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The Buckinghams - before their produced bailed to start Chicago, they were a hit machine from the Second City
J Geils - they defined the genre when they were on top - just ask faye dunawaye...
Little Feat - took a NOLA beat and crossed it with slide guitar blues - I still tear up when I hear Lowell George really scorch a song either live or in the studio
Booker T and The MGs - listen to anything that came out of Memphis in the 60s and 70s and hear the rhythm section and you'll get an idea of the power and influence of these guys. Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Irma thomas, just to name a couple...
We now have the (Way overdue) Standing in the Shadows of Motown which FINALLY gives these guys the credit they deserve as hit makers. And the upcoming documentary on Muscle Shoals we get a glimpse oof how they contributed to black and music in that time in our history. We need one to complete the circuit of what these guys in hythm and blues contributed the white catalog of music.
We need to document the enormous contriburtion that black composers, musicians and record labels did to advance their music and its forms, especiallly as those folks are dying of now and treir stories will never be told.
They brought a lot of influences together from the past, Queen, The Beach Boys, XTC, etc...and crafted them exceedingly well into a completely modern sound. Extended lush harmonies, disonance, mayhem at times and superb tones (JJP)
A lot depends on where and when, as others have noted (e.g. the Kinks were HUGE where I grew up). That being said, any band in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, or earned a Grammy, or any number of notable achievements can be eliminated from this discussion. And there are so, so many who flew/continue-to-fly under the radar. I must agree with some others (Mott the Hoople, Small Faces), and I'll also suggest: Boomers YYZ (talented, tasteful, dare-I-say "classy" Canadians) Climax Blues Band (long before they turned pop) Dwight Twilley Band (jerked around by "the man" but quite talented; ask Tom Petty) The Jam (revered in the U.K. yet booed off stage in Indiana opening up for "the Nuge") Soft Boys (Robyn Hitchcock's punk brilliance, amazing to this day) I'll guess some of these were also quite successful, elsewhere ...
Outside of metal circles, few have heard of Machine Head. They think they have becuase of Deep Purple's 1971 album of the same name, or they get them confused with Motorhead. Machine Head is my 2nd favorite metal band behind the Deftones. Love those guys.