Top 10 Songs by Relatively Obscure Artists:

I was driving to work today and heard the great old song "Dancin' in the Moonlight" by the band King Harvest (had to look that up on the Internet). Which got me to thinking--what are the 10 best songs by relatively obscure bands? I'm looking for the tunes that have slipped through the cracks in my cd collection--songs that are fun, not really one-hit wonders but are still fun to listen to after many years.

Here's my partial list, in no particular order (yeah, I know some of them are kind of corny): 1. "Dancin' in the Moonlight" by King Harvest

2. "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" by Looking Glass

3. "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Stealers Wheel

4. "Go All the Way" by The Raspberries

5. "Sunshine" by Jonathan Edwards

6. "Green-Eyed Lady" by Sugarloaf

I'm still trying to decide whether "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas makes the cut.

Comments enabled.


Wow--what a great list of suggestions! Here's my completely arbitrary final 4 rounding out the top 10 list:

7. "One Toke Over the Line," by Brewer & Shipley

8. "Ride Captain Ride," by Blues Image

9. "Incense & Peppermints," by Strawberry Alarm Clock

10. "Still the One" by Orleans

Honrable mentions:

Spirit in the Sky

Lady Marmalade

Build Me Up Buttercup

Stagger Lee

"Love the One Your With" (great song, but Stephen Stills not quite obscure enough, i.e., I didn't have to look up who sand the song)

As good as "Kung Fu Fighting" is, I'm not sure its quite up to par with the others.

Moonage Political Webdream (mail) (www):
Most of my favorites are one hit wonders. You HAVE to have "Wild Thing" by either The Troggs and/or Sam Kennison. Louie Louie by the Kingsmen. This could get very very long.
4.27.2005 3:37pm
Moonage Political Webdream (mail) (www):
And yeah, you GOTTA keep Kung Fu Fighting.
Beat So Lonely by Charlie Sexton's fun too.
Man, my brain hurts.
4.27.2005 3:39pm
btorrez (mail):
You have to put in Kung Fu Fighting!! And where is Carl Douglas today? While not quite on the same note,pun intended, The Newbeats, 1964 or so version of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's All Right." is so bad that it is wonderful.
4.27.2005 3:40pm
Stuart (mail):
Sorry, but it seems to me that the very low quality of most of these songs provides good evidence as to why these groups were one -hit "wonders." I doubt the equilibrium of the universe would have been able to withstand more releases from this crew.
4.27.2005 3:42pm
Sully (mail):
How about "Ooh La La," by The Faces? It's a great track that provided a nice ending to Wes Anderson's best movie.
4.27.2005 3:50pm
dkp (mail):
I'm sorry, but did you post that "some of them were kind of corny?" If by "some," you actually meant, well, "all," then I'd have no issue here. Which is not to say that they are not great songs, but rather, great in spite of their corniness. A phenomenon, I'm sure, which is due to when we first heard them, or something like that.

To that end, "Kung Fu Fighting" needs to be in there. But of course, if you want to bump it up a decade, into the 80s as it were, then you'd also have to include Cameo's "Word Up." At which point (inclusion of 80s one-hit wonders), this list will assuredly grow unwieldy.
4.27.2005 3:51pm
Thief (mail) (www):
I'd have to add:

Tommy Tutone - 867-5309 (Jenny)
The Knack - My Sharona
Crash Test Dummies - Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought The Law
The Kinks - Lola
Kansas - Dust In The Wind
The Pretenders - Back To Ohio
Ram Jam - Black Betty
Thin Lizzy - The Boys Are Back In Town
Vertical Horizon - Everything You Want

Strange thing is, I'm only in my mid-20's and I pretty much listen to "classic" rock. (I guess that's because most rock today is junk.)
4.27.2005 3:52pm
Michaelg (mail):
The 80s should provide lots of material. Just for starters:

"Come On Eileen," Dexy's Midnight Runners
"One Thing Leads To Another," The Fixx
"In A Big Country," Big Country
4.27.2005 3:57pm
larry (mail):
"safety dance" by Men without Hats
4.27.2005 4:04pm
larry (mail):
"Come on, Eileen," by Dexy's Midnight Runners
4.27.2005 4:05pm
Matt R (mail):
More guilty pleasures from the 80s:

"Turn Up the Radio" - Autograph
"Keep Your Hands to Yourself" - Georgia Satellites
"Mexican Radio" - Wall of Voodoo
"Electric Avenue" - Eddy Grant
4.27.2005 4:07pm
Scott (mail):
Staying with the '80's theme, how about "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles?
4.27.2005 4:14pm
Mike1830 (mail):
"Lonesome Loser" -The Little River Band
Same era, same genre as the King Harvest Song.
4.27.2005 4:14pm
Matt Barr (mail) (www):
Send Me On My Way, Rusted Root!
4.27.2005 4:16pm
Scipio (mail) (www):
I had written something quite obnoxious.

