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20 Most Underrated Rock Albums

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by David Schultz

In sitting down to compile this list, I had to first figure out what exactly constitutes an underrated album. It doesn’t seem like it would simply be a great record that didn’t sell well. In that case, the Velvet Underground’s entire catalogue would be considered underrated but given the near unanimous critical approval those albums receive, they can’t truly be considered underrated. Conversely, it also doesn’t seem that it would be a poorly reviewed record that sold millions. I don’t think under any set of criteria the Titanic soundtrack or any Spice Girls album could or should be called underrated. After much thought, the definition became simple: an underrated album is a record that discerning musical fans should have in their collection but for some reason the majority of them don’t.

So, in no particular order, here are the 20 most underrated albums:

George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (1970)

In the aftermath of the Beatles, John Lennon had classic albums like Imagine and Plastic Ono Band, Paul McCartney had Wings and Band On The Run and Ringo had . . . well, Ringo had Barbara Bach. The silent Beatle’s solo career, like his stint in the most famously analyzed and studied of bands, was dwarfed by the attention paid to Lennon & McCartney. However, that is not to say that George does not deserve mention with his more acclaimed band mates. Harrison’s first true solo effort is unquestionably his most triumphant. The three album set showcases the musical chops that weren’t able to fully flourish with the Beatles. The record’s success comes from its combination of White Album era songs like All Things Must Pass, fresher material like What Is Life and Wah Wah, Dylan covers and collaborations like I’d Have You Anytime and If Not For You and My Sweet Lord’s inadvertently borrowed melody. It is the third album of the set though that is the icing on this cake. Foreshadowing the jamband scene by a good decade or two, the album’s finale consists of George and the band, which consisted of Eric Clapton and Dave Mason on guitar, Billy Preston and Bobby Whitlock on keyboards and Ringo on drums, working out puzzlingly named extended grooves like I Remember Jeep and Thanks For The Pepperoni. An underrated album by the most underrated Beatle.

Pete Townshend: White City – A Novel (1985)

If this was a Who album instead of a Townshend solo album, it would rest comfortably with the classic rock mainstays of anyone’s collection. Like most conscientious rockers in the late eighties, Townshend was against Apartheid and chose to combat it as only he could — with his sarcastic wit and killer guitar licks. Using the structure that worked so brilliantly on Quadrophenia and Tommy, Townshend tells yet another story of alienation and oppression, this time set in a segregated county that is a thinly veiled South Africa. Townshend’s voice is a perfect fit for the restrained fury of White City Fighting and Brilliant Blues. However, it lacks the power necessary to push other tracks like Give Blood and Secondhand Love into the pantheon of true arena rockers. Fortunately, Townshend knows that people aren’t buying his albums to hear him sing and the album is peppered with his signature guitar. True Townshend junkies will not be disappointed with the album’s last track Come To Mama. An added bonus: since the mid-eighties was a fertile period for rap, Pete unabashedly gives it a shot on Face The Face. White City pulls of the difficult task of possessing a sense of importance without becoming pretentious and it is without doubt, the most complete album of Townshend’s solo career.

SideBar: The Most Underrated Concept Albums: There is always a bit of a stigma attached to the concept album. Oftentimes, it is not undeserved. Usually, the artist has come up with some idea that he feels is so important and so monumental that one song will not do the idea justice, hence the concept must be spread throughout the entire album. In this attempt, the limitations of the artist as a songwriter and/or musician are laid bare for all to see. As Styx taught us with Kilroy Was Here, there is nothing funnier or more embarrassing than an earnestly put forth concept album that defies logic and reason. Fortunately, Green Day’s American Idiot revived interest in the concept album by conjuring up images of Quadrophenia and demonstrating that a wonderful work of art can be created when the concept is carried out successfully.

The top 5 underrated concept albums (again in no particular order: 1) The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Genesis (1974); 2) Joe’s Garage – Frank Zappa (1979); 3) Southern Rock Opera – Drive By Truckers (2001); 4) White City – Pete Townshend; 5) Jethro Tull – A Passion Play.

Big Head Todd & The Monsters: Midnight Radio (1990)

Big Head Todd’s true debut album should have made them superstars. With half of the tracks recorded live on stage and the other half recorded in basements and living rooms throughout their hometown of Boulder, Colorado, the band successfully channeled their laid back sound, which is reminiscent of John Hiatt at his finest, into their most intimate record. The resulting album is the perfect soundtrack for a late night summer drive on a wide open road with the convertible top down. The first 2/3 of the album presents the band in their finest element, rolling through amiable, jangling tunes like City On Fire, The Leaving Song and Dinner With Ivan. In subtle contrast, the album closes with a trio of achingly contemplative songs, Monument In Green, Ann Arbor Grandfather and Elvis, that showcase Todd Park Mohr’s ability to captivate an audience with simply a guitar and naked emotion. The standout track on the album is undoubtedly Bittersweet. Even 15 years later, the intro to this song will make a live crowd explode and the brilliantly restrained guitar solo Mohr unleashes near the close of the song is quite possibly one of the more underrated solos in rock. Where some bands follow their astounding debut album into oblivion, this album shows why Big Head Todd is still recording and touring 15 years later.

Goo Goo Dolls: Hold Me Up (1991)

Before the Goo Goo Dolls began one of the most horrific descents into mediocrity and morphed into the sappy lite-rock charade of a rock band they are today, they were one of the best garage bands on the planet. I kid you not. Though it may be hard to believe now, this trio from Buffalo, New York used to be favorably compared to the Replacements. Spin magazine paid this album the highest compliment it could think of when it called Hold Me Up the album for the pathetic loser in all of us. Quite frankly, there is no better album to get you through an ugly break-up than this one. The album consists of mostly of three minute songs with Johnny Rzeznik’s thrashing guitar dominating throughout. Knowing that the Goo Goo Dolls were capable of “fuck you” lyrics like Two Days In February’s “I know you’re living way out west/don’t get me wrong I’m not impressed/ with you/ no more,” three chord sonic assaults for the defeated like Laughing, There You Are and Just The Way You Are (absolutely no relation to the Billy Joel song) and kick-ass covers of the Plimsouls Million Miles Away and Prince’s Never Take The Place Of Your Man, makes their MTV friendly, mopey soft rock like Isis and Name that much more maddening. Given what they became, Hold Me Up may go down as the most underrated album ever.

