Love emerged from the Southern California folk-rock scene in the mid-1960s, though never achieved the fame of others in that milieu, such as the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. This song comes from their splendid 1967 album Forever Changes:
Between 1968's classic Truth album (with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood) and Beck's solo (and much more jazzy) smash Blow by Blowin 1975, Beck and the much reconfigured Jeff Beck Group (Stewart and Wood were long gone) did not enjoy as much success, but the wonderful German rock music show Beat Club captured this live version of their best number during the doldrum years (that's Max Middleton on the piano):
Moby Grape was the San Francisco/psychedelic band overshadowed by the Jefferrson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and Quicksilver Messenger Service, among others, but they produced two very fine albums in 1967 and 1968 (and to the extent they are remembered it's for this tune from the debut album, "Omaha"). But here's a great number from their second album:
In 1969, Humble Pie had one quite famous member (guitarist and vocalist Steve Marriott, formerly of the Small Faces) and one later to be very famous member (Peter Frampton), but their debut album, of which is the title song, enjoyed a lukewarm reception (though I commend the whole thing to any fans of this series):
Lennon's least successful solo album, Some Time in New York City, was Lennon at his peak "radical chic," but it also featured a number of Yoko Ono compositions, of which this might have been the best (lyrics aside ["There may not be much difference between Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon if we strip them naked"]):
This hard rock/blues rock trio came out of Florida, their debut album, from which this tune comes, produced by Rick Derringer. The guitarist Floyd Radford was, alas, hired away by Edgar Winter not long after the first album (he subsequently played with Johnny Winter as well). But this is one of several strong numbers from the one and only album by the original lineup featuring Radford.
Philosopher Nick Smith (Sydney) kindly tipped me off to this great Australian band that never really made it outside Australia, though "the Masters" (as they were known locally, no apostrophe!) had several top 20 hits in Australia from the mid-60s through about 1971 (e.g., this lip-sync version of "Turn Up Your Radio" from 1970)--they started as more of a "garage rock"-turned-pop band, though by the time of 1971's fabulousChoice Cuts(from which both tunes below come), they had a different hard blues rock sound, more evocative of Ten Years After (think A Space in Time) (Choice Cuts was, in fact, recorded in late 1970 in London). Nick Smith recommended the live version of "Michael" from Choice Cuts, which is definitely worth a listen:
And here's another one from that album that caught my fancy, "I'm Your Satisfier":
Individually none of these three were obscure--they found fame with Cream (Jack Bruce) and Mountain (Leslie West & Corky Laing)--but their brief early 70s career as a "super trio" is generally (and not wrongly) forgotten, but this is one of a handful of strong numbers from their debut album in 1972 ("Turn Me Over" and "Pleasure" from that same album are also worth a listen--both feature Bruce on vocals, unlike "The Doctor" which features West.)
Part of the British blues explosion of the late 1960s, Savoy Brown enjoyed some modest success in both the UK and the US circa 1969-1972, before three members of the band (Dave Peverett, Roger Earl, and Tony Stevens) left and went on to greater fame and fortune in the mid-1970s with Foghat. This tune was re-recorded by Foghat, but this is the Savoy Brown version.
The late Keith Emerson's first successful band, the progressive/psychedelic band The Nice debuted with its best album The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack in 1967, but this tune was actually a b-side from a single taken from that album and released in 1968 (the a-side was the song "America"). Although successful in the U.K., they never broke into the American market. Emerson left the band in 1970 and went on to greater success worldwide joining forces with Greg Lake (who died last week) and Carl Palmer:
This English progressive hard rock band enjoyed some modest success in England in the early 1970s, before drummer Carl Palmer went on to greater fame and fortune with Emerson, Lake & Palmer; organist Vincent Crane continued on at various intervals, though with far less success. This was not their biggest "hit" in the UK, but it is their best tune in my opinion, from a 1970 album, but performed on the German show Beat Club in 1971 (with a new drummer):
The English rock band Uriah Heep were almost superstars in the U.S. and U.K. in the early-to-mid-1970s ("Easy Livin'," "Stealin'"), before fading away (by 1979, when I saw them, they were reduced to being the opening act for Jethro Tull), though they were huge superstars and remain quite popular in Norway, Finland, Germany, and Japan, among other countries. This was the "classic" line-up with David Byron on vocals (before he drank himself to death), Ken Hensley (on slide guitar) and Mick Box (the other guitarist, and the only continuing member of the band), doing a song from a 1971 album.
