On Monday we began to rank British bands.
The initial intro discussed the genesis of the story. Now it must said that the selection process was ugly as this is the part of the list where as music lovers, we all got in our feelings a bit.
Sales stats, lineage, the number of classic albums and influence all came into play with our panel. But like any good debate, we walked away with something that we are extremely proud of.
So while some burn at the exclusion of a band like Yes, its understood why they stand on the cusp of the Top 50.
This week, Salute pays tribute for the artistic stride British bands made across the pond.
The United Kingdom has something to say.
Classic rock radio would not be the same without the staples” Slow Ride” and “I Just Want To Make Love To You.”
Deeply rooted in distorted blues and soul, Foghat was formed in 1971 by “Lonesome” Dave Peverett (guitar/vocals), Tony Stevens (bass), Roger Earl (drums), and Rod Price (guitar).
Throughout the 70’s and beyond Foghat has mined subtle success. The London band has notched eight gold records, one platinum and a double platinum effort.
As road dogs, lineup changes became a part of their drill and with that has come slight shifts in sound over time.
In the 90’s Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin convinced the original band to pull it back together which resulted in the Return Of The Boogie Men LP.
Sadly, this century hasn’t been kind to Foghat. Peverett died in 2000 from complications from kidney cancer. Price died in 2005 from a fall due to a heart attack. Their primary bassist Craig MacGregor is currently battling lung cancer.
Though Foghat pushes on to this day, it is with a revolving door of musicians that have ties to other classic rock units.
#39 The Pretenders
The English-American rock group is led by Akron, Ohio native lead singer-songwriter/guitarist Chrissie Hynde.
Hynde was involved with early versions of The Clash and The Damned and played in such short-lived bands as Masters of the Backside and the Moors Murderers.
She went on to join James Honeyman-Scott (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), Pete Farndon (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Martin Chambers (drums, backing vocals, percussion) to form The Pretenders in Hereford, England, in March 1978.
Following drug-related deaths of Honeyman (1982) and Farndon (1983), Hynde and Chambers were the only two surviving members.
Shortly thereafter they linked with Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremner and Big Country bassist Tony Butler to record the single “Back on the Chain Gang.”
Hynde decided to create a much more permanent lineup, enlisting Robbie McIntosh on guitar and Malcolm Foster on bass, to record their third studio album, Learning to Crawl which also featured the hits “Middle of the Road,” “2000 miles” and a cover of The Persuaders’ R&B staple, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.”
Following their performance at Live Aid in 1985, Hynde felt that Chambers was no longer keeping up and kicked the co-founding drummer out. Foster soon followed, leaving behind the band over his difference of opinion regarding Chambers.
Over the years the band has worked with such artists as including Carlos Alomar, the late-Bernie Worrell (P-Funk, Talking Heads), Eurythmics bassist Chucho Merchan, and The Smiths guitarist/producer Johnny Marr.
By 1993, Hynde had teamed with ex-Katydids guitarist Adam Seymour to form a new version of Pretenders, working with several musicians on the album.
However, by the end of the sessions, the line-up changed to Hynde, Seymour, Hobson, and returning drummer Martin Chambers.
In the early 2000s the band worked on a project with Emmylou Harris and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Their 2008 album, Break Up the Concrete, was the band’s first Top 40 album in the US in twenty-two years, and its last prior to 2016’s Alone.
#38 Roxy Music
Glam rock pioneers, Roxy Music, got their start in 1971 when Bryan Ferry, who became the band’s lead vocalist and principal songwriter, teamed up with Graham Simpson (bass), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy Mackay (saxophone/oboe), and Paul Thompson (drums/percussion).
Former members also included Brian Eno (synthesizer /treatments), Eddie Jobson (synthesizer/violin), and John Gustafson (bass).
The band temporarily went on hiatus in 1976 and again in 1983 and ultimately reunited in 2001. They continued to tour between 2001 and broke up in 2011.
In addition to being known as pioneers of glam rock, they were significantly influential in the early English punk scene and provided a model for many new wave acts while innovating elements of electronic composition.
#37 Judas Priest
Don’t let their biblical sounding name and matching outfits fool you, these guys are the definition of British Steel.
The name, Judas Priest, originated from the Bob Dylan song “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.”
The band was first originated in 1969 by Al Atkins (lead vocals), Bruno Stapenhill (bass), John Partridge (drums), and John Perry (guitar). Perry eventually was killed in a suicide-related car accident and the group disbanded by 1970.
The second incarnation of Judas Priest was created soon after, when childhood friends Kenny “K. K.” Downing (lead guitar) Ian ‘Skull’ Hill (bassist) and John Ellis (drummer), agreed to join Atkins and Judas Priest.
But by 1973, financial difficulties and problems with management led to the departure of Atkins and drummer Chris Campbell. It was then that Hill’s girlfriend at the time, suggested her brother, Rob Halford join the band as the lead vocalist… and the rest is history.
