Music Lists #16: 160 Sinfully Underplayed Songs

As usual, before I launch into my playlist of sinfully underplayed songs, let me set forward an explanation and a few notes.

A) The purpose for sharing this playlist is to present to you some titles that you may not have heard of.  A list which contained nothing but songs like "Stairway to Heaven" and "Hotel California" would be a total waste of our time. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for good music I've not heard before, or perhaps forgotten about.  Not to say every track here will be unheard of - judging by the comments Retrospace gets, many of you are professional musicologists.  I wouldn't presume that these are new to you at all - suffice it to say, most of these songs aren't in heavy rotation on your average oldies or classic rock radio stations.

B) You'll note that I've ventured outside my usual domain and included a few songs released after the 1980s. Why? Just for the hell of it.

C) This is by no means a comprehensive list of every underplayed song - that would take months to write.  But it should get you started. You can finally delete that tired old Styx's Greatest Hits and fill your iPod up with nice new stuff.

D) I'd love to provide a mp3 of each of these songs, but (1) most of these are still for sale and (2) I don't feel like having Lars Ulrich murder my whole family (or whatever they do to copyright violators these days). BTW Lars' net worth is $175 million.

E) One final note: Every music magazine has at one time or another made a list of "greatest songs".  Unlike those lists, however, this one isn't crap.

Let the list begin!

  1. 1941 - Harry Nilsson
  2. 2000 Light Years from Home - Rolling Stones
  3. A Minah Menina - Os Mutantes
  4. Act of the Apostle - Belle & Sebastian
  5. African Symphony - Van McCoy
  6. Any Major Dude - Steely Dan
  7. Anyone for Tennis? - Cream
  8. Baby's On Fire - Brian Eno
  9. Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On - Mel McDaniels
  10. Ballad of Danny Bailey - Elton John
  11. Batpoem - The Liverpool Scene
  12. Big Black Smoke - The Kinks
  13. Blue's Theme - Dave Allan and the Arrows
  14. Business as Usual - Orleans
  15. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft - The Carpenters/Klaatu
  16. Cancer - Joe Jackson
  17. Caroline Goodbye - Colin Blunestone
  18. Catch the Sun - Doves
  19. Celtic Soul Brothers - Dexy's Midnight Runners
  20. Chevy Van - Sammy Johns
  21. Chihuahua - Bow Wow Wow
  22. Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk - Rufus Wainwright
  23. Circle Round the Sun - B.J. Thomas
  24. Circle of Steel - Gordon Lightfoot
  25. Cities on Flame - Blue Oyster Cult
  26. Cold on the Shoulder - Gordon Lightfoot
  27. Colonel Brown - Tomorrow
  28. Come All Ye - Fairport Convention
  29. Cook with Honey - Howdy Moon
  30. Cthlu Thlu - Caravan
  31. Daily Nightly - The Monkees
  32. Daybreak - Harry Nilsson
  33. Defecting Grey - Pretty Things
  34. Disadvantages of You - The Brass Ring
  35. Do It Again - The Kinks
  36. Do Ya - The Move
  37. Dogs of Lust - The The
  38. Down in the Park - Tubeway Army
  39. Eagle and the Hawk - John Denver
  40. Ecstasy of Gold - Ennio Morricone
  41. El Diablo - ZZ Top
  42. Entertaining the Shy Girl - Donovan
  43. Equestrian Statue - Bonzo Dog Band
  44. Every Day Another Hair Turns Gray - Manfred Mann
  45. Every Night - Paul McCartney
  46. Faintly Blowing - Kaleidoscope
  47. Family of Man - Three Dog Night
  48. Fisherman - Badfinger
  49. Forever - Charlatans UK
  50. Fresh Garbage - Spirit
  51. Fundamentally Yours - Stackridge
  52. Georgie Porgie - Toto
  53. Get It Right Next Time - Gerry Rafferty
  54. Ghetto Child - The Spinners
  55. Golf Girl - Caravan
  56. Good Old Desk - Harry Nilsson
  57. Gotta Get Up - Harry Nilsson
  58. Guilty - Barry Gibb and Barbara Streisand
  59. Happiness Stan - Small Faces
  60. Hard Times - Kiss
  61. Hello Hooray - Alice Cooper
  62. Hello Little Lover - Mahogany Rush
  63. Home Is Where the Hatred Is - Esther Williams
  64. Hot Smoke & Sassafras - Bubble Puppy
  65. Houdini Said - Gilbert O'Sullivan
  66. Hummingbird - Seals and Crofts
  67. I See the Rain - Marmalade
  68. Ice Man - The Ice
  69. I'm Mandy, Fly Me - 10cc
  70. In the First Place - Remo Four
  71. Inside Out - Mighty Lemon Drops
  72. Isn't It Time - The Babys
  73. I've Got to Be Going - Peppermint Trolley Co.
  74. Junk - Paul McCartney
  75. Ladies and Gentlemen - Clouds
  76. Land of the Few - Love Sculpture
  77. Lay the Ghost - The Creation
  78. Leave It - Mike McGear and Paul McCartney
  79. Legal Tender - B-52s
  80. Life Has Just Begun - Spirit
  81. Like Always - The Association
  82. Living for the City - Stevie Wonder
  83. Long Agos and Worlds Apart - Small Faces
  84. Love Alive - Heart
  85. Love Is Alive - Gary Wright
  86. Love Will Find a Way - Pablo Cruise
  87. Lovely Day - Bill Withers
  88. Lucifer Sam - Pink Floyd
  89. Man of 1000 Faces - Gene Simmons
  90. Mary Skeffington - Gerry Rafferty
  91. Mas Que Nada - Sergio Mendez & Brazil '66
  92. Matilda Mother - Pink Floyd
  93. Me and My Arrow - Harry Nilsson
  94. Michael Caine - Madness
  95. Minstrel of the Dawn - Gordon Lightfoot
  96. Miserlou - The Lively Ones
  97. Monster - Steppenwolf
  98. Moonlight Feels Right - Starbuck
  99. Morning Will Come - Spirit
  100. My Girl - Chilliwack
  101. My Little One - Marmalade
  102. My Minds Eye - Small Faces
  103. My White Bicycle - Tomorrow
  104. Nadia's Theme - Various Artists
  105. Nice, Nice, Very Nice - Ambrosia
  106. Nothin' to Hide - Spirit
  107. On Any Other Day - The Police
  108. Only Daddy that Will Walk the Line - Waylon Jennings
  109. Open My Eyes - The Nazz
  110. Open the Door - Pentangle
  111. Open Sesame (Groove with the Genie) - Kool & the Gang
  112. Opera House - Olivia Tremor Control
  113. Our Love Was - The Who
  114. Porpoise Song - The Monkees
  115. Psychic Vampire - Space Opera
  116. Quick One, A - The Who
  117. Rapper, The - The Jaggerz
  118. Red Telephone - Love
  119. Regatta de Blanc - The Police
  120. Rejoice - Jefferson Airplane
  121. Remember a Day - Pink Floyd
  122. Rental Car - Beck
  123. Ripplin' Waters - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  124. Rose for Emily, A - The Zombies
  125. Runaways - XTC
  126. Saint Simon - The Shins
  127. Salty Dog - Procol Harum
  128. Searchin' for So Long - Chicago
  129. See a Little Light - Bob Mould
  130. Seed, The - The Roots
  131. Seven Island Suite - Gordon Lightfoot
  132. She Was Naked - Supersister
  133. Sign on the Dotted Line - Gerry Rafferty
  134. Sing Child - Heart
  135. Sky High - Jigsaw
  136. Snake, The - Al Wilson
  137. Son of Sam - Elliot Smith
  138. Song for Children - Brian Wilson
  139. Song of Joy - Captain and Tennille
  140. Song of the Viking - Todd Rundgren
  141. Starship Trooper - Yes
  142. Stormy - Classics IV
  143. Suddenly - Olivia Newton John, Cliff Richard
  144. Summer Night City - ABBA
  145. Summer of '71 - Helen Reddy
  146. Sun, The - The Pretty Things
  147. Tam Lin - Fairport Convention
  148. Telephone Is Empty, The - Love and Rockets
  149. Theme One - The George Martin Orchestra
  150. There's a World Outside - Psychedelic Furs
  151. Timeless Melody - The Las
  152. Too Many People - Paul McCartney
  153. Vacuum Cleaner - Tintern Abbey
  154. Walking Through My Dreams - Pretty Things
  155. Wand, The - Flaming Lips
  156. Waymore Blues - Waylon Jennings
  157. What Am I Doing Hangin' Round? - The Monkees
  158. What You Won't Do For Love - Bobby Caldwell
  159. Whiskey Man - The Who
  160. Working Girl - The Members