Instead, let me recommend "Two Hangmen" by Mason Proffitt. Now that's obscure.
4.27.2005 4:25pm
Adam Kronfeld (mail):
Little Feat - Dixie Chicken, Let it Roll
Three Dog Night - Eli's Coming
T-Rex - Bang a Gong (or, even better, the cover by Robert Palmer &Power Station)
4.27.2005 4:29pm
Jason W. (mail):
I'd include (1) the combo of "Train, Train (prelude)" and "Train, Train" by Blackfoot and (2) "Amie" by Pure Prairie League. If you've listened to more than 10 hours (cumulatively) of AOR/classic rock radio in your life, you've heard these songs. I'd bet that more than half the people on the street would recognize them and be able to hum a few bars or sing along for a few lines, but fewer than 1 in 10 could name the artists. That's obscurity for you!
4.27.2005 4:30pm
96 Tears, Question Mark and the Mysterians
(OK, it dates me)
4.27.2005 4:32pm
Sluggo (mail) (www):
A number of these suggestions have to be discarded as they violate the criteria. Three Dog Night perhaps should have been obscure, but they were not.

I nominate $1000 Car by The Bottle Rockets.
4.27.2005 4:36pm
Christopher A. George (www):
Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) by The Looking Glass is a great song!
4.27.2005 4:46pm
how bout
"I'm an Old Cowhand" by Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks
"Wolverton Mountain" by Claude King
and you just can't forget....."Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler (i think it was)
this is getting easier how bout that dandy
"Surphase Tension" by Hot Tuna
"Dark Eyes " by Leftover Salmon i'll stop while i'm ahead.
4.27.2005 4:46pm
YES! "Kung Fu Fighting" has to make the cut.
4.27.2005 4:47pm
Goober (mail):
"Ooh La La" is such a great choice I regret not thinking of it first. You'll get yours, Sully! [/fistshaking]

Edith Piaf, "La Vie en Rose"
"Au Moulin Rouge," by someone I don't know (not the "Lady Marmalade" one you think I mean)
Santo &Jonny, "Sleepwalk" is perhaps the least-owned favorite song of all time
Springsteen, "Sad Eyes" (okay, the artist isn't obscure, but unreleased previous to Tracks)
Smoking Popes, "Megan"
Jerry Jeff Walker, "Mr. Bojangles" (yeah, same as Springsteen, but the kids these days, they don't listen to nothing good)
Old 97's, "Big Brown Eyes" (worth it just for the chorus "You left a big impression / For a girl o' yer size / But now I can't get by without you and yer [title]")
4.27.2005 5:03pm
David Hecht (mail):
I can't believe that after nearly two dozen comments, no one has nominated "In The Year 2525" by Zager and Evans...
4.27.2005 5:10pm
"California Sun" by the Rivieras, from Indiana.

Knowing the story behind the song adds to the enjoyment.
4.27.2005 5:29pm
Steve in CA (mail):
Whoever nominated the Kinks as a one-hit wonder are insane.

My pick is "Come on Eileen." Great song, but apparently Dexie's Midnight Runners didn't have another one in them.
4.27.2005 5:32pm
Brian Moore:
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum. It has a riff everyone knows, even if they can't name the song.

By the way, The Faces aren't exactly an obscure band - Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, and Ian McLagen were members. Nor are The Kinks, Hot Tuna, Three Dog Night, and Little Feat, though at least one of those probably should have been.

And The Bottle Rockets never deserved their obscurity. They flat-out smoked.


4.27.2005 5:38pm
countertop (mail):
The Kinks are anything but a one hit wonder (and neither are the Pretenders, Thin Lizzy, or Kansas)

I like the Georgia Satellites song, and would probably add Funky Town by Lipps, Inc. and Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Taylor (who has another song that was very popular but I can't think of it - but the time between the two was like 8 or 9 years).

