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Andrei in the office


Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Andrei in the office


In the (screened) comment area.... name as many bands as you can that you felt were:
  • ahead of their time
  • Really great
  • didn't make it big with the masses at the time of their release

There, nice and convoluted. We'll see if there are any responses and I'll compile the choices in a day or so.
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"were"... referring to non-recent bands...hmm

I guess unfortunately I won't have many names to provide. I think that QUEEN was definitely ahead of their time. I can listen to so many of their songs and still be absolutely blown away, because they did things 30 years ago that some people are STILL afraid to do.

aaaaand that's all I've got for now.

These will be some obscure choices, I'm sure. :) Three of them, in three separate comments. (Sorry, I was bored and terribly in the mood to write.)

Cyclone Temple: In 1991, just as metalheads were cutting their hair and donning flannel, a guitarist named Greg Fulton was trying his hand at the music business for a second time after his longtime outfit Znowhite had crapped out after two albums. Greg was a unique fixture on the metal scene, being an African-American 7-footer from the bad side of Chicago. He teamed up with three long-haired white guys and formed Cyclone Temple, joining with Jimi Hazel from 24/7 Spyz to produce I Hate Therefore I Am for legendary independent metal label Combat. 'I Hate...' was and remains one of the best debut albums from a heavy metal band. Lead by Fulton's unmatched rhythm guitar skills, CT blended unapologetic 80's speed/thrash with a hearty dose of melody and harmonic guitar solos that was unlike anything heard before. In fact, it'd be another ten years before anything like it would be heard again...when bands like Machine Head, Slipknot, and Iced Earth combined melody and strong songwriting with intense metal music. The rest of the world heralded the birth of grunge thanks to one overrated suicidal singer/songwriter while it ignored the evolution of heavy metal at the hands of Fulton and Cyclone Temple.

The upswing of grunge caused the industry to move away from metal, which had mostly become a parody of itself. To make matters worse for CT, Combat was purchased by Relativity Records, another niche label who remains one of the biggest indie labels to release extreme music. Unfortunately they saw fit to orphan and finally abandon two acts out of the inherited Combat lineup: 24/7 Spyz and Cyclone Temple. While I'm not sure it was justified, the cries of racism from both bands were immediate (24/7 Spyz were an entirely black funk/metal outfit). More likely, it just betrayed an absolute lack of vision on the part of Relativity, as the two bands were the only original, creative acts on their roster.

Cyclone Temple never returned to a traditional label. The lineup disintigrated, with Fulton being the only constant member for the duration. They released two EP's and one final album, but none them attained the brilliance of 'I Hate...' and eventually Fulton changed his direction. He's still playing, now as the frontman of a three-piece rap-metal outfit that frankly pales in comparison to his previous efforts.

The Crucified: In the mid 80's, four Orange County, CA teens came together and taught themselves how to play like their favorite punk bands, such as Minor Threat. This isn't notable, except that these four young men were born-again Christians. They weren't the first Christian punk band, and for their first two demos (later re-released by their first label) they weren't all that good. Frequently out-and-out copying riffs from secular bands, they played inspired but pedestrian hardcore punk with occasionally clever lyrics.

This changed in 1988 when they released their first, self-titled label album. With no warning, the band suddenly switched gears and blended thrash metal riffs and drumming in with their hardcore punk vocals. This genre, known as crossover, also wasn't originated by The Cru, but the album was a strong start of their career and showed a lot of promise.

In 1991, a change to a bigger label with national distribution as well as a change of bass players lead to something no one expected. The crossover sound remained, but the complexity of the songwriting had increased with dynamic time changes thrown in that no one else had really tried before, frequently slowing down the oft-frenetic pace of the style. The big change, however, was in the vocals. Vocalist Mark Saloman had mostly dropped the monotonous howling associated with punk and adopted a blend of the beefy, testosterone -filled shouts of east coast hardcore and the rhythmic chanting of hardcore rap. The album, 'Pillars Of Humanity', was sheer genius, and the world hadn't seen anything like it.

While the album remains legendary throughout the Christian music realm, The Crucified were unable to break free from the industry due to their blatant evangelical message. Two years later, the band would release two songs off a demo they recorded to prepare for their next album, and they remain the best songs the band ever recorded. However, before recording could begin, personal problems split the band forever. A couple of the members continue in other acts, but they've never come close to the glory that was The Crucified.