Stone Roses: Stone Roses (1989)

This was the album that brought the Manchester sound to the forefront of musical culture. Although bands like The Soup Dragons, Jesus Jones and Inspiral Carpets tried, none got it better than the Stone Roses. Starting with a fundamental base of psychedelia, the Roses mixed it with danceable funk (Fools Gold), cascading guitar riffs (Waterfall) or flat out U2 like pomposity (I Am The Resurrection). Immediately following Waterfall, the band reverses the audio track and creates a new song, Don’t Stop, over the reversed loop. The album also possesses a wicked sense of humor, calm soothing melodies come complete with some of the most frightening and threatening of lyrics. On Shoot You Down, Ian Brown, with the emotional range of a serial killer, gleefully describes that he’d “love to do it and you know you always had it coming.” One of the album’s highlights, an adaptation of Simon & Carbuncle’s Scarborough Fair that transforms the innocent ditty into an ominous ode to assassinating Queen Elizabeth. Oh yes, they could also play it straight (I Want to Be Adored). Sadly, this album is the only worthy testament to the greatness of The Stone Roses. Shortly after its release, the band became involved in numerous lawsuits that frustrated the release of their follow-up album for close to 5 years. By the time the pompously named Second Coming was released, the magic was gone. Indicative of the group’s importance, without the Roses at the forefront, the Manchester movement withered and died. Unlike the albums of their Manchester brethren, the Roses debut album holds up years later and deserves proper recognition.

Richard Thompson: Rumor and Sigh (1991)

Richard Thompson is one of those musicians that have been around forever and you’ve probably heard his name mentioned once or twice before but can never seem to recall why you recognize the name. Thompson was a founding member of Fairport Convention and left the band with his wife Linda in 1971. Richard & Linda Thompson recorded a pair of wonderful albums, Shoot Out The Lights and I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight, which would be on this list but for the fact that the two albums are critical darlings. Without the angst and turmoil provided by his ex-wife, Thompson’s solo career never skyrocketed. However, the karmic forces aligned when he recorded Rumor & Sigh. His songwriting, always sharp, is at its best here. There is swagger on Feel So Good, British charm on God Loves A Drunk and wizened confusion on Grey Walls and Read About Love. The album’s masterpiece is the bizarrely romantic love story of James and Red Molly that centers on a 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. I defy anyone to listen to Thompson’s delivery of James’ final words to Molly and not feel a chill down their spine as he gives her one last kiss and dies, but gives her his Vincent to ride.

Traveling Wilburys: Volume 1 (1988)

In 1988, George Harrison started work on a new album with producer Jeff Lynne in Bob Dylan’s garage. Over the course of the recording sessions, neighbors Tom Petty and Roy Orbison drifted over and common interests being what they were, they all started recording together. Adopting pseudonyms and declaring themselves all Wilbury brothers, they recorded an album that brought out the best in all of them. The Wilbury songs expressed fragility (Handle With Care), reflection (End Of The Line) and a sense of humor (the Springsteen “homage” Tweeter & The Monkey Man). The alter-egos seemed to give the Wilburys, especially Dylan, the freedom to relax and the songs possess a freewheeling sense of fun often missing in their “real-life” recordings. The spontaneous feeling prevails throughout the album, which is also notable for being one of Roy Orbison’s last recordings before his death. Given the star power here, it is amazing that the Wilburys aren’t a staple of what’s left of classic rock radio.

SideBar: The Most Underrated Benefit Show: Farm Aid 1985. At some point during his unintelligible set closing the Live Aid show in Philadelphia, Bob Dylan told the crowd that he thought it would be nice if we gave a million dollars or two to the American farmers to help pay off the mortgages on their farms. As might have been expected, this pissed off Bob Geldof to no extent. However, it caused John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson and Neil Young to coordinate Farm Aid, the first major follow-up to Live Aid. Taking place on September 22, 1985 in Champaign, Illinois, without heavy promotion and without even a major TV deal, (the fledgling Nashville Network had no penetration back then), Farm Aid boasted a pretty serious line-up. In addition to the founding musicians, Billy Joel, Tom Petty and Lou Reed appeared as did the major country musicians of the time including Alabama, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and the Charlie Daniels Band. Of course, Bob Dylan lent a hand and more satisfyingly played a relatively coherent set. Don Henley, who was huge at the time following the release of Building The Perfect Beast, closed the show with a set that eschewed Eagle classics and featured The Boys of Summer and Sunset Grill. Most noteworthy from the show was Van Halen’s first public performance with new lead singer Sammy Hagar. Unfortunately, the conclusion of their set was only seen and heard by the live crowd as radio and TV abruptly cut away when Hagar uttered a curse word from the stage. Hagar did however, leave both breasts covered.

Allman Brothers Band: Back Where It All Begins (1994)

After a seven year hiatus, the ABB reformed in 1989 with Warren Haynes and Allan Woody joining Gregg Allman, Dicky Betts and the rest. Back Where It All Begins is the last studio album of this version of the band as Haynes and Woody left soon thereafter to devote their time to their side project, Gov’t Mule. Without doubt, this album ranks with the strongest of post-Duane, ABB studio albums. Most notably, the album contains the first appearance of the Warren Haynes classic Soulshine, which if recorded in a different era would be one of the rock classics of all time. Gregg Allman invests it with the withered soul that illustrates the magic that occurs when a song and singer are perfectly matched. There are also the instrumental heavy Southern rock jams that the Allmans are known for. The title track and Sailing Across The Devil’s Sea are not only highlights of the album but mark the high point of the Allman Brothers version 2.0. Given that the Allmans back catalog is filled with some extraordinarily groundbreaking recordings, Back Where It All Begins, coming as it did in the nineties, is unfairly overlooked

Robert Randolph & The Family Band: Live at the Wetlands (2002)

This album has the potential to come off this list at some point in time as Randolph has the potential to be one of the saviors of rock and roll. Not only does this record capture one of the final performances at the Wetlands, the jamband Mecca of New York City, it also captures one of the most exciting musicians of the 21st century in the relatively fledgling stages of his development. Robert Randolph has been accurately described as the Jimi Hendrix of the pedal steel guitar and this Live at the Wetlands is proof that the comparison is far from gratuitous. Wetlands features long extended jams that give the band, especially Randolph, the opportunity to show off their chops. Ted’s Jam breathlessly kick starts the album, building up to crescendos usually found in a band’s encore rather than their opener. The band’s gospel origins are evident in the soulful Pressing My Way and the rollicking Tears Of Joy, but they come front and center on the penultimate I Don’t Know What You Come To Do. With a chorus right out of revival meeting, Randolph with the persuasion of Baptist minister, declares that that he’s come to clap his hands and stomp his feet and the crowd is right there with him. This album, capturing Randolph in his infancy, could be his Beatles in Hamburg – so it may not be underrated for long.

