Underestimated, song, artist or group '' gems'' ?

In any category of music you choose ( pop, opera, jazz, rock, folk - whatever ), I would like to find out about ''hidden gems'' - artists, groups or even songs and music that are not widely known or appreciated....you could include songwriters too.

I just feel that part of the excitement of discovering new music can also include past unknown gems that would be worth listening to....

Some of my ''underestimated'' favorites :

Many Elvis Costello tunes
Leonard Cohen's songs
Symphonic ''re-arrangements'' by Leppard in baroque music
The group ''Blue Rodeo''
The group (now extinct) Soul Attorneys - incredible, worth seeking out (Sony Music)
Either most of the artists on my list are long forgotten or not recognized by the masses. The asterisks indicate the artist generally used good recording techniques, IMHO. If very few recordings merit playing on your system then don't bother looking. These aren't audiophile examples. Just good, solid, enjoyable music.

Jesse Colin Young.* Especially the album Heart And Soul Of A City Boy.
Al Kooper. I really like the album Super Sessions.
Dreams. This is very early Brecker brothers. Two albums were released by this group.
John Prine.*
Leo Koettke.*
Very, very early Fleetwood Mac.*
Karla Bonoff.*
The Byrds' song, Chestnut Mare.
Gram Parsons.
Gene Parsons.
Souther, Hillman Furry Band.
Greg Allman Band.* Especially Laid Back.
Leon Russell.*
Try streaming KNBA radio (KNBA org). It features artists under the radar of commercial stations. It also has David Dye's world cafe which is an excellent source of new artists that I use.

There is a lot of great music out there. A couple of my current favorites are Greg Brown, a fantastic singer-songwriter and The Tragically Hip, who are huge in Canada, awesome, and sorely underappreciated in the US.
I always thought the Joni Mitchell tune "Urge for Going" was a great song that was never on any of her record albums, and released as a single only. Many Joni fans have never heard this song. It is one of her best IMO.

Gentle Giant "In a Glass House" album was never released in the United States, and is one of their best albums(Prog-Rock). It is hard to get because there is some kind of legal mumbo-jumbo that is in the way. You can order a copy on CD from the Gentle Giant website though. The LP is very rare in the US.

Solution "Cordon Bleu" is another Prog-Rock album that is hard to get, and quite good. You can get it on CD, but you have to search a bit. Was originally on the Rocket Label LP and not released in the US.

BB King "Indianola Mississippi Seeds" LP is a rare one that has a killer version of "Hummingbird" featuring BB, Carole King, and Leon Russell.

Khachaturian Violin Concerto on Mercury Living Presence LP is about the best violin recording I know about. It has a haunting emotional gypsy-style that is very nice to listen to. It features Henryk Szering on violin. I think Dorati is conducting. Hard to find, and could be expensive.

25 Years of Jazz on Atlantic is a double LP set that features many Atlantic jazz recording artists from the pre-1975 years. There is one tune on there by the Mitchell-Ruff Trio called "The Catbird Seat" which has a very unique piano styling that I never heard before, and like alot.

There's another double LP set called "The Paul Desmond Quartet-Live" that has some of the most quintessential Paul Desmond sax artistry that I've ever heard on there. If you are a Desmond fan, this is a record for you. Very "3 o'clock in the morning and near closing time at the club" kind of stuff.
Interesting you mentioned Blue Rodeo, I'm a big fan of them (and they are excellent in concert too). I've extolled the virtues of Blue Rodeo (contry-rock stuff) and The Tragically Hip (intelligent and interesting rock) many times on this board but I have this feeling very few folks have taken the time to give them a listen.

I would suggest for those who haven't seriously considered Frank Zappa's music, take a moment and browse through his catalog. Rock, classical, jazz... pick your poison. Brilliant man, he's sorely missed.

Midnight Oil is an interesting rock act, politically driven lyrics in a straight ahead rock style. Wonderful band live. I would consider Midnight Oil and The Tragically Hip as very similar in fact.

I never really gave Tom Cochrane much credit until I purchased his box set, man he wrote a lot of really good tunes over the years!

There's a bunch of groups I enjoy but I'm not sure if other's are aware of them or not? Collective Soul, The Tea Party, Bruce Cockburn, Crowded House, The Fixx, Live, Our Lady Peace, Rough Trade, Saga, Simple Minds (early stuff).