Playing with the Queen of Hearts by Juice Newton is good too. I was in Crested Butte once and she was going a free concert at the base lodge and ended up sharing the lift up with her and her husband/boyfriend. Very nice people.
4.27.2005 5:42pm
Roger Ritter (mail):
I'll second "In the Year 2525", and also add:

"Convoy" and "Wolf Creek Pass" by C.W. McCall
"Radar Love" by Golden Earring

Lots of stuff by Tom Lehrer - I'll just mention "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" and "The Masochism Tango" for starters.

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens
4.27.2005 5:46pm
Brian Moore:
If "Dancing in the Moonlight" and "Kung Fu Fighting" make the cut, then I don't see why "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band doesn't deserve a spot on the JV squad.
4.27.2005 5:56pm
Brian Moore:
... or "Take a Letter, Maria" by R.B. Greaves...
4.27.2005 5:58pm
Jacob Kaufman:
Pretty much all of Lehrer is golden, though my favourite would have to be "Who's Next" or "Smut".

As for "Stuck in the Middle with You", it's not their fault but I can't listen to that song now without recalling some dude having his ear chopped off.
4.27.2005 6:27pm
Matt Caplan (mail):
How about:

A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harem
4.27.2005 6:35pm
Simon Kenton (mail):
"Third-rate Romance, Low-rent Rendezvous," by the Amazing Rhythm Aces. You want corn, that's hardcore corn.
4.27.2005 6:42pm
Django (mail):
"Hocus Pocus" by Focus
"Mississpi Queen" by Mountain
"Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum
"The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace
"Dead Skunk" by Loudon Wainwright III

I haven't even touched the '80s yet.

"Bitchin' Camaro" by the Dead Milkmen

There I go.

Regarding an earlier post, I would disqualify "Lola" by the Kinks. The Kinks had too many hits spanning three decades to qualify. If you had said "Waterloo Sunset" or "Big Sky" I might have followed you there.
4.27.2005 6:46pm
btorrez (mail):
Second time around."Psychotic Reaction" The Count Five. And for a little soul, Denise Lasalle, "Trapped By This Thing Called Love" and Betty Wright, "Clean-Up Woman".
4.27.2005 6:52pm
Countertop - I think the Bonnie Tyler song you are thinking of is 'Its a Heartache'.

How about Jerry Rafferty 'Baker Street', Boomtown Rats 'I dont like Mondays' or Edwin Collins 'A girl like you' (just to name a few)?
4.27.2005 7:01pm
I think the mystery Bonnie Tyler song Countertop can't think of is more likely "Holding Out for a Hero." Thought I would disagree that Bonnie Tyler is obscure. Cheezy perhaps, but not obscure.
4.27.2005 7:07pm
whitecollarguy (mail):
"Everybody Wang Chung Tonight" by Wang Chung naturally, but not "To Live and Die in L.A." -- a terrible movie.

"Clap For the Wolfman" by the Guess Who (not a one hit wonder, but this one was not a hit)
4.27.2005 7:12pm
Xrlq (mail) (www):
"All Right Now" by Free [OK, so the lead singer later went on to non-obscurity in a different group. That doesn't count.]
"Hush" by Deep Purple [OK, so that group later went on to non-obscurity with a different lead singer. That doesn't count, either.]
"Hold Your Head Up" by Argent
"We're Not Gonna Take It," by Twisted Sister
"Who Let the Dogs Out," by some godawful garage band whose name I don't want to know
4.27.2005 7:27pm
Silicon Valley Jim (mail):
"Elusive Butterfly" by Bob Lind
4.27.2005 7:39pm
KW (mail):
Hmm, also there's "I'm too sexy."
4.27.2005 7:55pm
KW (mail):
And "Wild Wild West." And "Hey Mickey" which has got to be one of the top one-hit-wonder songs ever.
4.27.2005 7:56pm
Perry (mail):
It's funny that you mentioned the Raspberries as "relatively obscure". In certain geeky circles they're viewed as demigods of early powerpop.
4.27.2005 8:21pm
Erebus (mail):
"Venus" by the Shocking Blue
4.27.2005 8:24pm
Django (mail):
How did I forget "Hold Your Head Up" by Argent?