Ted Hawkins: The Next Hundred Years (1994)

Ted Hawkins spent the majority of his life as an obscure but talented singer and guitar player. Although he had a bit of a break in the late 60’s, his career evaporated in a haze of heroin and multiple stints in jail. By the early 90’s, Hawkins had become one of the many street musicians that populate Venice Beach, California. Remarkably, Hawkins became one of the most popular buskers with people coming from miles around and waiting hours to hear him play. Michael Penn (a/k/a Mr. Aimee Mann) was one of those people and in 1993 he persuaded executives from Geffen Records to get Hawkins off the street and into the studio. Hawkins finally relented and the resulting album, The Next Hundred Years, is astounding. Primarily accompanying himself on guitar, Hawkins invests original songs like The Good And The Bad and Big Things and covers of There Stands The Glass and Biloxi with an aged and knowing voice. With the exception of some strings added post production, this album is purely Hawkins and his guitar – and it is absolutely fantastic. Upon its release in late 1994, the album received extraordinary reviews but relatively little airplay. With his guitar in tow, Hawkins went around the country doing radio interviews and studio performances, mainly on free form radio and miraculously, the album slowly started to sell. Tragically, within weeks of the albums release, Hawkins died and he never got to enjoy the well deserved adulation he received for his wonderful album.

Dread Zeppelin: Un – Led – Ed (1990)

As the name would imply, Dread Zeppelin was a band that played nothing but reggae versions of Led Zeppelin songs. Interesting concept, eh? Oh yes, their lead singer was an Elvis impersonator named Tortelvis. Long before studio technicians were mashing up songs, Dread Zeppelin was mashing up genres in an acid fueled blender with tongue firmly in musical cheek. However, the joke carries through the entire album – and carries well. In the past decade there have been reggae homages to Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, but none show the same reverence for their subject as Dread Zeppelin. From the introductory Black Dog, which includes a nice segue into Hound Dog, through a version of Your Time Is Gonna Come that stands comparison to the original to the closing drum beat of Moby Dick, the album stands on its own as a “reggae” classic and not as a one-off joke. Given the bizarre concept, Un-Led-Ed is an easy album to overlook and underrate.

Jimmy Cliff: The Harder They Come (1973)

Reggae 101 involves the purchase of Bob Marley’s Legend, listening too it numerous times, getting a brightly colored Marley T-shirt and then declaring that Jah Love, you are a fan of reggae. The upper level course in reggae involves the soundtrack to The Harder They Come. Although the lions share of acclaim for reggae’s widespread success rightly goes to Marley, it is Jimmy’s The Harder They Come that first brought reggae music to the forefront of the collective musical consciousness. The 1972 film, which is reggae’s Citizen Kane, was primarily responsible for introducing reggae to the U.S. and tilled the soil for the release of Marley’s debut album, Catch A Fire. In addition to The Harder They Come, the soundtrack has other classics like Many Rivers To Cross and Sitting In Limbo. The album contains Toots & The Maytals brilliant renditions of Pressure Drop and Sweet & Dandy as well as Desmond Dekker’s take on Shanty Town. Even though the Rivers Of Babylon in this collection isn’t sung by Cliff, the Melodians do it justice. Sadly, there seems to be room for only one legend leaving Jimmy Cliff to remain reggae’s unsung hero.

Pink Floyd: Meddle & Animals (1971/1977)

Meddle and Animals get grouped together in one selection as they are the most underrated albums of a group whose ubiquitous catalog can be found in just about everyone’s CD collection. Pink Floyd are played on classic rock radio with the same frequency as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Who. However, if your only exposure to Floyd came from the radio, you wouldn’t be faulted if you thought Pink Floyd’s entire career consisted of Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. With Meddle, the band introduced the trippy aural psychedelic sound that would soon become the band’s trademark. The songs vary considerably: menacing guitars on One Of These Days, airy flowing riffs on Fearless and San Tropez and standard blues on Seamus, an ode to an old hound. Foreshadowing Dark Side by at least two years, the album closes with the 18 minute-plus opus Echoes that ranks with the greatest Floyd has to offer. In 1977, two years after Wish You Were Here, Floyd’s returned to the realm of long extended tracks with Animals. The band’s paeans to Dogs, Pigs and Sheep marked Floyd’s last true trip to the psychedelic realm they are renowned for. Are these albums truly underrated? Well, the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll omits discussion of Meddle and unfairly relegates Animal’s significance to the inclusion of inflatable pigs in their stage show.

Tin Machine: Tin Machine (1989)

This is the one album that would be impossible to overrate. It didn’t sell well and was reviled by practically every music critic. Critics hated his album – not just disliked it, but hated it – like it kidnapped their mother or killed their dog – or both. For those who don’t remember, in 1989 David Bowie renounced his solo career and formed a band with guitarist Reeves Gabriel and Soupy Sales’ two kids. The eponymously titled album that followed was a dark, gloomy and downbeat affair. After releasing a handful of chirpy and insubstantial records in the 80’s, (Let’s Dance, Blue Jean) the heavy guitars was a drastic change for Bowie. Bowie fans should always be prepared to expect the unexpected from the thin white Duke, but no one seemed willing to accept Bowie as part of a band, especially this band. But here’s the thing, looking back on this album, the simple fact is it wasn’t that bad – in fact, I will stand alone on the island and proclaim that it was actually pretty damn good. In the 70’s Bowie had an edge to him that vanished sometime in the 80’s. Save for a misguided cover of Lennon’s Working Class Hero, which was a grand idea but somewhat failed in its execution, this album gave Bowie the roughest non-glam edge he’d had in his career. Underappreciated in its time, it deserves a better legacy.

Sting: Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985)

This album is the actual point where Sting moves from post-punk god to adult contemporary mainstay. Disconcertingly, he did it with style. Moving 180 degrees from the Police, Sting did so in daring fashion by gathering a band of accomplished jazz musicians that included keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, drummer Omar Hakim and saxophonist Branford Marsalis, long before Jay Leno “discovered” him. The songs on Blue Turtles are a bit heavier than the breezier fluff Sting has churned out over the past 20 years but they work and are eminently listenable due to the expert musicianship involved. Plus, you can’t hate a song like Shadows In The Rain that starts with a howling “Woke up in my clothes again this morning/Don’t know exactly where I’ve been.” It is easy to diminish Sting’s solo legacy as the car commercial fodder but his first foray into jazz fusion worked extraordinarily well. Good trivia note here as well, Eddy Grant, of Electric Avenue fame, contributes conga drums to Consider Me Gone.

Van Morrison: A Night In San Francisco (1994)

A night at a Van Morrison show nowadays is a risky proposition. For usually $70-$80, Van will make you show up early, cut off beer service when he takes the stage and most nights, play for just over an hour. Even worse, he will consciously omit any of his hits and force the audience to sit through plodding versions of sub-par recent compositions or covers from the 30s. However, that wasn’t always the case. A Night In San Francisco captures everything that is great about Van Morrison. Without being a “play the hits” show (for that listen to It’s Too Late To Stop Now), Van shows why he is “the Man.” With a band that is likely more at home than a jazz club than an arena hall, Morrison rolls through a couple of his classics but also ventures into the slipstream with long extended versions of songs that move from James Brown and Sly & The Family Stone soul classics through blues staples like Stormy Monday and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl and even includes a hip rendition of My Funny Valentine. Without question, this is the best Van Morrison album in the past 25 years.