I gotta get back to work! Jeff
Chris Whitley. He is quietly generating a large body of work. Good songwriter, great guitarist. The two albums I recommend are his first "Living with the Law" it got some airplay in the mid 90's and his last entitled " Hotel Vast Horzion". Enjoy...
Anything by Madredeus (Portugese band).
Anouar Brahem's, Le Pas du Chat Noire (Oud, Piano and accordian).
Deb Talan's two albums (Folksy female vocals and inteligent poetic lyrics - wonderful voice)
Richard Buckner, Devotion + Doubt, and Bloomed (a bit of a country western feel, but very original lyrics and music)

Great Big Sea, from St. John's Newfoundland
The Lowest Of The Low
Tragically Hip (Great call Steelhead!)
String Cheese Incident
The David Nelson Band (yes - David Nelson from the New Riders Of The Purple Sage)
Moxy Fruvous
Queens Of The Stone Age
Rilo Kiley
Pete Namlook
John Fahey
Global Communication
Michael Stearns
Steve Roach
Sleater Kinney
Rabbit In The Moon
Luke Vibert
Nick Drake
Anton Bruckner. Came close but not close enough. Still one of my favorites.
I'm amazed at how many people have never heard of Richard Thompson, Geetar Gawd! Old or new, his work is beautiful.

Another favorite is Sam Phillips, the singer, not the producer, though she is married to a producer - T Bone Burnett. Fan Dance is excellent and Classic Records has two of her older works available on 24/96.

Mark Knopfler - Flying to Philadelphia
Catie Curtis - My Shirt looks Good on You
Pearls Before Swine (Tom Rapp) - anything
The BoDeans
Precious Bryant - blues
Otis Taylor - blues
Dread Zeppelin - Un-Led-Ed (a real hoot!)
I must have been waiting for this thread! These are songs/pieces that can move me. Here's my list:

Most of Stan Rogers (folk category):
Album - 'Fogarty's Cove' / Songs - "Fisherman's Wharf", "The Wreck of the Athens Queen"
Album - 'Between the Breaks (Live)' / Songs - "Barrett's Privateers", "Witch of the Westmorland" & "The Mary Ellen Carter"

Judy Collins: Songs "Sunny Goodge Street" & "I Think It's Going To Rain Today"

Pentangle: Song "The Trees They Do Grow High"

Leo Kottke: particularly the albums "6 & 12-String Guitar" & "One Guitar, No Vocals"

J.J. Cale:
Album - 'Special Edition' (best songs) / All especially songs "Crazy Mama", "Lies" & "Don't Cry Sister"

Robbie Robertson: 1st Album S/T

CSN &Y on '4-Way Street' - "Cowgirl in the Sand"

Quicksilver Messenger Service: Albums - either 'Happy Trails" or 'Sons of Mercury' (Greatest Hits)

It's A Beautiful Day: Song "White Bird"

Jussi Bjoerling & Robert Merrill - "Au Fond du Temple Saint" (duet from Bizet's 'The Pearl Fisher')

Bach - Concerto for Two Violins (Heifetz) RCA

Jean-Pierre Rampal/Lily Laskine - Japanese Melodies (maybe the most relaxing music I've heard)

Don Williams: Song "Good Ole Boys Like Me"

Charlie Pride: Song "Roll On Mississippi"

That's a start...
October Project: Intense, sincere female vocals
Sunday's "Blind": Exceptional rock energy (forget sequals)
Batdorf & Rodney: Solid writing/performance. Usurped in "Steven Stills wannabe" critics purge.
Dust "Hard Attack": So-so production stunted their career -should have been Valhalla's house band.
Todd Rundgren: Anything after "Hello It's Me". Everything great up to "Second Wind". Known as "Musician's musician".

Jade Warrior "kites"
Bruce Cockburn "High Winds White Sky" "In the Falling Dark" "Humans" "Joy will find a Way"
Happy the Man
on ECM: Steve Tibbits "Safe Journey" Terje Rypdal "Decendre" Kenny Wheeler "Knu High" Ralph Towner "Solo Concert"
Oregon on Electra, "Roots in the Sky" in my opinion one of their best but a poor quality U.S. pressing, I never see it on import vinyl.
Mickey Newberry - Frisco Mabel Joy
Folks have recorded over 400 covers of his songs. This album is heartbreaking. I've loved it for 30 years.
I second J.J. Cale and The String Cheese Incident.
Sonicbeauty, I don't know how old you are (I'm 38) but give Steve Forbert a listen. His cd "American In Me" (1998)is one of my all-time favorites. It's strong and great songwriting on it. I second The Tragically Hip recommendation. Beth Orton has some great stuff out too! I you're lookin' for something more current check out Interpol, a band out of New York (think Echo and the Bunnymen meet David Bowie).

Oh well back to work (this is fun though)!
i cant believe i am saying this but the lisa marie presley
disc is great good recording good performance i saw her live and she sucked was really surprised how much i enjoyed the cd ted thanks
I'd echo Synthfreak's recommendation of Nick Drake. Especially 'Pink Moon'. Timeless (even though it's over 30 years old).