Grand Funk, the unpolished American version of Black Sabbath, was, once upon a time not at all obscure, selling out Shea Stadium in New York some 45 years ago more quickly than the Beatles had six years earlier. But it was downhill from there, as they churned out saccharine pop hits in the early and mid-1970s, abandoning the rock 'n' roll Rausch that made them a sensation in 1969-1971. This is representative:
Another group of British studio musicians brought together as a band (think Thundermother or, of course, Led Zeppelin), but who went nowhere, but did record this fabulous number (it's also followed by a decent instrumental number from their debut album):
This Greek psychedelic/progressive band was formed in 1967, and included two members who went on to later fame (Vangelis [who became internationally known for composing the score for the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire] and Demis Roussos, who had a successful solo career [though not in the U.S.] from the 1970s onwards). The band enjoyed some popularity in Europe, but never made it in the U.S. This is from their third album:
Everyone knows that staple of "classic rock" radio, "Funk #49," from the James Gang's 1970 Rides Again (one of the best rock albums of that era), but how many know its precedessor from the 1969 debut album by Joe Walsh's first band:
This Southern Illinois band should have made it big, but alas never did. Think Canned Heat meets the Allman Brothers. Their whole debut (and only) album is worth a listen, but this is the standout (concluding) number.
Foghat was a sensation in the mid-1970s (they even inspired the parody-turned-musical-commodity Spinal Tap later), but this live version of "Slow Ride," with the wonderful slide introduction, is less-known (the video and audio quality is not great, alas):
Judas Priest isn't obscure in the world of rock 'n' roll, but their second album, from which these two songs come, is (relatively speaking). I'm not much for the later Judas Priest, but I always liked this pair of songs:
From the band Taste in the late 1960s, through his solo performances into the 1990s, the great Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher was a "big name" throughout Europe, but never got the same level of recognition on this side of the Atlantic. A fabulous rock, blues and slide guitarist, as well as phenomenal stage performer, these two versions of one of his live staples, the "Bullfrog Blues," give a fine taste for those not familiar. The first, from 1976, is a live performance on an old BBC show, in which each member of the band gets his moment in the spotlight:
The second version was recorded live in Montreux, France in 1980, and is several minutes shorter, because it's all Rory (and the audience):
This Welsh heavy metal trio never made it big in the U.S. (though Metallica's 1998 cover of their 1973 "Breadfan" song gave them more visibility), though they continue to have a steady following in Europe (with vocalist/bassist Burke Shelley being the only continuing member). 1975's Bandolier was their best album, but 1997's Best of Budgie (not to be confused with two earlier "best of" collections!) gives you all the most memorable tunes from that album plus a few others (also from early-to-mid 70s albums). Like the early Judas Priest, they often have a strong sense of melody--especially during the interludes that often follow the main riff--and I find them quite listenable in a way that I can not abide the "heavy metal" of the 1980s and after.
An American hard rock/blues outfit, started in 1969 by ex-Vanilla Fudge members Tim Bogert (bass) and Carmine Appice (drums). Led Zeppelin without the polish or the really memorable original songs, but anyone fond of the genre should check out the Cactology collection.
This mostly British band (with one American, Gary Wright--of later "Dream Weaver" fame in the mid-1970s) never achieved the success it deserved with its mix of progressive, hard blues rock, and psychedelic themes in its music. Greg Ridley the bass player went on to join Humble Pie. This tune comes from their fabulous second album.
This proto-punk band out of Michigan in the late 1960s has always had a bit of a cult following ("kick out the jams, motherfuckers!"), though this later number is less-known (though apt for the Independence Day weekend in America, where the ruse even has a Presidential candidate the MC5 couldn't have conjured):
And for those wanting a more typical MC5 number, here's a live 1970 performance of "Ramblin' Rose":
Reportedly Jimi Hendrix's favorite single of 1967, it flopped in the UK, though this Scottish band went on to have a number of hits (mostly in the UK) that were decidedly more sugary pop than this terrific psychedelic number:
It doesn't get much more obscure than the one-and-only album by Universe, recorded on the spur of the moment in Norway after their van broke down. The whole album, with echoes of Cream, Traffic, and Ten Years after, is classic British rock-blues, with a countrified edge. Here's one standout tune:
Another English band to come out of the hard rock/blues explosion, whose most famous representative was Free; this tune is from their second album. Members of Trapeze later went on to join better known outfits in the 1970s, such as Deep Purple and Judas Priest. This is from their second album, Medusa, which has a couple of other good tunes, but this is the standout:
The British band The Pretty Things were a bit less obscure in the UK in the mid-1960s (remembered, if at all, for this "British invasion"-style single [think the Kinks circa 1964]), but by 1968 they'd turned into a progressive/psychedelic band, whose "rock opera" of which this is the memorable title song was, alas, a commercial flop. But this is a nice tune!
These Brits are not quite as obscure as some of the others recently featured, but they hardly achieved the success they probably warranted. Psychedelic, "progressive," even some British folk influences. This is one of my favorite tunes by the band, though their first album, Music in a Doll's House, is probably their best, though their second album, from which "Emotions" comes, is quite good too. It's downhill after that, however!
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)