There is a great version of the Leonard Cohen song "Suzanne" by the band Pearls Before Swine. The lead singer had an unfortunate speech impediment.
4.27.2005 8:30pm
Whohah (mail):
Orleans - Still the One

Greatest 70s no-name song ever. But good call on the Raspberry's "Go All the Way." Took me 5 years to finally figure out that song.
4.27.2005 8:49pm
egw (mail):
"Incense and Peppermints" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock
4.27.2005 8:51pm
Roger Fraley:
"How Long" by Ace
"It's a Long Way There" by Little River Band
"All the Boys in Town" by The Divynals
"Can't Let Go" by Lucinda Williams
"Twist in my Sobriety" by Tanita Tikeram
"Minor Swing" by the Dave Grisman Quartet
"Waltzing's for Dreamers" by Richard Thompson

That's all I can think of off hand. "To Live and Die in LA" was a great movie, by the way.
4.27.2005 9:53pm
Avedon (mail) (www):
I always did like "Brandy".

I cannot imagine characterizing The Kinks as a "relatively obscure band."
4.27.2005 10:06pm
One Toke over the Line - Brewer &Shipley
Alone Again (Naturally) - Gilbert O'Sullivan
Reflections of my Life - Marmalade
Ride Captain Ride - Blues Image
Radar Love - Golden Earring

More recent...
The Freshmen - Verve Pipe
We Were Meant to Live - Switchfoot
Swing Swing - All-American Rejects
4.27.2005 10:12pm
Ray Gardner (mail) (www):
I second "Stuck in the Middle with You."
4.27.2005 10:40pm
paul (mail) (www):
Raspberries = NOT obscure. Same for the Faces, which was (if memory serves) Rod Stewart's first band, before he left 'em in the late 1960s.

But I must admit, "Ooh La La" was the perfect ending to the perfect movie. "Rushmore" beats out "The Godfather" for me any day.
4.27.2005 10:57pm
Been There, Done That:
The Outlaws, Green Grass &High Tides
4.27.2005 11:05pm
M. Richardson (mail):
"Boogie, Oogie, Oogie"--Taste of Honey ("'til you JUST can't boogie no mo'")
"Young and in Love"--Marvelettes ("Spring in the air, filled with love...")
"39-21-40 Shape"--Showmen ("You-u-u-u, with your 39-21-40 shape")

I second "Afternoon Delight," "Mr. Bojangles." Good ones!
4.27.2005 11:11pm
SteveS (mail) (www):
"Bank Your Head" - Quiet Riot
"Cherry Baby" - Starz
"Bang Bang" - Terry Reid
"Asshole from El Paso" - Kinky Freidman
4.27.2005 11:38pm
Dennis De Jarnette (mail):
This was interesting since I had some free songs from Pepsi bottle caps I got a few of thes from Itunes.

I nominate almost anything from Chi Coltranes first album especially "Thunder and Lightening"

Positve Dennis
4.27.2005 11:54pm
Joe McDermott (mail):
Venus -- Shocking Blue (later remade by Bananarama, meaning one song was one hit for two wonders)

Vehicle -- Ides of March
4.28.2005 1:13am
Jay (mail):
Dead Skunk, by Loudon Wainwright III.

This novelty song, and the fact that it became a Top 10 record around 1972, was the worst thing to ever happen to Loudon Wainwright. Most of the world wrote him off as he spent the next 30 years writing and recording some of the most insightful, poignant and yes, often hilarious songs ever. His latest CD just came out last week. I can't recommend him highly enough. Yes, he's the dad of Rufus and Martha.
4.28.2005 1:39am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
"Kansas - Dust In The Wind "

Uh, Kansas is hardly an obscure group.

I'll add "Town Without Pity" by Montrose, which is also on my (long) list of theme songs for the District of Columbia. (Actualy, "Dust In The Wind" is on that list, too...)
4.28.2005 2:11am
Stephen Bundy:
Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations.

Papa Ooo Mow Mow by the Rivingtons

Mr. Big Stuff, by Jean Knight

Cool Jerk by the Capitals
4.28.2005 3:06am
nurembergviolations (mail):
Too numerous too mention, but one of my top ten is:

"Inna Gadda Da Vidda" (sp?) by Iron Butterfly

I haven't heard any of their other stuff so they may not qualify as one hitters, but nonetheless they should be included for the guitar riff and psychedelic instrumentation alone.
4.28.2005 3:16am
InTheAeroplane (mail):
Doesn't really count, as it's an entire album of brilliance, which has yet to see a follow up.

