These are bands that were/are institutions in the UK but never made it as big int he US, though many have developed cult followings (The Smiths, Buzzcocks), and others are often labeled as one hit wonders in the USA. So, sorry, no bands like the holy trinity of rock; Beatles, the Stones, or The Who, who were equally big on both sides of the Atlantic, or bands that may have been even bigger in the US: Pink Floyd, Zeppelin.
The one real exception is the Kinks who did have hits in the US they never really have gotten the praise they deserve. They would also get my vote for the most British band ever. Sadly, their most classic works aren’t on spotify.
-My dad and uncle once snuck back stage at a T.Rex concert, and my uncle accidentally unplugged Marc Bolan’s guitar amp.
-The film by the same name (24 hr party people) as this song is a worthwhile watch about the important Manchester label Factory Records. It’s the lighter of two films about the period, the other being the much better but fittingly far darker “Control “about Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. Joy Division’s one of my favorite bands of all-time, but I think New Order fit this list better.
-The Libertines are in some ways the quintessential British Rock band of the last 25 years. They had tons of potential, were hyped to astronomical levels by the hyperbolic British music press (“The next Clash!”), and fell apart due to drugs, pressure, in fighting, mental illness, and more drugs.
-Primal Scream is the most important British band few folks in the US have heard of. In 2007, NME, the most important UK music mag, gave them a “Godlike Genius award” recognizing their work.
-Writing on the KLF Allmusic: “More than any pop band in history, the KLF ripped off the music industry for a bucketful of loot and got away with it .” Using anarchist tactics and savvy manipulation of the press, the KLF got big, then retired at the height of their success after 2 albums.
-Though named after a place in Michigan after randomly pointing to a map, the Rollers were the biggest “tenny-bopper” act of the 70’s in the UK, and were the biggest band in the UK since the Beatles. Ironically, “Saturday Night,” the #1 song they are known best for in the US didn’t even chart in the UK.
-I know I’ve played the Stone Roses before, but seriously, I could play them every week. They released their self titled album in 1989, became the biggest band in the UK-then it took 5 years to release their follow-up which could never live up to the hype. Their first album was named both the Greatest British Album and the Greatest Album ever by NME.
PS. I wanted to include The Wombles but they aren’t on Spotify.