XTC- Nonsuch
Peter Gabriel - Passion
Budd/Eno - The Pearl
Michael Brook - Cobalt Blue
Talk Talk - Colour of Spring
Lou Reed - Magic & Loss
Miles Davis - In A Silent Way

Additionally, the ECM catalog is littered with gems.

Burton Garr - Mighty Long Road
This is the blues artist the record stores in the Big Easy listen to. Find it, buy several copies and share with friends. Easliy the best find I've made in 5 years.
I second the Richard Thompson nomination. Although he has even been nominated for a Grammy or two, the average music fan has never heard of him.

I'll also nominate John Cale. He's been consistently over-shadowed by Lou Reed in terms of both popular and critical appeal, but for my money his post-Velvet work has been much stronger than Reed's.

And how about Graham Parker? The forgotten member of a remarkable late 70's new-wave triumvirate (along with Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson), his body of work is arguably the best of the three (although admittedly less adventurous). Yet he has no profile at all in the States, and most of his albums are out of print.
Three pop/r&b nominations:

NRBQ - Yes, they have their devoted grassroots legion, but it's criminal that they never got much mainstream attention. I don't remember EVER hearing an NRBQ song on broadcast radio. And they have to be one of the hardest working bands on the planet.

Francis Dunnery - Apparently had more of a following in the UK from "It Bites" - but he's a bloody great guitarist (touring back-up for Robert Plant and Santana among others), and his solo career essentially went nowhere. You'll hear "My Own Reality" and "Too Much Saturn" on radio occasionally, but all of his albums that I have (Fearless, Tall Blonde Helicopter, and Let's Go Do What Happens) are definitely keepers.

The Pooh Sticks - Deserved to be huge (but weren't).
I appreciate TWL' s mention of Urge for Going, which was just about first song I learned to play on guitar back in 1968. I was playing Tom Rush's arrangement. He was an inspired scout of great songwriting talent (Joni, Jackson Browne, James Taylor) and not a bad interpreter of the songs, either.
Joe Beck. Try his DMP recordings from Acousticsounds. You could probably get all of them for under ten bucks. Play close attention to his Back to Beck cd. Best acoustic guitar playing ever. Also try his new release Trio. Go to Joe Beck.com for a demo.

As mentioned earlier, living in Buffalo, we do get to hear the Hip quite often. Tragically Hip that is.
That's where I "got Hip". I grew up in WNY, and still have family and friends in the Queen City and get there a lot. Got Direct TV's NFL Sunday Ticket so I can get my weekly Bills fix too.
neat thread

lots of great stuff mentioned

Bob Green era Fleetwood Mac
Suzanne Vega last two
The Flaming Lips old stuff - The Soft Bulliten
Continental Drifters - Vermillion
Costello - Imperial Bedroom
The Butts band. Robby Krieger and John Densmore(post Doors) were in this band. They only put out two albums in their history. You can get both on one cd from Amazon, it's called the "Complete recordings". This is great music. The first half is more rock/r&b, while the second half is more soul. There is a different lead singer for each half/album which may account for the somewhat different styles. The sound is decent. Victrola "Live as you Like", jazz/show tune sounds from Austin Texas. You can get this from Waterloo records. The music and sound are great. Garland Jeffreys "Ghost Writer" if you can find it, otherwise "Wild in the Streets"-Best of 1977-1983 that came out recently. The Music is great, a hodge/podge of rock, reggae, blues, and soul with Garlands commentaries on society. Also from Austin, John Dee Graham "Hooray for the Moon." You can get this from Waterloo, or maybe locally as our Best Buy has it. This is hard country music with a little mexican influence thrown in. He and his partners play some loud electric guitar and he covers and sounds something like Tom Waits. He plays all the time at the Continental club in Austin. I saw his live show and it was great! The cd doesn't do him justice compared to live. The sound is good but in your face. Greg Brown, kind of laid back folk/blues from up here in MInnesota. Everything he puts out is good such as "Further in", "Poets game." He has a new one out plus a compilation. Highly recommended for good laid back music and dynamite storytelling. Really good sounding, he's got a deep voice and nice mellow guitar.
For rock: Procol Harum.
For more folk/rock/pop, I agree with Lugnut about Karla Bonoff. I'd add Richard Thompson to the list.

