserve. Consider the ’60s British Invasion. And even though The Beatles often get all the credit for that revolution, the Stones deserve much more recognition for their place in that era and decades after.
And if you’re not convinced about the amazing sound and rhythm of this band that rocked our world for five decades (even though it’s impossible not to be), the writing prowess of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards gave us some of the biggest and most iconic rock songs in the history of music.
Even as you read this, I’m sure you can replay the beautiful melodies and vocal beauties they created. The Raspberries undoing was the decision to choose great music over popular sound. For some reason, people didn’t just want to listen to their music. It wasn’t always that way, though. They did have some success early on. Their inability to win the hearts of audience saw them quit the music scene in 1974. A 2004 reunion (30 years later) wasn’t enough to get them back on track.
The Raspberries got some level of recognition with their 1972 hit “Go All The Way”, especially when it adorned the blockbuster movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. You may also be quick to point out its feature in one episode of HBO’s short-lived series, Vinyl. However, much of the group and the magic they created have been forgotten by most of us. We feel that the band was just mostly misunderstood, not just by the public but also by their own record company. For us, it’s the reason we think they are one of the best bands to ever walk the face of the earth.
Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page are some of the gifts the Yardbirds blessed the world with. Those three are still considered some of the most electrifying guitarists that world has ever seen. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, the band became very influential in the 1960s and remained so until the end. They were fearless and experimented with various styles including Psychedelic rock and punk. The London band had Paul Samwell-Smith, Anthony “Top” Topham, Jim McCarty, Keith Relf and Chris Dreja to thank for their success.
4) Grand Funk Railroad
On a typical 1970s day, stadiums would be sold out just to watch Grand Funk Railroad perform. For most fans, it was Mel Schacher’s thundering bass; for others, the raw and powerful lyrics of Mark Farner sent chills down their spine. And yet there are those who simply could not believe the incredible talent of Don Brewer, the band’s drummer. Do you remember the classic Simpson’s episode, Homerpalooza? Perhaps, that is the only form of reference we have seen or heard in recent time. Truth be told, they were popular among fans, but very unfairly dealth with by music critics.
Tunes like “Some Kind of Wonderful” may pop up occasionally on classic rock radio, but this is simply scratching the surface compared to the cultural reevaluation that the Grand Funk Railroad deserves.
5) April Wine
Never heard of April Wine? No? That’s strange. For a rock band with more than 20 albums to this day with some gold and platinum success to their name, one would wonder why they are not as famous as their music was successful. It’s simple, the native Canadian rock band are mostly overshadowed by other acts like The Typically Hip (not that the latter was any better in our opinion). Well, maybe not back in the ’70s when April Wine was dishing out some of the best rock tunes the world has ever heard to this day. Songs like “Say Hello” and “Roller” will probably forever be a reference for the younger generation.
6) T. Rex
You’ll probably remember T. Rex for just one song, Bang a Gong (Get It On), the 1969 electrifying string magic. Although their biggest hit, that is not the only great song the group released (as radio stations will have you believe). Their influence was both musical and cultural. Guitarist and singer-songwriter, Marc Bolan had an on-stage persona that was both outspoken and gender-bending. The group, which began music with psychedelic folk before transitioning to electric sound would go on to have a pretty short run following a car crash that killed Bolan in 1977.
Talk about the Mellotron, Sitar, Harpischord and brass sections, no one did it better than the English rock band, Traffic. In fact, compared to them, the Beatles would rank low when it came to experimenting with different instruments. And that is one thing the Beatles seem to get a lot of credit for; their supposed fusion of everything. Why won’t Traffic get more recognition then? The Traffic era gave birth to the fusion between Jazz and Rock, using great songs and catchy hooks.
They did earn some respect, but when you consider the level of recognition other psychedelic bands enjoy (compared to whom Traffic produced better music), you’ll see why records like the 1970 John Barleycorn Must Die deserves way more accolades than it ever got.
8) The Kinks
Let’s talk about history a little. One of the first ever rock songs to successfully use guitar distortion was The Kinks’ early hit song, “You Really Got Me”. Their undoing was the rise of the Beatles as the biggest rock band the world over and the gradual death of the British Invasion’s first wave. They did produce amazing music even till the mid-1970s, but the recognition we thought they deserved dwindled with time.
You may hear a few of their songs in rotation on classic rock radio, but such pop ups do not do justice to the dozens of albums The Kinks produced in their heydays. They were not only among the earliest pioneers of heavy metal and hard rock, but have also inspired several other great acts like The Clash and Oasis, to mention a few. When we talk about the history of riff-based music and the Beatles come up, The Kinks should certainly come up in such conversations.