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10 Amazing Songs from Obscure and Mediocre Albums

Being an obsessive music nerd comes with deep reflections on how to solve first world problems. Thus, I want to bring awareness to a marginalized minority of songs—amazing songs from obscure and mediocre albums. These are ignored for all the usual reasons like tyranny of the plebeian majority in addition to being the only really good song on the album. Are these songs doomed to fade from memory without so much as a facebook share or a meager soundoff? So far sputnik hasn't given 99 cents about these kind of songs, so I propose we form a coalition to scavenge our ratings, the web, and our dad's vinyl collection for these diamonds in the rough. Here are just 10 to give you an idea of what the hell I'm talking about. Recs are more than welcome; they are for a good and just cause.
10Vox Dei
La Biblia

"Genesis" –Like the band Genesis' first album, this concept album based on the Bible is disappointing. Maybe bands should realize that 66 books spread over a few thousand years is a bit more than they can chew. Nevertheless, this first song would have you believe they succeeded where Genesis failed, had Genesis been an obscure Spanish-speaking band from Argentina. What a hypnotizing melody and bass riff.
9The Neon Philharmonic
The Moth Confesses

"Morning Girl" –In the wake of such heavy-weights such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys, many bands gave their shot fusing the baroque with the pop...mostly with sentimental ballads about girls. This may be just one more, but no doubt this one was done right. Great melody, lyrics about romance among heartache, and a string section that can't help but freak out at the end. Peace, love, and dissonance.
8Manfred Mann
As Is

"You’re My Girl" –Okay, I'm kinda cheating on this one. Manfred Mann is not that obscure. Still, this song is one of the most incredible, surprising finds on a rather predictable mid 60s pop album. I'll repeat what was said on rym about it: sounds like "Red" by King Crimson. I'll add a hint of Eric Dolphy’s "Hat and Beard." Production quality is a bit high on the treble but damn, this is a mind-boggler. These are the guys who sang "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" two years earlier.
7The Tammys
Egyptian Shumba

"Egyptian Shumba" –People get the impression that girl groups from the 1960s had lush arrangements with soft romantic voices leading the song like a gentle kiss through the car's mono sound system. Hehe…they never heard The Tammys. Riveting synths and screamed vocals lead this maniacal proto-punk song from 1963. This is also kind of a cheat since it was a single, but what the heck. Only a recent Girl Group compilation unearthed this gem for a new audience of 20-some-year-old, male music nerds to get their shumba on.
6Tony McPhee
Two Sides of Tony (T.S.) McPhee

"The Hunt" –Cut to the hunt by skipping immediately to 3:30. I'll quote my pal Cygnatti on his first listen "wtf electronic bangers weren't supposed to exist back then." We've been lied to, because this 1973 song is the birth of rave beat. Once again, a solid gold moment for electronic music was hidden in a gross mesh of blues rock. Okay, admittedly, that's also a first.
5Steve Taylor
I Want to Be a Clone

"I Want to Be a Clone" –Steve Taylor became more infamous later in his career, but he never made it big. That's because, similar to Daniel Amos in the early 80s, he criticized everyone…not something the Christian music industry was too keen on. He was still finding his footing on this EP, but this dramatic, Devo-like title track parodies the church-goer who is more interested in fitting in and following traditions than living true faith. The chorus pretty much sums it up "Be a clone and kiss conviction good night. CLONELINESS is next to godliness, RIGHT?" Sadly, thirty some years later, Christian music is still all about cloneliness.
4The Fugs
The Fugs

"Virgin Forest" –I feel a bit guilty putting this one after a classic Christian rock song. This song is about bestiality…mainly for shock effect, but the Fugs aren't the kind of band that make it clear when they are joking or when they are just sharing what's on their perverted little minds. But this is not on here for the lyrics. Most certainly not. This is…without a doubt in my mind…the first avant-garde, psychedelic rock epic. In fact, everything you though Zappa started on his first two albums were done a few months earlier here. The Fugs are often considered a folk band with a proto-punk mentality, but this is a straight up psychedelic journey. Check it now, but not on the loud speaker at work.

"Caledonia" –Ah…besides the rest of the meandering album…what’s not to like? Weird tape sounds, shouted/whispered vocals predicting extreme metal, a wall of droning guitars, pounding drums fitting for a tribal funeral, and a lead bag pipe—these are all found in one obscure track from 1969. Some modern listeners have claimed it to be the heaviest song of the 60s. It’s no doubt one of the weirdest.
2Bruce Haack
The Electric Lucifer

"Electric to Me Turn" – Of all the pre-Kraftwerk electronic experiments, none capture the robotic aesthetic that would define the band circa The Man Machine more than this song. Bubbly “popcorn”-like synths blend with a robot vocoder voice to make this defining statement in early electronic pop music. I'm sure some people really like the entirety of this album and its playful, psychedelic nonsense, but I doubt many would disagree that this is the only song that delivers on the promise made of the man who notably created his own vocoder.
1Clouds (UK)

"Waiter" – Clouds is an obscure prog band that influenced The Nice, Rick Wakeman, and even David Bowie during their live tenure in the U.K. in the late 1960s. Though their recorded material was very patchy, this 7 minute song is a remarkable proto-prog epic with clever lyrics drawing an analogy between a man's dinner mishap and his crumbling life. Jazz, baroque pop, and organ-fueled prog rock make this both innovative, charming and energetic.
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