The fifteen most under rated British bands of the 80s – The Claim, The Monochrome Set, Furniture and more

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

13 The Dentists

Picture 3 of 15

The missing link between The Smiths, C86 indie and psychedelia, The Dentists burst out of The Medway in the mid 80s with the energetic lysergic pop of Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden and the corking album Some People Are On the Pitch. They were more influential than they were credited at the time - The Wedding Present made a career out of Writhing On The Shagpile. They were still making fine albums in the 90s too. The wonderful debut album is on Spotify.


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AshleyThe fifteen most under rated British bands of the 80s – The Claim, The Monochrome Set, Furniture and more
  • Marge von Marge

    Bauhaus? Under rated?  Seriously?

  • Secretagentguitar
  • Paul D. Brazill

    Great to see El Records getting a thumbs up.  Some top turns, there.

  • Jeff

    Great to see Bad Dream Facy Dress on the list but where are the Chameleons, Wolf Gang Press, Front 242, Associates, Bog Shed, Bong Water, The Swans, Its Immiterial, Wild Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, Wedding Present, Foreheads in a Fishtank, and the Sugar Cubes  

  • David Preece

    What about the Scars, Comsat Angels, Wasted Youth, Sex Gang Children, UK Decay, Martian Dance…?

  • David Preece

    And the Virgin Prunes. 

  • Testify

    It’s Barry Andrews not Barry Adamson (who was in Magazine, later a Bad Seed and a solo artist whoe deserves more acclaim)  And yeah Bauhaus under rated! Or Furniture. Or The Monchrome Set for that matter! 

  • Stefano

     Hi, thanks for the Andrews/Adamson tip. I was obviously thinking of one when writing about the other. As for Bauhaus and The Monochrome Set, you never hear them on the radio, not even 6 music, which is why I think they are under rated. Each to their own though

  • Autographsunlimited

    Greatest band I ever saw in the 80′s were a Liverpool band called Toy Taboo , fabulous musicians & great vocalist in Gary  Wall . I was amazed they never made it BIG as they had a huge following locally. Still listen to their songs now.

  • terry Murphy

    thank you Dave for mentioning WASTED YOUTH the amount of gigs they played was unbelievable, I am bias as it was my band and my dear son Darren got the band together.and what a great front man Ken Scott was Darren Died last year Ken waiting for a Liver transplant,so they paid the price but it was great while it lasted Regards

  • Secretagentguitar

    Hey Terry Steve from Miles Over Matter here, so sorry to hear of your lose, I remember Darren to be a really nice bloke, and you’re right Wasted Youth were a great band. I ran into Rocko about 10 or 12 years ago in LA we had a drink and a good chat about the old days, I wondered how Ken was doing. For what it’s worth I actually nominated Wasted Youth too when I first heard about the list. God bless mate and thanks for the Bridgehouse too it was a killer venue.

  • Mileslandesman

    miles over matter are gonna try to get a C.D. out this year .
    love Miles Davis Landesman (MAGIC MOOSE)

  • Mick

    Hi, I’m Mick the drummer from Miles Over matter. Just over 2 years ago Miles, Paul MacCallum (from Puncture also in the band was Steve Counsel) and myself were 80% through an album of new psych songs we had written. Steve came back from America with the offer by someone who wanted to put out an album of the demoes. Unfortunately the only surviving copies were on cassette tapes of mine. It was proposed by Steve and Miles to re-do the demo’s and pass them off as originals. I said no for 2 reasons. 1 I wanted to finish the album off and 2 I was not prepared to con people in to buying something that wasn’t what they thought. I don’t remember how many times I refused. Anyway, the youtube tracks are the cassette copies and it’s great that they are out there. The album I was doing with Miles and Paul from Puncture has been scrapped in what was its current form. There will be no Miles over Matter CD as the only other recordings are from gigs, which should also be put on youtube. At the end of MOM Steve and Jade (his girlfriend and the so called manager) broke every promise they made and totally f*cked the rest of the band over managing to out do Spinal Tap in spectacular fashion. It’s great that people remember MOM as, at the time, we loved playing live and those that supported us were appreciated. When the band played Future Daze Steve and I went for a drink and met some people that were there to see MOM. It was a great day.