British bands that stalled in the U.S.

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That British and American taste differs so greatly in so many things–from food to comedy– it should come as little shock that beloved British rock acts haven't always been welcomed with open arms in America.The late 1960s and early 70s in particular saw some huge gaps in popularity that are worth noting.


1. Slade


 Glam rock had its brief moment in the U.S., but many of the most popular British artists of that genre–including Wizzard, Mudd and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel–never really broke through over here. Slade was a big miss. Superstars in Britain during the early 70s, the band couldn't give it away across the Atlantic. With their idiosyncratic dress and propensity for purposely misspelling song titles ("Mama Weer All Crazee Now,""Gudbuy T' Jane"), Slade were a peculiar little unit. They rocked very hard and turned out very catchy tunes, but something about their manner just didn't travel. Years after their British success Slade finally hit the U.S. Top 20 charts with "Run Runaway " in 1984. A decade after Slade hit the U.K. number one spot with "Cum On Feel the Noize," the American band Quiet Riot took the song to number five on the U.S. charts. 

 Essential albums:

Slayed? (1972) 

Sladest (1973) 

The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome (1983)

2. T. Rex


 Though T. Rex actually did score an American hit, "Bang A Gong" and got plenty of FM airplay with "Jeepster," those blips on the early 70s scene couldn't compare with the monstrous commercial success the band achieved in Britain. Leader Marc Bolan and his glam rock unit scored a slew of hit singles including "Ride a White Swan," "Hot Love""Telegram Sam" and "Metal Guru", none of which made a mark in the U.S."Born To Boogie," a 1972 film documenting the pop mania that had built up around the band ("T. Rextasy" as it was dubbed by the press) was directed by none other than Ringo Starr. 

Essential albums:

T. Rex (1970)

Electric Warrior (1971)

The Slider (1972)

Tanx (1973)

3. Fleetwood Mac


No, not that version of Fleetwood Mac. By the time that Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975, the band had already been in existence–in numerous incarnations–for nearly seven years. Formed as a blues rock band by Peter Green–the brilliant guitarist who had replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers–Fleetwood Mac, in its classic British hit-making form included drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, and guitarists Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan, as well as Green. Such singles as "Man Of The World,""Albatross" and "Oh Well" become major British hits. None of these tracks, nor the group's landmark album Then Play On, made a significant dent on the U.S. charts.  

Essential albums:

Then Play On (1969)

4. Fairport Convention


 It would have been asking a great deal for Fairport Convention to have achieved American success. Drawing on British folk sources for much of its material, Fairport Convention was Anglo to the bone. The band–which went through many incarnations in its first decade–was loaded with talent, including singer Sandy Denny, guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson, violinist Dave Swabrick, bassist Dave Pegg and drummer Dave Mattacks. (Apart from Fairport fanatics, Denny is probably best known as the only female singer to have been featured on a song by Led Zeppelin, "The Battle Of Evermore.") Beloved by the British, the classic Denny-Thompson versions of the band never even toured the U.S.

Essential albums:

What We Did on Our Holidays (1969)

 

Unhalfbricking (1969)

Liege & Lief (1969)
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