The Kinks: One For The Road (1980)

If this list was created in the mid-eighties, there is no way this album would be included as it was the biggest live album of that time. Well, with the exception of Frampton Comes Alive. Capturing the Kinks in the heyday of their live performances, it is the rare live album that provides the hits along with other lesser known favorites without ever hitting a down note. In between definitive and iconic versions of Lola and Celluloid Heroes there are raucous readings of Low Budget, Superman and National Health. Even more amazing, Ray and Dave Davies get through the entire album without once attempting to physically assault each other. The Kinks are often overlooked in any discussion of the British Invasion, which is a shame. Although the CD version is an edited version, it is still a worthy reminder of why the Kinks were the Prince of the Punks.

Elton John: 11-17-70 (1971)

It may be hard to believe nowadays, but Elton John was once the biggest rock and roll star in the world and at the time it was well deserved. This album, which shows why Elton deserved such status, comes from a November 17, 1970 concert that took place at a recording studio in New York and was broadcast live on WABC-FM. Although released after Tumbleweed Connection, it was recorded beforehand and contains rough but amazing versions of Burn Down The Mission and Amoreena. From the moment, he bangs out the intro to Bad Side Of The Moon to start the show, it is evident this is not your parents’ Elton John. As an added treat, Elton breezes through a honky-tonk rendition of the Stone’s Honky Tonk Woman and manages to slide in and out of the Beatles’ Get Back. This is an Elton John that most don’t remember existed, stripped of the flamboyant costumes and snarky anti-paparazzi behavior, Elton was truly one of the great rock pianists of all time.

Blues Brothers: Briefcase Full of Blues (1978)

If you want to know what keeps this album out of the comedy discount bin, just check out the picture of the band that comes with the album. When Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi created their labor of love to blues and soul music, they gathered musicians that would lend credibility to the effort. In Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Matt Murphy. Lou Marini, Bones Malone you have some of the musicians that created the Stax/Volt sound that defined the music the Blues Brothers revered. Recorded live before a surprised audience who came to see Steve Martin at the Universal Ampitheater, the album succeeds because Akyroyd and Belushi were serious about this effort, willing to walk off of Saturday Night Live when the two projects conflicted. Letting the music take the forefront, Briefcase Full of Blues revived interest in classics like Soul Man, B Movie Boxcar Blues and Hey Bartender. Even though Belushi delved deep into the Jake Blues persona, his comedic timing couldn’t be contained on I Don’t Know, a hidden classic from this album. The movie with soundtrack that came afterwards are worthy ventures in their own rights but never would have occurred if this album was not rock solid. John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd will long be remembered for their comedic roles, but this album should not be overlooked as part of their rich legacy.

Body Count: Body Count (1992)

This album never had a chance. With in weeks of its release, the controversy over its last track, Cop Killer, overshadowed any honest rational consideration of its musical merits. The album didn’t charter any new musical territory, that accolade goes to Living Colour, but it did blend rap with heavy metal long before Kid Rock discovered the recipe. Plus, Body Count did it with a harder grittier edge. Originating as a side project, Ice-T rapping in front of a heavy metal band was something new and unique. Before the controversy broke, Body Count had been touring the country as part of the original Lollapalooza to some acclaim. There Goes The Neighborhood and Body Count – it was a song, the band, the album – created funky metal right about the same time Rage Against The Machine was ready to break. References to police shootings aside, the album possesses a sense of humor with its sly take on black culture working its way into white America’s as well as Ice-T’s touching ode to his Evil Dick.

If this list causes any of you to go out and purchase, download or acquire in any manner whatsoever even one of the albums listed above and you enjoy it, then I can only inappropriately quote Bob Geldof when I say “don’t tell me this doesn’t work, don’t let anybody tell you this doesn’t work.”

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About JD

  • ThePrisoner

    I would mention Sunflower by the Beach Boys. 1970. Recaptures
    Some past glory every
    Track contains the last great effort of group harmonies. Well produced. Tunes like Forever, Slip on Through, This Whole World and Cool Water are as good as any track they made. I held off buying their post SmILE stuff, but this is their last great moment.

  • TouchdownSeahawks

    I definitely agree with All Things Must Pass, Meddle, The Harder They Come, Dream of the Blue Turtles, and Traveling Wilburys. Great albums.

  • vaughn

    very cool. I am taking your advice and downloading the goo goo dolls. ALL THINGS MUST PASS is without a doubt the most underrated album to date IMO… O and curious, not sure if you have listened to , but I would say iggy pops THE IDIOT is pretty underrated when you consider It sparked bowies berlin trilogy. (at least half in thanks to bowie). O and jerry garcias cats under the stars ! HOLY SHIT i listened today… WOW thats an incredible album

  • Mat

    Screaming Trees “Sweet Oblivion” is chronically underrated. Best 70s album you’ve never heard of is Leaf Hound’s “Growers of Mushroom” holy geez it’s good.

  • David Moose

    Interesting read, Thanks. I would like to add that ‘Dust’ by the Screaming Trees is a greatly underrated album too.

  • jeff

    what a fucking ridiculous article. You know nothing about UK music, shut the fuck up

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment on this eight year old article, you’ve really helped me see things in a different light….

  • bkenrose

    Ram :Paul McCartney // Mystery to Me: Fleetwood Mac // Midnight On the Water: David Bromberg // Let It Flow: Elvin Bishop // All the Young Dudes: Mott the Hoople // Fire on the Mountain: Charlie Daniels

  • bkenrose

    Ram Paul McCartney critics hated this album ; however after 40 years I still listen to this LP while Lennon’s Onoi Plastic Band I find tedious & kind of boring & Harrison’s All Things Must Pass sounds dated & monotonous now ; even though critics & myself loved these albums when they came out.

