Overrated/Underrated

One of the advantages of being 60, as opposed to 40 or even 50, is that I don’t have the 80’s or 90’s as my golden age of music. Let’s face it, being old is at best ok, the time when the most important things happen in our lives are between 15 and 25. And that includes the best music of our lives.

 

The other day I accidently caught a celebration of Blur’s ‘Parklife’ on 6 music. It’s regarded as a bit of a classic apparently, but it passed me by, there were other things happening in my life which were more important to me than the 3rd album by a British indie sounding band.

 

More worryingly/significantly is the fact that it’s 30 (30!) years since the release of the first Stone Roses album. Tributes have been prepared and apparently the Stone Roses are now one of the greatest bands ever.

 

I must admit that at the time I was still engaged in contemporary music and their single ‘Fools Gold’ did rather capture my imagination largely down to the drumming of Reni and the bass playing of Mani (names made for children’s TV). What little I picked up beyond that seemed to be rather disappointing jingle jangle rock music with bad singing. There wasn’t much about the Roses to lift them above the general level of indie bands with jangly guitars and half arsed vocals and I didn’t pay a huge attention to their music.

 

Less than a decade on the Stone Roses were phenomenally influential having influence Oasis who were on their way to becoming the great British hope for music and arguably the last real British rock stars. Oasis had a a similar derivative guitar style and a beefed-up replica of Ian Brown’s vocals with attitude. The Roses themselves had gone down the pan swiftly having swapped the Byrds for Zeppelin and shed members along the way.

For me, the Stone Roses are the epitome of overrated, a band I consider to be highly regarded by history despite having delivered very little of actual substance. It’s an age thing of course if I was a decade or so younger they would have coincided with my formative years and I would have looked at them as uncritically as I regard the Clash or Slade or Yes or Fairport Convention (early years only)

 

And so, I have been considering what it means to be overrated or underrated. When I was writing about Rory Gallager a few weeks back I watched quite a few YouTube videos on the Irish guitarist. What came up time and time again in the comments section was the sense that Gallager was ‘underated’. He’s one hell of a performer and guitarist but there’s the sense that he has never been full appreciated probably just because he isn’t a household name like Hendrix or Beck.

 

At the core of the whole underrated/overrated debate is the sense that there is a gulf between what the artist or band actually were and how, usually in retrospect, they have entered into our collective consciousness. It’s a tricky one, take Queen for example. For years in the 70’s they just seemed a bit irritating with their bloody ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but they soldered on adding and adding material with little sense of direction until they collected a huge shiny pile of nothing. 30 years later the band are at an all-time high, they are officially national treasures and mocking them is now a criminal offence. But.. hand on heart I couldn’t make a case that Queen were overrated. Even though I don’t like them much I can recognise that they produced a whole load of entertaining songs, in retrospect they broke the mould as to what a rock band should be and again in retrospect Freddie Mercury deserves his accolades as an entertainer in the face of sexual and racial prejudice. Another band who escaped my overrated accusations was The Moody Blues, a band who apparently are in the totally pointless rock and roll hall of fame having spent their entire career producing nothing of value. That started me thinking about who actually ever rated the Moody Blues in the first place?. I have never met anyone who like the band, it’s not like the music critics are preparing 6 music documentaries telling us what a great band the Moody’s were, a popular band but barely rated, so free from charges of being overrated.

 

For the next couple of weeks, I will looking at 10 bands who, in my opinion, fit the overrated underrated category. In order to be as unbiased as possible I will concentrate on the 70’s rather than using this as an opportunity to go off on one of those ‘music isn’t what it used to be’ rants.

If you have a favourite overrated underrated band please get involved in some way, all contributions gratefully received.

 

 

 

 

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9 Responses to Overrated/Underrated

  1. Aphoristical says:

    I think the most overrated act ever is anything Eric Clapton did after 1970. He was great up to that, but nothing afterwards interests me.