That said, Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
4.28.2005 4:10am
Aldomeir (mail):
My selections:
Undercover Angel - Alan O'Day
Hot Smoke and Sassafras - Bubblepuppy
Incense and Peppermint - Strawberry Alarm Clock
4.28.2005 4:24am
dafydd (mail):
At the risk of getting permanently blocked from VC, I'll stick a vote in for "Do The Hustle" by Van McCoy. It still gets my foot tapping...
4.28.2005 4:41am
Malibu Drew (mail):
Three words: "Incense & Peppermints"

C'mon, Strawberry Alarm Clock is about as obscure as bands get, god bless 'em.
4.28.2005 4:57am
bago (mail):
Soft Cell
All 4 one <-- evil pop
Whoever did "Danger Zone" for top gun.
DVDA, anything they've done is an intentional one hit wonder. Eamples: "Now you're a man", and "America, Fuck Yeah!"
4.28.2005 7:25am
Norman Greenbaum (mail):
How Can A List like this not include "Spirit in the Sky?" by Norman Greenbaum who referred to himself as just some Jewish musician who dug gospel music.
4.28.2005 8:57am
"Since Yesterday" by Strawberry Switchblade (not Alarm Clock)
4.28.2005 10:35am
Marc W:
"Cruel to Be Kind" by Nick Lowe
4.28.2005 12:00pm
1. agree with folks above questioning whether the raspberries are obscure
2. "starry eyes" by the records
3. "don henley must die" by mojo nixon
4.28.2005 12:20pm
rar (mail):
That Quiet Riot song is "Bang Your Head", not "Bank".

"Hey Mickey" should definitely be on the list. And along those same lines, I nominate "Pop Muzik" by M.
4.28.2005 12:56pm
Teresa (mail) (www):
Since I rarely pay attention to artists - I don't remember how popular this band was... but I can't believe no one has mentioned

Smokin in the Boy's Room by Brownsville Station.

If the band isn't one of the obscure ones - the song itself always makes me laugh when I hear it.
4.28.2005 12:58pm
Richard Riley (mail):
The theme song for my MBA class, '87

"The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" by Timbuk 3

The amazing thing is they never licensed it out, for anything. They could have made a small bundle letting a company like Nike use it in advertising
4.28.2005 1:15pm
Jim Smith (mail):
How can you guys pass on:

Emilean by Hot Choclate
Ahab the Arab by Sam the Sham &the Pharoahs (talk about dating oneself, this is early 60s)

Watching Bobby Grow - can't remember who sang it, but pure unadulterated corn
4.28.2005 1:26pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
I am going to have to jump if you put 2525 on the list, only "you're having my baby" was worse.
4.28.2005 1:27pm
"Voices Carry" Til Tuesday
"My Maria" B.W. Stevenson
4.28.2005 1:32pm
JSinger (mail):
"What Do All The People Know" -- not sure whether the Monroes or Sherbs version is the original
4.28.2005 2:51pm
That Quiet Riot song is "Bang Your Head", not "Bank".

Actually it is neither, it is titled "Mental Health". Which speaking of Quiet Riot brings us to "Cum on feel the Noize" which is actually a Slade song.
4.28.2005 3:12pm
Bob (mail):
Walk away Renee by The Left Bank
4.28.2005 3:28pm
Bob McHenry (mail):
Not by a band, but a great piece nonetheless: "Scratchy," by Travis Wammack.
4.28.2005 4:21pm
Face Man (mail):
"Informer" by Snow
4.28.2005 5:23pm
Mike Lutz (mail):
"Midnight at the Oasis" by Maria Muldaur
"Radar Love" by Golden Earring
"Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas
4.28.2005 5:29pm
Silicon Valley Jim (mail):
I'd add "They're Coming to Take Me Away" by Napoleon XIV, and note that Brewer and Shipley charted not only with "One Toke Over the Line", but also with "Tarkio Road", and, according to their website one other (unidentified song), and that the Ides of March charted a few years earlier than "Vehicle" with "You Wouldn't Listen to Me". It's possible, therefore, that neither qualifies as obscure.
4.28.2005 5:34pm
Syd (mail):
"Ahab the Arab" was Ray Stevens, who had a bunch of hits. Sam the Sham was "Wooly Bully" and "Lil Red Riding Hood."