  • Mike

    Well, you inspired me to go out and get All Things Must Pass. Here’s my contributions:
    – Between the Buttons (Rolling Stones)
    This one has wonderful melodic experiments.
    – John Barleycorn Must Die (Traffic)
    So few people I know like this one. So few own it.
    – The Royal Scam (Steely Dan)
    Totally overshadowed by Aja. Still, just an incredible record.
    – A Saucerful of Secrets (Pink Floyd)
    THIS is psychadelic music. Never fails to make me happy.
    – 13 (blur)
    Always gets horrible reviews, but I positively love every second
    – The Unforgetteable Fire (U2)
    Loads better than the Joshua tree or Achtung baby
    – The Who Sell Out (The Who)
    Slips under EVERYONES radar…
    – Second Coming (Stone Roses)
    Universally hated, but great. Much more underrated than the critics fav: their debut.
    – Thickfreakness (The Black Keys)
    Raw, incredible, work of art. Barely charted, no one knows it. Makes me sad…
    – Dig Out Your Soul (Oasis)
    Why does everyone hate this? So many awesome, darkly psychadelic tracks!
    – Phosphene Dream (Black Angels)
    Haunting, beautiful, insane. Unknown.
    – Viva La Vida (Coldplay)
    It’s cool to hate coldplay, I know, but thats why this gem was totally ignored by the mainstream rock world.
    – The Inner Mounting Flame (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
    Nobody’s heard of this, which sucks. Instrumental talent you would not believe.
    – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (kasabian)
    No one likes kasabian, cause apparently they’re trying to be the next oasis. Well, this album is great.
    – Basket of Light (Pentangle)
    Fairport Convention gets all the glory, this is a superior album to anything they did.

  • Username

    Radioheads Pablo Honey.
    Most people like to say its more simple than any of their other work, just because they didnt use any sound effects or anything back than, but that isnt true. The dynamics are great, and the feedback is art. The best tracks are Blow Out, Anyone Can Play Guitar, You, Stop Whispering, Prove Yourself, Ripcord, Lurgee, and Vegetable. And yeah, thats most of the album.

  • Lester Bangs’ ghost

    How about “Happy Birthday”? I’m not sure who wrote it.

    I re-named the article to “Out of the 1% of mainstream bands that I’ve heard of, here’s the most underrated albums from those guys”.

  • Craig W

    I’ve been listening to George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” all morning when it dawned on me to see if any one else thinks it’s a highly underrated album. Cheers…One of my all time favorites!

  • FX

    The kinks’ eighties albums are the most underrated EVER!

  • me

    next time please write the list in one page and stop wasting our time

  • BobbyJ

    Good call on Capt Beyond. Here’s some of my personal underrated and forgotten favs in no particular order…
    Kaleidoscope-Beacon from Mars
    Jon Anderson-Olias of Sunhillow
    Tim Buckley-Greetings from LA
    Beau Brummels-Bradley’s Barn
    Crash Test Dummies-God Shuffled His Feet
    Dead Meadow-Feathers
    Focus-Hamburger Concerto
    Gentle Giant-Power and the Glory
    Humble Pie-Town and Country
    Little Village-Little Village
    Outrageous Cherry- pick one
    Randy California-Kapt Kopter…
    Spirit-Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus (should be in top 10 greatest albums of all time)
    Spooky Tooth-Spooky Two
    The Tubes-The Tubes
    13th Floor Elevators-Easter Everywhere

  • dan420

    Where is the album “Sufficiently Breathless” by Captain Beyond? Rod Evans is one of the most underrated Rock and Roll singers of all time.

    And since when was any Pink Floyd album underrated?

  • John R

    Great list, my humble adds would be
    Moonswept, The Roches
    Amplified Heart, Everything But The Girl

  • scott bowker

    white city by townsend,no doubt his best solo album.i would add any pre buckingham-nicks fleetwood mac album,especially mystery to me

  • drachan

    The Boo Radleys – Giant Steps
    Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque

  • Freddy C

    Echo & the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain

    A masterpiece. Gets mention in random movies now and then, but I don’t see anyone talking about it online.

    Go listen.

  • Some pretty interesting choices including quite a few albums I have yet to hear. I am particularly interested in checking out the Elton John album … as I’ve always been kind of a fan of his but been put off by the schlockyness of what does. I can imagine … Well I’m beginning to ramble. What I mean to say is – Interesting list.

  • rob

    Jethro Tull-Passion Play
    Paul McCartney-Ram
    John Lennon-Mind Games
    George Harrison-33 1/3
    The Who-Sell Out
    David Gilmour-David Gilmour
    Jeff Beck-Wired
    Glass HArp-Glass Harp
    Moody Blues-In Search of the Lost chord
    Wishbone Ash-New England
    Anything by Buffalo Springfield
    Elton John-11-17-70(Live)
    Fantasy-Paint A Picture
    Grateful Dead-Aoxomoxa
    Kahvas Jute-Wide Open
    Roger Waters-Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking
    Rory Gallagher-Irish Tour
    and a shit load more….

  • M.G.

    I think “Surfer Rosa” by The Pixies is the most underrated rock album in history!

  • Greg Bailey

    What about “Creatures of the Night” by KISS!? That is a magnificient rock album in 82′ by KISS but only one of the songs on the album is really appreciated, “I Love it Loud”. But “I Still Love You” is an amazing song with unreal vocals by Paul Stanley, or “Keep Me Comin” which has a great guitar riff, or “Rock and Roll Hell” which still to this day amazes me that it wasn’t a hit.

  • MB

    Not complete without Grace by Jeff Buckley.

  • Tim Cole

    The album that comes to mind is “Songs of Faith and Devotion” by Depeche Mode. Terribly underrated, as is the song writing by Marting Gore. To me it’s a masterpiece.

  • SC

    For me, it’s Catherine Wheel’s “Adam and Eve”.

  • Aaron

    under rated?

    try any albums of Tygers of Pan tang, Tank and Angelwitch, before you call all this post modern and arty farty crap “underrated”

  • hattrick58

    I had to smile with your mention of the Spice Girls. Our daughter was a HUGE fan when she was a child. I thank God every day she outgrew that phase! She actually now loves the Beatles! Certainly “The Spice Girls” and “underrated” should never be used in the same sentence under any circumstances.

    My vote for the most underrated album: “Gretchen Goes To Nebraska” by the underrated Texas band “King’s X”! A true work of art.

  • Sergio

    Here are some underrated albums you should have put Seventh Star(1986)Headless Cross(1990)Tyr(1990) all of them from Black Sabbath it’s hard to choose one but give it a try.

  • Chris

    Chuck Berry is very underrated he should get credit for being the real king of rock and roll not that hack elvis.

  • troy

    And what about ARGUS by Wishbone Ash?

  • how about:

    Yes – Big Generator
    John Martyn – Glorious Fool
    Eric Clapton – August
    Marillion – Clutching at Straws
    Brand X – Livestock
    Tony Banks – A Curious Feeling
    The Police – Ghost in the Machine
    UK -Danger Money
    U2 – Zooropa
    Alice in Chains – Dirt
    Phil Collins – Both Sides
    Blue Nile – Hats

    and finally The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour (Walrus? Blue Jay Way? Strawberry Fields? their best record IMO)

  • Thanks for the list, I would like to nominate “World Anthem” from Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush or any other Mahogany Rush album. Have a listen, you won’t believe how underrated and overlooked this music is. It went over “all but a few” heads at the time. Frank is still on the road after all these years doing 3 hour shows and delivering in my opinion the most “well-rounded” approach to the guitar to date. If you are an aspiring guitarist and honest with yourself, a Frank Marino show will leave you asking many questions of yourself. It’s not only his power and technique, but his soul and emotion that leave the unschooled and inexperienced petrified.

