We all know the heavy hitter of classic rock, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Eric Clapton, to name a few but there must have been thousands of other great bands coming out around the same time right? Yes! Absolutely!
There were so many bands surfacing from the 60s-80s that got such little recognition! Labels were signing and pushing out records one after another during this golden age of rock and roll. If you weren’t getting signed to one of the major record labels, it was hard to get your name out there to the masses. In today’s article I am going to give you a top 5 list of my favorite lesser-known bands from that era. The list will be in no particular order.
If you’ve heard of these bands great for you! Leave your comments down below in the comments section!
What a name right? Owning a record store sure has it’s perks; one of them being the ability to pick up a random record that has a cool cover just to hear what it sounds like. This is exactly what happened to me when I first saw the cover art on Cold Blood’s debut album “Cold Blood” from 1969.
Do you like Janis Joplin? A fan of Tower of Power? You’re in luck! Cold Blood has a combination of a powerhouse Janis Joplin style vocals with a funky TOP (Tower of Power) rhythm. In fact, Cold Blood played at the Fillmore West in SF and was even recommended by Janis herself! If you like the gospel style Funk hits, Cold Blood’s first couple albums will be right up your alley!
The band dissipated in the late 70s never really reaching billboard top charts. It’s really unfortunate because with the combination of Gospel lyrics, Joplin-esq vocals, and powerful full band funk jams, you would think they would have more recognition than they do. With only ~30K monthly listeners on Spotify today, they’ve been forgotten but are certainly not lost.
If you find yourself in a record shop and you see one of the early Cold Blood albums on the shelf do not hesitate to pick it up and give it a spin!
The band is called Love. Founded in 1965, Love has a style and a sound that could withstand generations. Oftentimes described as Garage, Psychedelic, and folk– Love has that feel-good vibe that’s perfect for a chill day.
With incredible songwriter and leader Arthur Lee, the band came out with some early initial success, topping the top 40 hit “7 and 7 Is.” The band never really hit another top spot. My personal favorite from Love is the song titled “Everybody’s Gotta Live.” It’s a somewhat repetitive vocal loop that just hits the spot perfectly. Meaningful, powerful, and appropriate especially when considering the time period.
The band had several major split-ups and reunion attempts throughout the late 70s-90s but their hay-day will forever remain in the mid-late 60s. I would absolutely suggest giving them a try. With about 1 million monthly listeners today, they do have a larger following than most on the list. As a music appreciator, it’s all about the deep grooves.
It will be hard to locate a LOVE record at the local record store, but if you do happen to pick one up, cherish it.
Okay, this is where the music buffs come in to criticize the article. Yes, I know Blind Faith is legendary, so much so, in fact, they are one of my top favorite groups of all-time. They just aren’t ever brought up in any serious discussion of top band lists EVER! Judging by their monthly listeners on Spotify, the people agree.
For those that don’t know, Blind Faith was an early supergroup featuring Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech. What an exclusive class of unbelievably talented artists to be on a top 5 unknown bands list!
Here’s the craziest part, they only made one album! The self-titled “Blind Faith” album came out in 1969 and produced a few exclusive singles. “Can’t Find My Way Home” will forever be solidified in the history books of classic rock. The best part about starting off listening to Blind Faith is the direction it will lead you by following each band member’s insinuating careers. Take Steve Winwood for example. This guy has played in some of the most iconic bands in music history and has remained somewhat behind-the-scenes.
A band that has the sound you think of when you think of 60s rock with an added bit of progression would of course be Moby Grape. It shocks me that they, to this day, only have about 50K monthly listeners on Spotify.
Picture the beach boys if they had a bunch of hippy jam-banders in the group. Amazing guitar riffs, smooth west coast 60s vibe, and excellent harmonies. It’s a crying shame they didn’t have the same promotional backing that labels like Capital records could have given them. Shadowed by bands like Jefferson Airplane coming out around the same time, the potential for Moby Grape to be sitting atop the classic rock HOF list was there.
I would suggest searching a bit for some Moby Grape vinyl at your local thrift or record shop. You won’t be disappointed.
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Talk about a band with all the potential in the world coming out of — you guessed it — San Francisco in the mid 1960s. If you were around the area at the time there is no doubt that Quicksilver Messenger Service is one of your all-time favorite bands. But what happened to them?
The problem, I think, was the hard competition in the area at the time. Bands like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead were emerging in the same area and competing for the floor space at the Fillmore.
Quicksilver has a much more avant-garde garage band style with some experimental jazz tones. It was certainly novel at the time and sounds amazing today. Crazy to think that these were just kids making this music back then. Definitely pick up some Quicksilver and give it a try if you happen to come across it!
So there you have it! My personal list of unknown classic rock bands that definitely do not get the recognition they deserve.
Of course there are many more bands that could fit on a larger list of unknown or even under-appreciated bands and musicians, but at the moment I really don’t have time for that. Maybe sometime in the future I will expand upon them!
-Much Love, Ian Drake – Diversity Consignment