Martin Stephenson & the Dainties

Those old enough to remember Donovan’s late-’60s albums, on which he combined strains of folk, rock, blues and wispy jazz with sincere, unpretentious singing, have a good reference point for Martin Stephenson and the Daintees. Hailing from a small town outside of Newcastle (which he reputedly never left until he was 27), singer/guitarist Stephenson is…

Jools Holland

Best known now as the host of a long-running music show on British television, the flamboyant pianist — a cigar-chomping hustler able to energize even the most blasé audience — provided much of the zest on Squeeze’s first three albums. For his solo debut, Jools adopted a less contemporary stance, playing old-fashioned bar-room romps with…

Reddy Teddy

One of Boston’s leading local bands of the mid-’70s, Reddy Teddy preceded, by a couple of years, most of the groups that would coalesce into a scene around the Rat, the club that served as Boston’s first indie-rock epicenter. Their sole album, released by a Cambridge indie, is well-produced, aggressive pre-punk rock’n’roll that sounds at…

Paul Young

From the ashes of London neo-soulsters the Q-Tips emerged Paul Young, whose smoky voice, singing a mixture of classics and originals, quickly put him in the British, and later, American charts. The choice of songs on No Parlez ranges from the prudent (“Love of the Common People,” “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home),”…

Alter Boys

The Dictators’ Andy Shernoff may have produced the only LP by New York’s Alter Boys, but the group’s roots seem closer to two other great erstwhile Gotham bands — Television and the Velvet Underground. The two guitarists seem promising enough, but they often seem held back by the relatively stiff rhythm section; the band sounds…

Gear Daddies

Hailing from Spam-town (Austin, Minnesota, home of Hormel), the Gear Daddies serve up slices of Americana Norman Rockwell forgot to paint. The low-budget Let’s Go Scare Al showcases singer-guitarist Martin Zellar’s somber, country-tinged songs. (Although guitarist Randy Broughten often plays pedal steel and a snippet of a Bob Wills tune finds its uncredited way in,…

Godfathers

Remember Dr. Feelgood? How ’bout Eddie and the Hot Rods? Well, if the white-hot pre-punk R&B/rock’n’roll of those two bands means anything to you, chances are you’ll love the early Godfathers — formed by London brothers Peter (vocals) and Chris (bass/vocals) Coyne, initially as the Syd Presley Experience — to death. Not coincidentally, the late…

A’s

One of the first bands on Philadelphia’s new wave club scene to sign with a major label, the A’s made their reputation through an energetic stage show which featured singer Richard Bush’s Jerry Lewis-like antics. On the group’s first album, Bush shows an equal aptitude for playing the comedian (“Teenage Jerk Off,” an affectionately tongue-in-cheek…

Atlantics

The only album by this talented Boston rock band with strong, melodic material and a slightly overdramatic vocalist was unfortunately issued on a label that was breathing its corporate last. Two standout songs — “When You’re Young” and “One Last Night” — suggest abundant power-pop promise, but weak production and a crucial lack of promotion…

Medium Medium

This Nottingham quartet, which played powerful bass-heavy funk, debuted with a single in ’78, appeared on a compilation album in ’79 and signed with Cherry Red in 1980. Their eponymous EP is one of the best (not to mention earliest) modern Brit-funk records, featuring two versions of the hypnotic “Hungry, So Angry,” the tension-filled “Further…

Single Bullet Theory

Early new wave rumblings from below the Mason-Dixon line: Richmond, Virginia’s SBT filled their independent 12-inch with four energetic, two-minute Yardbirds/Kinks-influenced pop songs. Unfortunately, they run between four and six minutes each. The band’s combination of power and finesse is impressive, though, as is their sense of humor on the best track, “Rocker’s Night Out…

Afraid of Mice

This Liverpool quartet’s sole LP is humorless Bowiesque dance-rock, produced by former Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti. Leader Philip Franz Jones, who wrote all but one of the songs, performs on sax, flute and keyboards in addition to providing mannered lead vocals. For all his versatility, Jones’ songs are not particularly memorable; the dour, solipsistic views…

Whirlwind

This London quartet (named after a Charlie Rich Sun recording) was one of the first English rockabilly bands to emerge at a time when the music press was looking for the “next big thing” after punk. On its debut, Blowin’ Up a Storm, Whirlwind — whether by design or simply limited competence — offers up…

Equators

Produced by Rumours keyboardist Bob Andrews, the Equators’ well-integrated (no pun intended) hybrid of ska, reggae and rock (credit the rhythm section all around) is musically, if not lyrically, similar to much of the output of the contemporaneous 2 Tone bands. This all-black sextet leaves out the heavy messages and aims for the feet, making…

Three O’Clock

One of the brightest lights of new American pop psychedelia, LA’s Salvation Army debuted with an album that was liable to inspire young bands all around the world to join in the fun. The trio’s melodies have the ethereal quality of a young Syd Barrett; the music is a blend of all the most colorful…

Robert Palmer

It’s not surprising that this stylish rock dilettante — whose ’70s dabblings included excursions into R&B, funk, reggae and Little Feat-backed rock’n’roll — should catch up with post-punk in the ’80s. What is remarkable is that on Clues he manages to come up with two tracks as sublime as “Johnny and Mary” and “Looking for…

Mark Andrews and the Gents

Keyboardist Andrews was Joe Jackson’s bandmate in Arms & Legs during the latter’s formative years in Portsmouth, England. Funnily enough, shortly after Jackson’s initial success, Andrews wound up on the same label, playing a not terribly dissimilar style of music; unfortunately for him, he’s not Jackson’s equal as a singer or songwriter. Some may find…

Bonedaddys

Uplifting Afrobeat, uptight contemporary funk and sizzling rock’n’roll collide with delightful results on the merry gumbo of the Bonedaddys’ first LP. The large interracial LA outfit — essentially a citywide sideband — takes a knowledgeable approach to exotica (confidently covering two Manu Dibango songs) and a witty pen to localism. “Zouk Attack,” co-written by Bonedaddy…

Bradford

Bradford’s Ian H. is a talented chap. He writes better-than-average melodic pop-rock songs (mostly about life and love in northern England), his lyrics display a wit and verbal ability worthy of Elvis Costello and he sings them in a way that’ll remind you a lot of Morrissey (Bradford comes from a Manchester suburb, not the…

Jam

How ironic that the band from the class of ’77 that seemed to stand least for the tenets of punk at the outset should wind up the one that remained truest to them over the long haul. The Jam’s refusal to compromise their ideals and integrity during a six-year career tends to polarize reactions to…