  • Keith Trestrail

    I know the vast majority of the music audience out there are braindead or indoctrinated to the pop culture spin of record companies financed by Japanese industry and Arab oil. One look at some of the artists mentioned on this site leave no room for doubt.That’s why they churn out the crap they do. The most underrated album of all time by a slippery mile was Argus by Wishbone Ash. Pick up a copy if you get a chance. Scintillating stuff. Seminal stuff. A work of genius.

  • Burritobrother

    There’s a lot of under appreciated albums. Here are ten that immediately come to mind, in no order.

    * Canned Heat: “Blues Band” (1996)
    Popular belief is that Canned Heat were only vital during the ’60’s. This rock-solid electric blues effort from the ’90’s proves otherwise – I have them all, and this is the Heat’s finest, most authentic hour.

    * Mayhem: “Chimera” (2004)
    The most musically inventive but still utterly
    vicious black metal full-length ever, an extreme metal masterpiece that should appeal to music
    fanatics of every variety.

    * Passport: “Blue Tattoo” (1982)
    Not nearly as progressive as the earlier Passport jazz albums, but far more memorable. Stellar playing, beautiful melodies; a largely
    misunderstood classic.

    * Ringo Starr: “Choose Love” (2005)
    One of the greatest Beatles solo albums. Enough said?

    * Asia: “Arena” (1996)
    Few people ever took Asia seriously, but they never heard this brilliant gem. The Downes-Payne era produced the band’s finest work, of which this particular release is the very best.

    * Elvis Presley: “From Elvis Presley Blvd” (1976)
    For whatever reason, Presley’s later work is
    continually ignored. But this – his final all-new
    studio album – proves he was the King until the end. Perfect ’70’s country and pop.

    * Smoky Babe: “Hottest Brand Goin” (1961)
    Very obscure country blues, mostly known only by intensive blues historians. But this is tremendous
    music by a tremendous bluesman.

    * Tangerine Dream: “Mota Atma” (2003)
    Another obscure TD soundtrack, but this time out
    it’s all ethereal soundscapes. Eerie and highly
    progressive stuff from this awesomely consistent
    German outfit.

    * Flying Burrito Brothers: “California Jukebox” (1997)
    With all the constant Gram Parsons worship going
    on, the Burrito’s vast catalog beyond their fallen
    leader is denigrated if acknowledged at all. Too bad, as this may very well be the band’s finest

    * Charley Patton: “Complete Recordings”
    Ok, everyone with even a passing knowledge of blues history will call Patton the Father of the Delta Blues. Which he was. Plus, he was the greatest of the early bluesmen. Johnson learned at his knee. But how many people have actually listened to his entire recorded work? Under appreciated indeed.

  • Robert Garner

    How short is our collective memory. The most overlooked, and forgotten treasure is Sinatra’s “In the Wee Small Hours” from the fifties. An early “concept” album, way before the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper,” it contains some of the finest American music ever.

  • ben culbertson

    pretty nice list. the harder they come film is cool too. One of the most underated albums ever would be from the Cavedogs.”rooms for shut inns” check it out, if u can find it!!!!not to be missed

  • regal begal

    ok,another list,cool,here goes.10 in no particular order and reasons,who cares
    1.blind melon-blind melon
    2.dream theater-train of thought
    3.robert cray-some rainy morning
    4.paul rodgers-now
    5.salmonella dub-inside he dub plates
    6.iron maiden-dance of death
    7.orange goblin-frequencies from planet ten
    8.coda-there is a way to fly
    9.infectious grooves-the plague that makes your booty move
    10.joe satrianni-crystal planet

  • Steve Froehlich

    Pink Floyd’s album “Obscured by Clouds” is far more obscure than Animals or Meddle. It is just as good.

  • mike

    The best album never played is zepps Presence. Man that must have been some great heroin

  • Gord Cowie

    Am I too late to put in my vote for Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy.

    A great album from start to finish..

  • Andrew Elt

    It should be here a band called Bad Way with their album “From Zero to Hero”. This guys will be massive in few years.

  • Wagner

    Pink Floyd’s “Meddle”,is just passed over and basically ignored,even though it’s the album that influenced all Floyd’s following album’s with the epic track “Echoe’s”

    Ayreon,”The Human Equation”,Arjeon lucassen’s recent masterpiece of progressive rock opera,is massive,music does’nt get any more spectacular than this.

  • Derek Stone

    I’d agree with Liz Phair’s “Exile in Guyville”..Fucking beautiful record.

  • Good list. I’m with you on Stone Roses and Sting.
    I’d add Liz Phair’s first album.

  • Mark Movagh

    Thanks for standing up for Tin machine.

    I’m a huge Bowie fan, and I always felt that the critics were stupid and unecessarily cyncial about this group. I loved it back then and still do. Watch the video for “Under the God” there’s some great energy and stage presence…. I agree about working class hero, but the rest has stood the test of time.

  • I don’t like any of these albums.

    And most of the albums you all list are by huge, famous bands who made boatloads of money. I don’t think anyone can say that “Thriller” and “Born in the USA,” two of the highest-selling albums of the 80s and EVER, are underrated by anyone.

    That is all.

  • Here is one you forgot, “Meet The Partridge Family.”

  • Douglas

    Hey, somebody else likes the later goo goo dolls stuff too? Yeah, I like songs like “Name” and “Here is Gone” and I think they have made many solid contributions to Modern Rock. Just because they’re popular doesn’t make them bad.

  • sheldon

    1) The Who: By Numbers (1975) – guilt, sadness, rage, fear of irrelevance; what happens when you don’t die before you get old. (Pete T. was all of 30 at the time!)
    2) Gary Moore: Wild Frontier (1987) – ala U2, another view of 1980’s Irish life but told in his own distinct voice & guitar.
    3) The Professionals: I Didn’t See It Coming (1981) – Enthusiastic post Sex-Pistols stomp from Steve Jones, Paul Cook, and 2 other guys whose names I can’t remember. Great party album.

  • Enuff Z’Nuff s/t

  • LostSok

    Okay, two more:

    Alice Cooper – Muscle of Love

    Boomtown Rats – The Fine Art of Surfacing (especially in light of Live8)

  • Bennett

    Thanks Ms. Davis. The whole album is incredible. The only song that got air play (SF/Oakland) was “Boom Boom Out Go The Lights”, but holy moly what a misrepresentation of the musicianship that is!

    One of the top three live albums I’ve ever heard.

  • Unrequested? Yes. Unappreciated? Not a chance. Thanks for sharing; Pat Travers rocks.

