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zphage
zphage
3376 posts

Edited Dec 08, 2007, 21:50
Very British
Dec 08, 2007, 21:44
There are some UK acts that for whatever reasons never translated to the U.S. The Beatles, Who, Kinks showed Britishness shouldn't have been a problem.

But Matt Munro, Jake Thakray, Man, Status Quo, and the Jam all enjoyed great success in UK, but not US. For some it was the size of the country= brutal tours, others bad luck, others not interested, etc.

Are there US acts that not have translated to UK, seen as too American?

And what about Zep, Stones, Cream, etc embracing US musics (e.g blues, rock,jazz, country, soul) and still retaining UK popularity, but Clash did the same( London Calling, Sandinista) and lost popularity homeward?
Lawrence
9486 posts

Re: Very British
Dec 08, 2007, 23:45
I don't think Grand Funk Railroad or Lynyrd Skynyrd were popular in England, unless I'm wrong. Oh yeah, the Young Rascals never cracked it in the UK, from what I learned here...
red peony
red peony
645 posts

Re: Very British
Dec 09, 2007, 02:22
While it's true The Jam didn't explode over here in the US, they did enjoy some modest success. I loved them in the early 80's, but then again, I live near Los Angeles where the radio stations are more polarized as far as willingness to play import music. Same story for New York, I'd imagine.

I wondered if Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, etc., were hugely successful in the UK.
suebutcher
suebutcher
10 posts

Re: Very British
Dec 09, 2007, 02:58
The Beach Boys were still having big hits in the UK as their popularity waned in the US. "Do It Again" was a number one in Britain, but only got to number 20 in America. The same applies to Australia, only more so.
riotmaster
1563 posts

Re: Very British
Dec 09, 2007, 06:15
Garth Brooks and other cod-country shit
Hootie and the Blowfish
Styx
Journey
Boston
Grand Funk Railroad
Damn Yankees
handofdave
handofdave
3515 posts

Re: Very British
Dec 09, 2007, 11:24
The Grateful Dead never had the kind of obsessive fandom in the UK as it did in the US, at least I don't think so?
IanB
IanB
6761 posts

Edited Dec 09, 2007, 13:15
Re: Very British
Dec 09, 2007, 12:40
Usually what happens with a movement that crosses either way across the Atlantic is that the three or four vanguard acts get their feet under the table and then there is a sharply inclined law of diminishing returns for the rest.

For mainstream rock acts from the US if Nicky Horne (Capital Radio) and Bob Harris (OGWT) got behind you then you could do very nicely - Little Feat, Nils Lofgren, Tom Petty, Skynyrd being very good examples of that dynamic.

A lot of the US country rock / soft rock that was a license to print money in the US failed to crossover to the UK in a meaningful way because we had our own (really great) pastoral thing going. Thank fuck.

The British bands who found America hardest to break were the college level bands who could headline say New Victoria Theatre or the Roundhouse - Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Streetwalkers, Faiports, Free, Man et al. Not that the likes of Genesis or the Floyd found it easy by any means.

British acts also seem to have a genius for under-estimating how much hard work is involved in getting across to mainstream America when compared with a major European country. Compare the diverging paths of say U2 and the Bunnymen around the time of their joint US tour with New Order, the release of "The Joshua Tree" and E&TB's eponymous album. Or compare the career paths of Led Zep and the Jeff Beck Group with Rod. Or look at the inexplicable (and equally fleeting) success of Jesus Jones and The Cult.

We shouldn't forget to take into account rock and roll's largely unspoken guilty secret that not being attractive or sexually charismatic is a major handicap. If the average Joe or Jolene don't want to be you or fuck you (or both) then you are in for a long long uphill slog in terms of reaching a broad audience. The core music fan will overlook all such considerations. The five-albums-a-year suburbanites who make stadium tours a possibility generally wont. Which certainly explains Peter Frampton.

To quote Michael Bracewell, being a success in the rock and roll business takes "punishing hard work and uncomplicated ambition". How many Brits get into rock and roll because they want to work hard? Not too many. How many are handicapped at the first hint of success by a disconnect between what they want to create and what they think will sell?

And then there's the drugs.
Dog 3000
Dog 3000
4611 posts

Re: Very British
Dec 09, 2007, 20:19
Interesting topic. Lots of good comments there Ian.

Also, of course, the US is a huge country and so touring the whole thing to get grass roots support literally means criss-crossing an entire continent a few times. This is hard enough when you live here, for a band from another country it could be impossible (unless there's someone back home to fund your trip.)

If you could get an influential DJ on your side in NYC or LA, or even better a shot on TV (Ed Sullivan, Dick Clark) that would be a lovely shortcut, but as you put it there's only ever a few who make that cut (Beatles, Stones) while the rest just have to work harder (The Who, Pink Floyd.)

I have a pretty good sense of what didn't make the UK-to-USA transition, but often wonder about the other way around.

And Canadian groups too (can it be true The Guess never had much popularity in the UK? Is "American Woman" the only song Brits know?) As I understand it they outsold the Beatles "globally" in 1970, which is probably entirely due to all the units they shifted in North America (Guess Who 1969-70 over here is like Slade on the UK charts a few years later; every single goes straight to the top 10, and most go to #1 in Canada.) It seems to me their halfway-between-UK-and-USA style should have gone over pretty well in both places. Or were they "too American"? (Being "too British" at that moment in pop music history seems almost impossible.)

Charts don't really tell the whole story -- The Who's track record in the American Top 40 is not too impressive, but they certainly had legions of fans here. (Or a group like The Jam, who are a "popular cult band" without any "hits.")
machineryelf
3697 posts

Re: Very British
Dec 09, 2007, 21:01
Foghat-british group-huge in the States, unknown in Britain
UFO were big in the States before they were in England
and really early UFO were big in Japan when no one else appeared to give a damn

I remember reading reports of a bill playing some midwest enormodome comprising of headliners Nazereth, 2nd on the bill UFO and lowly 3rd raters Thin Lizzy and thinking ''Americans must be mad'' not realising that in 76 a black Irishman singing cowboy songs was probably not such a hit in Salt Lake City as it was to a young English lad

probably because that style of hard rock was pretty much an anathema to the style obsessed Brit Music press who even pre punk dismissed anything that seemed even slightly tainted by metal

England as it has been pointed out never really went a bundle on Grand Funk, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith et al probably because we already had the Quo, and what more do you need.
philiph20
79 posts

Re: Very British
Dec 09, 2007, 21:20
Queen were not as huge in the US as they were in the rest of the world , i think "The Game" was a big success there but everything after was not very successful. A lot of our synth bands of the late 70s/early 80s didn't appear to be too popular in the States although Depeche Mode began to get very popular over there towards the end of the decade.

Most if not all West coast psyche bands didn't do big business over here although they did have a cult following, i think The Dead rarely played over here they did soem festivals but generally speaking didn't get over here much and the same applies to The Airplane.
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