    Most underrated band ever, I think, is Earth Wind and Fire. They made some great albums and singles, stayed popular for 15 years, but they never seem to get much recognition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aphoristical says:

      Also:
      Pink Floyd – IMO, they have underrated 1970s albums (Meddle, Obscured By Clouds) and overrated (The Wall).
      Eagles – huge sales, probably thus over-rated by the general public.

      Like

      • moulty58 says:

        Pink Floyd on the list. Eagles definitely overrated but escaped the list for contributions to country rock and American bands have an amnesty at the moment which probably won’t last if I do it again !

        Liked by 1 person

    • moulty58 says:

      Good points, the only thing that is still of merit for Clapton is his guitar playing for me but over 40 years of nothing puts him close to my top 5 . As for EWF it’s a good point , great band almost forgotten now – food for thought

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Simon EALES says:

    My wife and I have a constant battle regarding the relative merits or otherwise of Oasis and the Stone Roses. We basically agree about the former – a couple of unarguably good songs aside we both think they are drastically overrated and at least partly responsible for defining a certain type of ( usually male ) Mancunian – not a compliment by the way. However we disagree about the Roses who largely passed me by during their ‘heyday’ but with whom I have caught up since relocating to Manchester. Although I have been caught out saying ‘who is this.” while listening approvingly to a song I didn’t recognise only to be gloatingly informed it’s by the Roses, they have always sounded utterly ordinary to me, their reputation I suspect resting heavily on the time and place of their original emergence – we have friends who go into a kind of wistful trance when the subject arises. I agree with you completely about Queen, a band I’ve always thought it was easier to admire than actually like, though as you say they were undoubtedly very good at what they did. Although I would never say this in the hearing of our daughter I have always found the Foo Fighters to be a resolutely ordinary band – good musicians who produce very unexceptional music and who would come pretty close to the top of my overrated list. It’s much more difficult to pin down underrated artists as in many cases their ‘underratedness’ might be the result of simple lack of exposure rather than being seen as less ‘rated’ than their contemporaries, but among well-known bands that never got their just recognition I would cite Poco, who at their best were every bit as good as the Eagles, in my opinion at least and Brinsley Schwartz who seem to inhabit a limbo world reputation-wise between being cult favourites and not-quite-good-enoughs’ especially as Nick Lowe seldom seems to have many positive things to say about them.
    Really enjoyed the piece and looking forward to other feedback 👍👍!

    Like

    • moulty58 says:

      Thanks Simon , good points, I feel the same about the Foo fighters who were would say are very similar to the stereophoncs in Britain, also an ad man’s definition of a ‘rock’ band. The Eagles are definitely overrated but also pretty influential ( but as you say far from the best country rock band) . Everybody had heard on Brindsley Schwartz but did anyone actually like them ? This is what the whole overrated/ underrated thing is all about . Thanks for contributing

      Like

  3. greenpete58 says:

    Looking forward to your overrated/underrated series. Totally agree on Queen, Eagles, and solo Clapton being overrated, and Gallagher being underrated. Marketing is everything. I disagree slightly on Moody Blues, though. Yes, the band’s lyrics and themes are pretentious, but Justin Hayward’s songs and voice are pretty special, I think. Also, they were perhaps the very first prog-rock band, along with Procol Harum.

    Like you, Oasis, Blur, and Stone Roses are after my era, and all three seem to be more an English than U.S. phenomenon. They were popular on college radio here, but I think they’re more cult fodder. But I was raising a family then, so I could be wrong!

    (Coincidentally, my WP friend Jim the Music Enthusiast just published a piece on the Eagles, which I’m getting ready to read. Maybe he can change our minds! https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/37603511/posts/2274050811)

    Like

    • moulty58 says:

      Hi, just read the piece and I think he nailed it. If the Eagles come on the radio I’m quite happy to listen, it’s like old friends albeit ones I don’t really like that much, we’ve got history! I think the thing is overrated doesn’t mean bad just not as good as people think they are or perhaps an overinflated legacy. Thi s is getting harder than I thought!

      Liked by 1 person

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