  • Bennett

    Great list, fun reading! My unrequested addition to the “under rated” album list:

    Pat Travers – Go For What You Know

    “Stevie” is brilliant.

  • Yes, and I would add his Night and Day for good measure. Joe Jackson rules!

  • Oh, I could do this all day long! How’s about I’m the Man by Joe Jackson? Consider just the title track and “It’s Different for Girls” for starters.

  • This is a very interesting thread. I find myself asking the question “Is it underated? I’m not sure if it meets criterea…”

  • ashley larimore

    you’re right; Hold Me Up by the Goo Goo Dolls is underrated. i disagree with why you think it is underrated though. i strongly disagree with your opinion of the Goo Goo Dolls. i think they’re the greatest rock band out there today and they always will be.

  • crooked spine

    My $0.02:

    Stacked Deck – The Amazing Rhythm Aces

    Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy – Return to Forever

    Takin’ My Time – Bonnie Raitt

    The J Geils Band – their first album from 1970

    Devotion + Doubt – Richard Buckner

  • Small style correction: Remove the word “the” from the front of “Fairport Convention”, and deploy it to correctly render the title of I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight.

  • Vern Halen

    I thought this list had a lot of odd choices, but it’s a more interesting read that a list with the obvious choices.

    IMHO, add an obscure Guess Who album from the mid 70’s, Artificial Paradise.

  • Soul Coughing – “Ruby Vroom”

  • rod

    Okay, on reflection, I guess that “One For the Road” was probably a middling hit – but nowhere near as huge as you imply. By the way, I do like that record – it was current the first time I actually saw the Kinks, on my 21st birthday. Fond memories and all that.

  • rod

    Good list. I agree with many of your choices, esp. “Rumor and Sigh” and “The Next Hundred Years.” I loathe post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, but on a good day I will make an exception for “Animals” (which must mean it’s either their best record, or their worst). I hate the Tin Machine record, but I can certainly understand why one might love it.

    Two major quibbles – first, I’m not sure that “White City” is a comment on South Africa (not primarily, anyway – Townshend often works on multiple levels). Have you seen the movie? You should – I think it would change your interpretation of the album.

    Finally, you must have suffered a huge brain fart when you wrote that “If this list was created in the mid-eighties, there is no way [the Kinks’ “One For the Road] would be included as it was the biggest live album of that time. Well, with the exception of Frampton Comes Alive.” Wrong on so many levels: The record was not a hit, not even a minor one; “Cheap Trick at Budokan” was far and away the biggest live album of the relevant era (late 70’s/early 80’s, not the mid-80’s, given that “One For the Road” came out in 1980); and Frampton Comes Alive was actually released in the mid-70’s (1974, IIRC).

    My pick for this list: Husker Du, “New Day Rising.”

  • Ooh, yes, the John Hiatt you mention is soooo good. And the Springsteen you mention happens to be my favorite of all of the E-Street Band LPs. Spousal Unit wants me to mention the Grateful Dead’s Anthem of the Sun, which he considers shamefully underrated.

  • LostSok

    The Who – Sell Out
    Bob Dylan – Street Legal
    Leonard Cohen – New Skins For The Old Ceremony
    Todd Snider – Happy To Be Here
    John Hiatt – Walk On
    Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle
    Be Bop Deluxe – Ax Victim
    Jim Croce – The Faces I’ve Been
    Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf 7
    Aerosmith – Done With Mirrors
    Roger Daltrey – Ride a Rock Horse
    Scarlett Rivera – Scarlett Rivera

    Just to name a few….

  • Cool list; I actually have most of these. But Tin Machine? Dunno about that. And I imagine many if not most serious rock connoisseurs do have All Things Must Pass; George Harrison’s passing no doubt inspired many to pick up a copy if they didn’t have it already. A lot of critics consider ATMP the best of all the Beatle solo albums.

  • zeke

    Your parenthetical list of great concept albums should have included the wondrously melodic and empathetic “Arthur” by the Kinks. It was, sadly and unjustly, overshadowed by the subsequent release of the Who’s “Tommy.”

    As for underrated albums, how about “Veedon Fleece” by Van Morrison?

  • nugget

    confused: i’m trying to save your miserable British subsistence, and you bite the valiant hand that feeds you the grace your parents could never afford to give! repent and don’t look back…life itself is a purgatory for post rocknroll loyalists who saw the light. Just because physical growth manifested itself in you to look as if you were the same age mentally as everyone else doesn’t mean that your mind is not stuck in 9th grade.

  • confused

    Hey nugget, here’s a suggestion, try decaf and just a skosh less hatin’

    meth kills, n00b

  • nugget

    i have an idea. How about everyone here learn to tie your shoes in double knots, start enjoying your lives for a change, and kick-start a new existance with meaning and influence. alas i’m sure your parents (who surely distanced themselves from you and your puerile obsession with baseless social mutiny because you hate religious syntax from the ignorant masses) would be overjoyed at the site of you divulging your adolescent affinities and actually stop drinking cheap beer.

  • nugget

    does this mean i have to go buy all of these crappy albumns that no one has ever heard of just so I can comment on how i like a couple of the songs on the Kink’s one for the road? Does this mean that I have to pretend like I think those albumns are underrated, or think that I should care to type another letter as if i wanted to? well? do any of you +30 year-old hipster flower power drug abusers understand that rock and roll DIED? what’s with the nostalgia? you ALL need reevaluate who you are and that you havn’t shaved and that you shouldn’t have cheated on your first wife.

  • Yes, good to see notice of Tin Machine. There is a song on that album entitled “Under the Gods” I think. That is a chorus at least. that tune shreds.

    But my question is does Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Live at the Fillmore East (’69, I think) qualify as underrated? I dunno what the consensus is on that album. But if it rates low, it deserves a good rating. Otherwise a great album.


  • godoggo

    Continuing my last comment: leastwise that’s my recollection; it’s been ages since I heard it last.

  • Jayhawks Rainy Day Music
    Blue Rodeo Casino
    The Benjamin Gate Untitled
    Meat Beat Manifesto Storm the Studio
    Kris Kristofferson Kristofferson

  • Glad to see a few people, at least, enjoy Tin Machine. I think it came along at the wrong time. Had it come out mid-90s, it would have been heralded.

    Harrison’s final album, Brainwashed, is deserving of a LOT more attention than it seems to get. It’s like his somewhat lacking solo career in between was somehow bookended by two absolutely incredible albums. They’re both so good that they completely blow away anything the other ex-Beatles did and make him my favorite Beatle – regardless of so many albums worth of music that I simply cannot get into.

    And I even like Pete Townshend’s Psychoderelict. Get beyond the annoying story and there’s some killer music (or just buy the music-only version.) I’m a sucker for Townshend’s style of song-writing.