Halford’s operatic falsetto and the band’s twin guitar playing made them major influencers in modern rock and metal music.
Apart from being considered heavy metal pioneers, Judas Priest were highly controversial for their lyrics.
In 1989, they were at the center of a highly publicized lawsuit, accused the Brit headbangers of adding subliminal messages in their song, “Better By You, Better than Me,” which parents claimed led two young men to attempt to commit suicide. The case was eventually dismissed and the band absolved of any false accusations.
# 36 Siouxsie & the Banshees
Lead singer-songwriter Siouxsie Sioux and bass guitarist Steven Severin started the post-punk band in 1976 and in just two years dropped their debut album, The Scream, produced by Steve Lillywhite. By the time their fourth album was released, Juju, they started to become known for their gothic appearance and new wave sound.
Their music was inspirational to a great many artists including Slowdive, Garbage, PJ Harvey, Courtney Love the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Scissor Sisters to name a few.
35) Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand is one of an infinite number of bands that were formed at a party…kinda. Principals Alex Kapranos (lead vocals/ guitar/ keyboard) and Paul Thomson (drums/ backing vocals) linked in a social setting and went on to play in the short-lived Yummy Fur which yielded the relationship that turned into FF.
Originally joined by Nick McCarthy (guitar/ keyboards) and Bob Hardy (bass), the band played musical chairs with their players recently settling on Paul Thomson Dino Bardot (guitar) and Julian Corrie (keyboards/guitar).
McCarthy left the band due to focus on family as the band unleashed their furious anti-Trump swipe “Demagogue.”
As a leader in the international post-punk scene, the band has scored big time with hits such as the stomping “Take Me Out.”
With their next chapter yet to be written, Franz Ferdinand is certain to move up this list in years to come.
#34 The Chemical Brothers
The Chemical Brothers left a mark on music long before the electronic duo were bound for international super-stardom.
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons first got their start as The Dust Brothers. This is not to be confused with the American production duo responsible for bringing us the Beastie Boys’ classic Paul’s Boutique as well as several other major hip-hop albums.
In June 1995, they released their fourth single, their first as The Chemical Brothers. “Leave Home” was released on Junior Boy’s Own, which became the duo’s first hit single, charting at no. 17.
Since then they have had six number one albums and 13 top 20 singles, including two number ones.
Electric Light Orchestra aka ELO is currently experiencing a revival. Leader Jeff Lynne announced in November that the band was heading out on its first U.S. tour in 35 years.
The reaction was nuclear as the feverish demand has forced the band to add additional dates to the arena trek in several locations.
At a time when legacy acts are playing in clubs and worse, what has given ELO such staying power?
It could be the Birmingham band’s creative arrangements that wrap themselves around craft harmonies.
Simply put, Lynne and ELO has mastered the art of sounding like no one but themselves while coloring inside the lines of good old fashioned songwriting.
Along with 10 handfuls full of members that have come and gone, Lynne has joined an exclusive club with 50 million albums sold.
Not bad for a band that many labeled as Beatles knock-offs back in the day.
Let’s face some cold hard facts here. Pulp occupies such a lofty position on this list because they were influential and really, really good.
They are not here because principal Jarvis Cover (vocals/guitar) and Candida Doyle (keyboards), Russell Senior (guitar/ violin), Mark Webber (guitar/ keyboards), Steve Mackey (bass) and Nick Banks (drums) sold a massive amount of records globally.
They are just important because of the quality of their output that served as a measuring stick for their peers.
Yes, 10 million sold is nothing to sneer at but the units were moved over an extensive amount of time.
Attached to the vessel of the 90’s, Pulp actually formed in 1978 yet it took them over a decade to hit their stride.
1994 brought the Brit-pop mavens finest hour in the album His ‘n’ Hers in 1994 while 1995 brought a near-equal follow-up in Different Class in 1995.
With no less than two-dozen members that have served through various breakups, reconciliations and so on and so forth, Pulp left an undeniable mark.
In 2014 Pulp and filmmaker Florian Habicht dropped the documentary Pulp: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets.
Those that doubt their power should watch that required viewing.
Goth pioneers Bauhaus formed in 1978 and simply crushed the underground scene in the 80’s. With Peter Murphy (vocals), Daniel Ash (guitar), Kevin Haskins (drums) and David J (bass) at the helm, they created a blue print that is still emulated to this day.
Marilyn Manson, My Chemical Romance, Interpol and so many others would have walked different paths if it was not for the overt influence of Bauhaus.
Beyond their uniform and the dark undertones that they became known for lies a band that does not get enough credit for their adventurous spirit.
Who thinks of Bauhaus and recalls dub sounds and a taste of funk? Nearly no one and that is a shame because they played with those and other genres so well during their run.
“All We Ever Wanted Was Everything” maybe their go-to single but a trip through their Mask album will take listeners to a completely different space.
Murphy and Ash went on to have successful solo careers but together they sincerely made magic.