A few weeks ago I wrote a list of the most under rated British bands of the 90s as nominated by some charming musicians, bloggers and chancers that I hang about with on social media sites. It got huge traffic, so, not wishing to change a winning formula, I asked the same group to come up with the most under rated bands of the 80s, and here’s the list.
Obviously the key here is defining the phrase ‘under rated’. There are some 80s bands; Felt, The Soft Boys and Gang Of Four spring to mind, who didn’t trouble the charts a great deal in their prime but thanks to being championed by more recent bands are now heralded as makers of some of the finest music of that decade. So we didn’t include them. I also added a few bands who were huge at the time, but these days never seem to be played on the radio or mentioned at all.
In a totally serendipitous way as I was putting the list together Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music decided to make the first two weeks of the year ‘lost 80s bands’ week, playing some completely forgotten tunes like Westworld’s Sonic Boom Boy. So Steve, how about playing a few of these?
Thanks then to everyone who added their twopennyworth.
And can someone please release the lost album recorded by the number one band. Ta. Any we have missed in the comments please. If you do your own list shout and I’ll post a link here too.
There’s a selection of tracks on the Spotify play list below
1 Boys Wonder
And so to the most under rated British band of the 80s. It simply had to be Boys Wonder. Things were looking pretty glum for British music in that odd period between the demise of The Smiths and the ascension of The Stone Roses. But in among the identikit bowl-hair cut indie bands and faceless dance combos was a posse of South Londoners who really should have gone on to the be one of the biggest bands of the 80s. Boys Wonder rewrote the rule book in mixing punk, glam, Small Faces style beat, The Fifth Dimension and 70s Wings in one hell of a musical cocktail. They had no respect either for the sacred pop culture cows of the day. In an age when every student bedroom had a picture of Rebel Without A Cause Boys Wonder released a seminal single that implored their followers to say Goodbye Jimmy Dean. Decked out in polka dot shirts and stripey suits and with a guitarist that looked like he had pinned money all over his clothes they quite literally appeared to have landed in late 80s Britain from another planet. All they left behind were three corking singles and the memories of some of the best live shows ever. In many ways, though they would probably hate the description, they were the prototype Brit Pop band. Not the Noel Rock meat and potatoes acts that followed Oasis, but the colourful art school, quintessentially English bands like Denim, the Auteurs and early Blur that kicked the whole movement off. There is a website in their honour which includes some unreleased tracks on video which brilliantly captures their alternative pop universe. There are also details of an album that never got released. I know of grown men who would sell body parts just to hear it let alone own it. Can some enterprising label please sort this out. It is about time that Boys Wonder were recognised as true innovators, genius pop culture magpies and all round top blokes.