  • godoggo

    Moon Over Bourbon Street is pretty enough, but just a little too close to the old jam session standard Autumn Leaves.

  • Yeah can’t see Tin Machine…agree on Dream of the Blue Turtles however. I love ‘Moon Over Bourbon Street”.

  • I also could not stand Tin Machine. Where are the good tunes?

  • David,

    Interesting post, proving once again, if there was any doubt, that “List” posts are prime Comment fodder. Disagreement, snarkiness, cluelessness and “hipper than thou” in abundance… But, as I said, an interesting selection, some I know quite well, and some I either haven’t considered exploring or have forgotten about. Choosing underappreciated albums depends on the context of the listener, but it’s cool to see Tull’s “Passion Play” mentioned fleetingly. I agree it’s an excellent concept album, and I think the Rolling Stone Record Guide gives it one star, two tops!

  • I’d say it stopped being underrated the day it left the pressing plant.

  • godoggo

    I’d say the Harrison album stopped being underrated when he died.

  • godoggo

    The album in my collection that I think best fits the criteria is Richard Hell’s Destiny Street.

  • Good list, all of it. And I don’t care how hard any Lennon-head argues: All Things Must Pass was, and remains, the best Beatle solo album. Period.

  • Thriller by Michael Jackson, Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen, and Synchronicity by the Police — three “lost” classics, all well worth seeking out in the bargain bins of your better record shoppes.

  • Eric Olsen

    agree on Their Satanics!!

  • wvmcl

    “Their Satanic Majesties’ Request” by the Rolling Stones

    “Wild Tales” by Graham Nash

    “Spirit of ’67” by Paul Revere and the Raiders

  • ah fooey! it’s a great Kinks album…with an absolutely killer version of “Low Budget”.

  • This live Kinks album seems like somewhat a weak choice for this list. For starters, it’s not all that particularly outstanding, besides the fact that it’s a platinum album- at which point it’s hard to really label it underrated.

    There’s PLENTY of great underrated Kinks albums, though- particularly some of them concept album from the 70s. Your life is not complete without Schoolboys in Disgrace most especially, but also Soap Opera and Preservation, Act I.

  • Maynard

    Good call on the Tin Machine, a most excellent disc all the way through.

    add “The Reality of my Surroundings” by Fishbone

    “not a pretty girl” by Ani DiFranco

    “The End of Silence” by Henry Rollins Band

    There are plenty more. Too many good bands get overlooked because they are not “hooky” enough, or don’t fit mainstream concepts.

  • Rumor and Sigh!
    Rumor and Sigh!
    Rumor and Sigh!

    I could come up with a BUNCH of underrated albums, but just for starters you really, really need to hear TTD’s Vibrator.

  • Two most under-rated albums I can think of are:

    Riverdogs: s/t
    Thunder: Backstreet Symphony

  • SFC Ski

    Not much to argue with above. Overall, a great underrated album is one which has stood the test of time and you seem to be the only one who owns it, or has ever heard of it.
    I’d add the entire Smithereens collection to this list, but choose “Green Thoughts” if I had to pick one album.


    You are so right about the Goo Goo Dolls. They totally stink now, but their first two records were golden. And this album was on Metal Blade! Also, live, they were fantastic in their club days. Sadly, I don’t believe they ever toured with Cannibal Corpse.

  • Rob

    Couldn’t agree more with the Alman Brothers Band, Blues Brothers, Kinks, Pink Floyd and Pete Townsend albums. Actually, the entire list is great. Some of the albums I don’t own, but I always enjoyed. Fits right in there with your criteria.

  • Russ

    Huzzah for your choice of Richard Thompson’s ‘Rumour and Sigh’. And I do love ‘Meddle’ by Floyd . The other choices …may be underated for a reason…? But , just because they are not in my CD library doesn’t mean they’re not great…but then again… But you can never say enough good about RT !

  • Eric Olsen

    oh, and Meddle

  • Eric Olsen

    what an interesting and varied list, David, thanks. I especially like All Things (not sure how underrated it is, though), Stone Roses (certainly not underrated in the UK, but is here), Wilburys, Dread ZEp (!), They Harder They Come (one of the great albums of all time), Sting, and Blues Brothers

  • great stuff, Ear, but i simply cannot watch as The Stone Roses is declared “underrated”. Wonderful as that record is, it most certainly ain’t underrated. Sweet lord in heaven, a fella can hardly open a music magazine without finding some corner of some article or other reeling on about how transcendental the whole affair is. Every student bar in the country is STILL throbbing along to Fools Gold. in no way or no how is The Stone Roses underrated. The Second Coming, however, may well justifiably be included in such a list, but the ammount of critical jissom flung in the direction of that debut in the past decade could fill the marianas trench. but fine reading here, thats for sure.

  • Interesting list — lots of stuff here that I’ve never checked out (or given more than a passing glance).

    I love the Wilburys — and have heard them on the radio a fair amount (on classic rock revering Long Island), particularly “End of the Line.” It’s been a while since I’ve been a radio hound, so perhaps they’ve slipped.

    Anything Jimmy Cliff-related is brilliant.

  • I second the Stone Roses.

  • Let me add Joy Division “Closer” to that list.

    Oh gosh, here comes the long thread…I’ll think of more as the coffee kicks in.


  • Oh goodie, I like this sort of list. Great list. One I would add to the list is a Townsend creation also. Townsend/Lane “Rough Mix”. Pete and Ronnie came up with this outstanding piece of personal statements from the heart and soul in a rock/folk music type way.

    Good pick on White City also. “Judge the Judge”…lyrics I like from that album.


  • Nick S.

    Hold Me Up is a great album. I remember picking it up simply cos it had the Prince cover on it. I instantly got hooked on this group and picked up Jed a few days later.

    What a shame they’re such a crap group now.

  • JR

    Hey, great list!

    Thanks especially for having the ‘nads to list the Elton John album. That album is amazing – the ensemble musicianship reminds me of small combo jazz and it rocks like nobody’s business. Ben Folds built a career off of that album.

  • All Things Must Pass “underrated”? Jeez, it was nominated for a frickin’ Grammy and sold a kazillion copies; My Sweet Lord played 24-7 for years. Pink Floyd, Elton John, Traveling Wilburys, Pete Townshend – “underrated”? How ’bout Terry Knight & The Pack, Klaatu or The Cramps for underrated? The “underrated” music you listen to, mac, is as common and corporate as Coca Cola.

  • I meant lots of catchy pop punk tunes. It was a harder album than their recent yawn fests.

  • U got me hooked mentioning Hold Me Up by the Goo Goo Dolls. Lots of catchy pop tunes. A lost gem. Also agree with R.Thompson, Wilburys, Body Count, Jake and Ellwood, Van, Sting, Tin, Jimmy,Stone Roses, Big Head, George. The others I have not heard yet