I'll nominate "Natural High" by Bloodstone,
"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by Santa Esmeralda (the album is great, too),
"Groove is in the Heart" by Deeelite,
"Moonlight Feels Right" by Starbuck(?),
"So Good So Right," by Brenda Russell,
"Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkins
"Don't Say You Don't Remember" by Beverly Bremers
"Sweet City Woman" by the Stampeders
4.28.2005 5:44pm
Scott Schulle:
Actually, just to continue the Quiet Riot thread, the correct title of the song is "Metal Health".

"Run Runaway" by Slade might be a good addition to the list though. Very catchy tune.
4.28.2005 8:28pm
Whohah (mail):
Danger Zone was by Kenny Loggins. So, very antithetical to the idea of obscurity.
4.28.2005 8:58pm
SteveS (mail) (www):
"Macho Man" - The Village People
4.28.2005 9:31pm
John Herbison (mail):
"Tequila" by the Champs
"Wipeout" by the Surfaris
"Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" by the Casinos
"The Shoop Shoop Song" by Betty Everett
4.28.2005 9:53pm
Cal Lanier (mail) (www):
Asterisked songs have been mentioned.
  1. You Got the Best of My Love (The Emotions)
  2. I Got All the Time in the World (Subdudes)
  3. One Toke Over the Line*
  4. Stuck in the Middle with You*
  5. Still the One* (Orleans)
  6. I Really Wanna See You Tonight (England Dan &John Ford--I can't say I like this song, but I know it by heart, and it's damn near 30 years old, so it must be doing something right.)
  7. Shambala or Never Been to Spain by 3 Dog Night
  8. Fooled Around and Fell in Love (okay, maybe not obscure enough, but it should be far more famous).
4.28.2005 11:03pm
Jeff Davidson (mail):
I don't count Golden Earring as a one hit wonder for "Radar Love", although it's one of my favorite songs of all time - they had another hit several years later with "Twilight Zone" (or was it called "When the Billet hits the Bone"?)

One of the duo that was Stealer's Wheel was Gerry Rafferty- he was a one hit wonder under his own name with "Baker Street" - surprised it hasn't been mentioned - great sax riff, and a good guitar break too...
4.29.2005 8:22am
Michael1961 (mail):
'Obsession' by Animotion.

Contains the classic lyric, "Who do you want me to be, so that you'll sleep with me"

4.29.2005 9:46am
james (mail) (www):
i dont see that very many of the commenters here are answering the original question, which was,

Which got me to thinking--what are the 10 best songs by relatively obscure bands? I'm looking for the tunes that have slipped through the cracks in my cd collection--songs that are fun, not really one-hit wonders but are still fun to listen to after many years.

admittedly, it's a kind of an ambiguous request, as it asks for 1) songs currently in the poster's CD collection that are 2) also by obscure bands. hmm. it does explicitly say "not one hit wonders" at least.

heres a quick list that also probably doens't answer the question:

  1. highwayman - by the highwaymen (that's willie, waylon, johnny, and kris kristofferson)
  2. speaking of willie, how about pancho and lefty, which is a duet with merle haggard?
  3. the mercy seat - nick cave and the badseeds. (and as remade by johnny cash on american iii)
  4. when the man comes around (speaking of johnny cash, gotta throw at least one in there. every single one of his rick rubin produced albums is awesome, though - ive probably listened to those albums more than i have any other in my lifetime.)
  5. those were the days by mary hopkins (i noticed this mentioned in the volokh comments. this album was put out by apple, which was john lennon's label. youd think it would have gotten bigger. the plastic ono band probably killed them.)
  6. pure - the lightning seeds (old old "alternative" song - i always thought it should have gotten more attention)
  7. delaney by jimmy buffett - one of my favorite buffett songs, gets no props, probably b/c it's a simple folk tune.
  8. more than heaven will allow - the mavericks. the mavericks are right on that country/rock edge.
  9. islands in the stream, the version by the beegees - this is seriously the best song to run to in the world. the song was written by willie nelson and was made popular by dolly parton, but the beegees have the best version by far.
  10. rubberband man - by the disco spinners. i admit, i only know about this song b/c of those staples commercials.
  11. garden party, by ricky nelson. not only is this song from his "post-rocker-folk artist" days, but it's about the same. probably not really an "obscure" tune, but surely obscure in the fact that most people dont know that ricky nelon did it.
  12. the gallows - wylde nept. and original tune by a band that does mostly traditional irish music. awesome band. awesome original song.
  13. bodycount, by bodycount. ice t's "rock" band from the 90's.
  14. i think jane monheit is one of the best jazz artists out there, but i'm not sure how much of her music is original. awesome performer though.
  15. crazy game of poker by OAR. i say of, you say a, i say revolution, you say die....
4.29.2005 4:32pm
Evelyn Blaine:
What about the wonderfully kitschy "Ballroom Blitz" by Sweet?
4.30.2005 4:48pm
Jim Smith (mail):
Is "Court of the Crimson King" by King Crimson obscure enough? Admittedly, it is a lot more heavy metal than the above mentioned songs - but an awesome example of what was known at the time as "acid rock."

