Not Your Average Hit List

© This link for the illustrations.

© Per A.J. Andersson for the texts. Written March 2005, updated November 2011.

Music Out West

The musical trends arrived at the farm where I was raised with some delay. I spent the 80s listening to progressive rock, and I enjoyed 80s synth music during the 90s. The female singer-songwriter wave of the late 80s took me by storm... a decade later.

— • —

When finally there music stays with me. So here are some more of the English-territory artists that over the years have helped to form my musical taste...


Formed: 197(1) (San José, USA)
Disbanded: 1975
Members: Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks
My discovery: early '80s (early '00s)

They were meant for each other. The talented Californian duo featuring an exciting songstress diva and a brilliant guitarist with quirky compositions. Meeting the British rhythm'n'blues outfit turned west-coast outfit (Fleetwood Mac). The former needed a spring-board, and the second found a creative input that spelled a second spring-time of sorts.

Legend has it Mick Fleetwood, already then of Fleetwood Mac fame, was presented to "Frozen Love" as a showcase of the capabilities of the studio Mick visited. And Mick more than liked what he heard, in the end not only revisiting the studio but also joining forces with the duo behind the song. The rest is rock history.

Still the album featuring "Frozen Love" and nine other capable rock tunes remains an undiscovered gem for most people. It is still, over three decades later, waiting for its first CD release.


Born: 1952 (Montréal, Canada)
First album: 1973
My discovery: 1978

Romantic pop with ambitious orchestrations made interesting thanks to a curious musical mind. And some help from a brother or two...


Born: 1949 (Jarrow, UK)
First album: 1976

My discovery: late '70s

A powerful voice, a knack for pop sentimentality and a gifted rock guitarist. John Miles is best known for his epic "Music", but that was only the beginning of the story...


Born: 1940 (Baltimore, USA)
Died: 1993
First album: 1966

My discovery: c. 1980

Even at his most accessible period this multi-talented composer knew how to befuddle even his most die-hard fans. Or do _you_ know the word for a short cloth neck ornament, currently in resurgence...


Formed: 1965 (London, UK)
Members (1975): David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright

My discovery: 1982

Psychedelic extravaganza made in Britain. Their finest moment may have been the record that let people down. The slick and elegant "Wish You Were Here" was no crowd-pleaser in the "Dark Side..." vein.


Formed: 1967 (Blackpool, UK)
Members (1981): Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, Gerry Conway, David Pegg and Peter-John Vettese

My discovery: 1982

Right from the start front-man Ian Anderson personified the baroque rock that is Jethro Tull, standing mid-stage on one leg, with his long hair and beard, playing the most exquisite flute.

Daryl HALL

Born: 1946 (Philadelphia, USA)
First solo album:
1980 (1977)
My discovery: 1982

Hall and partner-in-crime John Oates started out in the white soul of Philadelphia. Their pop became ever more stylish, smart and captivating as the years passed by, and in the early 80s Hall & Oates were everywhere!


Formed: 1972 (UK)
Members (1974): Manfred Mann, Colin Pattenden, Mick Rogers and Chris Slade

My discovery: 1983

With a South-African descent, Manfred Mann entered the British music scene during the swinging 60s. Ultimately the "Earth Band" was formed, with Mann as the quiet centre of a group mixing delicate rock symphonies with successful rock covers (of both Dylan and Springsteen).


Formed: 1969 (UK)
Members (1971): Box Burrell, Mel Collins, Robert Fripp, Ian Wallace plus Peter Sinfield

My discovery: 1983

In some respect the quintessential exponent of progressive rock. Became a rock celebrity in a time and era when rap was but a 3-letter word and a 7-minute instrumental tune could become a chart success.


1966 (Godalming, UK)
Members (1975): Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford

My discovery: c. 1983

One of the classic progressive rock groups to come out of Britain, Genesis has survived more transformations than most. After the leaving of Peter Gabriel in 1975 they embarked on a new career, led by the eternally witty drummer-turned-singer Phil Collins.


Born: 1943 (Ft. McLeod, Canada)
First album: 1968

My discovery: 1984

Ground-breaking singer-songwriter who paved the way for a whole generation of female artists with or without an acoustic guitar or piano. Mitchell turned the folk rock influences into her very own, emotional music, adding to it a lot of jazz impressions.


Formed: 1974 (UK)
Members (1976): Robert John Godfrey, Francis Lickerish and Stephen Stewart

My discovery: 1984

"The only band on the planet to have successfully fused rock based music with the power, dynamics and scale of symphonic classical music." At least that's what they've said themselves, this lesser-known representative of British progressive rock.


Born: 1951 (Wallsend, UK)
First solo album: 1985

My discovery: 1985

Gordon Sumner was there before the Police, he has made a successful solo career afterwards, but it was through this massively successful rock trio he rose to fame. As Sting. The first solo album of this often overly ambitious artist may still be his best.

Rickie Lee JONES

Born: 1954 (Chicago, USA)
First album: 1979

My discovery: mid-'80s

Jones drew inspiration from Joni Mitchell's emotional song-writing but was even more low-key in her vocal approach. Lyrics about personal experiences were often coupled with jazz chords in a style distinctly her own.


Born: 1953 (New York, USA)
First album: 1983

My discovery: c. 1990

Rose to prominence with happy and carefree songs in the dancing 80s. Her attempts to explore musical and lyrical depths have met with minimal appraise, despite her being just as capable a songwriter as the likes of Madonna. Maybe Cyndi's voice is a tad too bright...

Suzanne VEGA

Born: 1959 (Santa Monica, USA)
First album: 1985

My discovery: c. 1990

Her upbringing in New York's Puertorican neighbourhoods is often reflected in her songs. This singer-songwriter influenced by folk rock exudes a vocal warmth and intimacy colouring her compositions with sincerity.

k d LANG

Born: 1961 (Consort, Canada)
First album: 1983

My discovery: 1994

From the Canadian prairie hails one of the most unlikely of country musicians. Since those beginnings, k d lang has travelled a long way, today being both a lesbian icon and one of the most revered voices in modern popular music.


Born: 1963 (Newton, USA)
First album:

My discovery: 1996

She debuted with the ill-fated and everything-but-forgotten pop-metal production "Y Kant Tori Read". Since then Tori Amos has made herself a name singing spare, haunting, semi-confessional piano ballads, arranged like Kate Bush but with the melodies and lyrical approach of a Joni Mitchell.


Born: 1965 (Poughkeepsie, USA)
First album: 1986 (1984)
My discovery: 1998

A cult phenomenon of sorts. Was a child prodigy both as a composer and singer, starting out with hand-made cassette releases featuring her ethereal pop music. Her four-octave voice sounds even more Kate Bush than the original (complete with a British accent!).
Not Your Average Hit List 43 minutes... Alla är Ambition Consequences Door to Door The Dreaming Dzien i noc État d'urgence In the Spirit of Things Kaze no tani no Naushika Lights in the Night Martwa woda Nuit d'amour Once in a Million Open Door People Are Strange The Royal Scam Stationary Traveller Victim of Love Whore Music Up North Music Out West Music Far East Music Down South Films I Like a Lot Comic or Not On and Off TV About Me There's so much more out there ...