For classical: the Korean soprano, Sumi Jo, is out of this world.
FAIRPORT CONVENTION!!! Now in their 37th year with 23 studio albums and many live recordings to their credit. They will be in the studio next month working on an as-yet untitled release which will be out this summer. Many musicians have passed through their ranks but the band has experienced a relative stability since they rose from the ashes in 1985 with Gladys's Leap.
Sonicbeauty: The solo piano track (trk 10 I believe) on Leonard Cohen's "Future" CD is fantastic...the rest of the CD is not so bad either. Also, if anyone's interested, checkout my posting on "looking for new genres...". Cheb i Sabbah's "Khrishna Lila" I think is different but a gem nonetheless.
Linkster... have you heard any of the Fairport remasters?
Cpdunn99....yes, I own the Full House remaster. It is definitely worth getting even if you own the original CD release. But as innovative and groundbreaking as Fairport was over 30 years ago, I must confess that I prefer the newer studio material. The band has a very different sound now, a more acoustic feel with perhaps somewhat less emphasis on the traditional material. The sound of the band with 30-40 years of professional pedigree under the belt is wonderful. Yes, no Richard Thompson but the jazz influenced violin of Ric Sanders more than makes up for it. I'd advise anyone to check out the last three studio releases entitled (respectively): "Who Knows Where the Time Goes," "The Wood and the Wire," "XXXV." Insofar as their historical work goes, check out the live recording "Before the Moon." Although it is not high quality, I think this version of Fairport was every bit as powerful as the Full House line-up. The only member of the 1974 Fairport who has remained in the band is the legendary David Pegg on bass. Caveat: I am a personal friend of the current band members (Dave Pegg, Simon Nicol, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie and Gerry Conway).
I have not heard the new material, being stuck in the dark ages of Full House, Unhalfbricking, Leige and Lief, etc. I'll definitely give one of the newer releases a listen. Thanks for the rec
There are a million that would fit well into this thread and some good ones have appeared already. A few artists I like and are not widely enough recognized are Martin Sexton especially the "Black Sheep" disc and the Matraca Berg disc "The Speed Of Grace". Going back aways the Zephyr disc "Sunset Ride" I like quite a bit as well as "Spooky Two" by Spooky Tooth and the not often mentioned "This Was" the first and best record by Jethro Tull. A couple of jazz sax players that don't get mentioned enough are a baritone player Bennie Wallace and a multi sax player Michael Hashim. Hashim's disc "A Blue Streak" I really enjoy. Cheers, Lee
If I can add two more:

Tom Ovans (US singer/songwriter with great lyrics and a voice that sounds like.... well.... a combination of Dylan, Waits, and Leonard Cohen)

Martin Stephenson and the Daintees.... fantastic folky/bluesy. Really hard to categorize.
The Pousette/Dart Band
James Lee Stanley for one. He's mostly known for being married to the person that writes the Kathy Comic strip, but he has written some great songs.

There are many others; the Siegall-Schwall Band, Sumner, Blodwyn Pig, Spreadeagle, The Belltower....I could go on and on.
The Dream Academy:Remembrance Days. Vintage Gino Vannelli:Storm at Sunup or Powerful People. Charly D'inverno Trio:Following the Band. Shawn Phillips:Spaced. Uzeb:Uzeb Club or Noisy Nights. Jimi Hendrix:Hendrix in the West or Band of Gypsies. FM:Black Noise
Influential bands that don't get enough credit:

1) X (post-punk harmony started here, for better or for worse)

2) PIL (especially their first two records)

3) Husker Du (No Husker Du= No Pixies = No Nirvana, plus guitarists all over the world owe Bob Mould a debt, weather they know it or not.)

4) Elliott Smith (although now that he's dead, maybe more people will listen)

5)Sinead O' Connor (I can't count the number of female singers that have made a career of imitating her badly)

6) Thin White Rope (If you're not in Nor Cal you won't know)

7) Chrome (they were busy starting industrial music in the 70s)

8) OV Wright

9) James Carr

10) Joe Higgs (Bob Marley's voice teacher)

11) The Ramones (Yeah, I know they're famous, but they were making less than their roadies while their imitators--I'M TALKIN TO YOU GREEN DAY--were making bank)

12) Louis Armstrong--Hear me out now!-- Not enough people recognize his vast contributions to modern music and see him as a funny, gravel-voiced Uncle Tom. And they're really missing something tremendous.

13) Sonny Sharrock--he was a big influence on MY playing and deserves to be known for more than the "Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast" theme. His record "Ask The Ages" with Pharaoh Sanders and Elvin Jones is beautiful and moving but also challenging. I urge you to buy it if you like freer types of jazz.

Now as far as unappreciated songs and albums go, the first to come to mind is Here, My Dear by Marvin Gaye. When he sings his wife's name the third time ( Anna, Annna, Aaann-aaa!) during Anna's Song, it is the most desperate sound ever caught on record.