The Cru stand in music history in two important ways. First, they were the first Christian hardcore band who not only played with secular hardcore bands, but influenced them as well. Bands like Downset adopted the rap-influenced vocals after frequently playing with The Cru in small local gigs, even though they didn't adopt their beliefs.

Their main place in music history is in what they inspired. Currently, the biggest movement in hardcore is metalcore, or 'New England hardcore', dominated by bands that blend melodic singing with harsh screams. Many of these bands have Christian members, and nearly every one of them would note The Crucified as an influence. Metalcore is the next evolution of what The Crucified began over ten years ago, a fusion of punk's speed and rage with metal's technicality and rap's rhythmic vocals. Virtually no one has heard of The Crucified outside of Christianity, but virtually everyone who listens to modern metal music hears their lineage.

And now, one from left field:

The Monkees: Yes, they were amazingly popular. Yes, they played cheesy, accessible pop music. One question: have you ever seen Head? This strange collision of filmmaker Bob Rafelson, Jack Nicholson, Frank Zappa, and The Monkees near the end of their heyday is completely bizarre...but you can see the seeds of a potentially excellent band. By revealing just how frustrated they were at the stringent controls placed upon them by their corporate owners, they plead the case that they weren't a fake band at all...just a band forced to do what others wanted at their own creative expense. While most of Head's songs were still written or co-written by others, gone are the attempts at easy top 40 hit singles. Clear nods are made towards the band's interest in Eastern religion and music, as well as their deep desire to do something, ANYTHING that was totally theirs.

It's my argument that they were indeed ahead of their time, in that they could have switched gears and done something amazing if they could have lasted just a few more years in that era and survived the end of the 60's. The fact that they allied themselves with people like Zappa shows they had the right idea about making music, but just weren't in a position to do much about it.

The show ended, Head flopped, and the band split until those uncomfortable Mike-less 80's reunions (and now the even more uncomfortable reunions WITH Mike). The people who were into them at the time, responsible for making them big, really didn't have a clue. The band even makes an obvious statement of this in Head, when they attempt to play a song at a concert only to be completely drowned out by the screaming crowd, then overrun, and finally torn apart....and we see they're just mannequins. If they had stayed together, been able to work on music they 'felt' with people like Zappa, and been allowed to record what they like...would we have had another 'White' album? The world will never know...

Almost all the best bands fit in this category. It's easier to name exceptions. The only truly great bands that weren't ahead of their time and did make it big are:

The Stones
The Who
Black Sabbath
Led Zeppelin

I'm sure I've forgotten a few, but it's pretty safe to say that all of the other timely and successful bands have been crap.

ok, i'll play properly, hehehe. Mind you, some of these had hits in the UK or other countries, but Americans were too tasteless to buy them:

The Stooges
The Velvet Underground
Roxy Music
Mott the Hoople
Marianne Faithful
The Cranes
Cocteau Twins
Christian Death
Virgin Prunes
The Damned
Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Flesh Eaters
The Cramps
Brian Eno
Kate Bush
The Birthday Party
Patti Smith Group
Einsturzende Neubaten
The New York Dolls
Big Star
Dead Can Dance
This Mortal Coil
Sex Gang Children
The Runaways
Throbbing Gristle
Sonic Youth
Crash Worship
Diamanda Galas
The Dickies
Tones on Tail
Dali's Car
Robert Fripp
Joy Division
Nick Drake
The Pogues
Tom Waits
Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers
Chris and Cosey
Gang of Four
Gavin Friday
The Gun Club
Killing Joke
Pere Ubu
Public Image Ltd.
PJ Harvey
The Residents
Teenage Jesus and the Jerks
Wall of Voodoo
X-Ray Specs
Rudimentary Peni
Jayne County and the Electric Chairs

ah hell...I could go on and on. Think I'll stop there.

Cherry Popping Daddies...too retro for the punk crowd, and too weird for the swing crowd..finally enjoyed fifteen minutes with the whole Swing craze.

Screamin Jay Hawkins...the man practically INVENTED rock and roll. Too weird for airplay at the time, he still got the word out there.

Ahead Of Their Time:

Tangerine Dream

Really Great:

Steppenwolf (esp. Steppenwolf Second and Monster
Tower of Power
Earth, Wind and Fire
Chicago (I-IV)

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