"Bridge of Sighs" by Robin Trower (former lead guitarist of Procul Harem)
"Deguello" by ZZ Top
"Life by the Drop" by Stevie Ray Vaughn.
"When the Levee Breaks" Led Zepplin
"War Pigs" Black Sabbath
"Little Wings" Jimi Hendrix version

"Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life" by Bobby Bare (not exactly the same vein as my last few suggestions, but definately fits the obscure defination.)
4.30.2005 5:19pm
Drift Sock:
Can't believe nobody's mentioned Meat Loaf, Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

4.30.2005 11:59pm
Perhaps not quite obscure bands, but good obscure songs:

Sunset People - Donna Summers
Dreadlock Holiday - 10cc
5.1.2005 11:50am
Alan (mail) (www):
"I Got a Line on You" by Spirit
"Pop Muzik" by M
"The Knife Feels Like Justice" by Brian Setzer

By the way, Jerry Rafferty of "Baker Street" was also the lead singer of Stealer's Wheel (Stuck in the Middle With You).
5.1.2005 11:59am
SRG (mail):
Okay, where's:

"Eve of destruction" by Sergeant Barry Sadler????????
5.1.2005 11:21pm
Jim Smith (mail):
Fellow contributors, we have been had!!! Stop for a moment and consider this: How is it that a man who uses the English language with the precision of a surgeon and the beauty of a poet would pose a question with such a vague basis? Please refer to the above comments about the exact meaning of "obscure artist or hit".

I would suggest that Mean Gene Volokh is instead testing our collective ability to exercise our insight and analytical talents. If he were truly serious about such bland and banal tunes, how could he not have included "Seasons in the Sun"? The ultimate combination of schmaltz, corn and obscurity. NO NO NO Good people get serious. This is really a deep cry for help. Imagine, if you will, a man sitting at his PC slaving away on an new article, creating a test, writing a thesis, etc. Were this you, would you be listening to such mind numbing pablum? Of course not. The intellect here screams for stimulatuion. Instead of unflavored, unsweetened oatmeal and warm milk, we should be serving 5 alarm chili and shots of Mescal (straight up, no groceries). Thus, may I suggest the following exercises in musical excitement:
1 Moonlight Sonata (Paderosky {sp?} on piano)
2 The opening bars to "Sweet Child" by Guns and Roses
3 Summertime with Joplin on vocals
4 Strangefruit with Billie Holliday on vocals (original
5 Opening Bars to the Rolling Stone's "Paint it Black".
6 Anything from Led Zepplin's 4th Alblum.
7 Crossroad by Cream.
8 Casey Jones by The Grateful Dead. Can you picture the
Prof as a Deadhead?
9 Ballad of the Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson.
10 David Allen Coe singing The Perfect Country Western

A bit eclectic perhaps, but 12 hours into the 3rd day of 18 hour night shifts, one's mind tends to get fuzzy about putting things together. Or possibly an indication of a not so latent insanity??? HMMMMMMMMM Where's the Cuervo?
5.4.2005 12:12pm
Tom in GA:
I hate I missed this original thread - but if anyone after me runs through this, I'd like to consider one possibly:

"New Orleans Ladies" by LeRoux

I'm under 30 but I can recall growing up in the 80's when both the local top 40 and country stations (my hometown had three FM stations for most of the 80's, the other was r&b) played this song but I know it hardly charted in the 70's when it came out. I'm not sure it was exclusively a regional hit but I think it fits the question well.
5.5.2005 12:36pm
Will Godfrey (mail):
What about "Sweet City Woman" by The Stampeders??
8.3.2005 3:30am
Marios Savvides:
Something in the Air by Thunderclap Newman
10.22.2005 6:09pm