  1. Love the inclusion of some Tomorrow songs. Any chance of a Spotify playlist? Totally legal and can be streamed all in a row.

    1. good idea - tho it's still a bit patchy

    2. Admittedly, I've never used Spotify.... how comprehensive is their selection? Would they really have the Bonzo Dog Band?

  2. Dude,

    No list should EVER include a Steely Dan song. Unless it's the "Bands who have made a career of re-recording the same song over and over for 30 years." list.

    1. Wow, you obviously haven't listened to more than 2 of their hits.

    2. Considering Steely Dan is one of the diverse bands of all time, that is quite an ironic comment. To each his own I suppose..

    3. for what it's worth, Jimmy Page stated that the solos on "Reeling in the Years" is as close as it gets to a perfect rock guitar solo.

      I forgot "Baby's On Fire" existed

      "2000 Light Years.." bring back the mellotron!

    4. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

      Oh, I get it. You mistook Steely Dan for CCR. An honest mistake. Sarcasm +1

  3. Some great stuff in there (Too Many People, Regatta de Blanc), and some great ones that seem pretty popular to me (I wouldn't call Moonright, Feels Right, Sky High, or Starship Trooper underplayed). When I saw Kinks, I was hoping for Art Lover or Celluloid Heroes - two genius songs.

    1. Well, I can see where you're coming from. Starbuck and Jigsaw are pretty well known among lovers of seventies music..... there's more than a few on this list that are just borderline obscure. I could really hit some deep deep tracks - but I'll save that for a future post.

  4. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

    Music is really not your thing, right?

  5. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

    The comment above is meant for Jeff, not for Gilligan.

  6. There were some great ones on this list. As I'm writing my new manuscript I've actually been listening to a lot of these due to one character's musical preference. Now I've got more to add to Pandora. Danke.

  7. Gilligan,
    Is there really a Vacuum Cleaner by Tintern Abbey or did you just make that up to see if we were paying attention?
    Will enjoy trying to track that & others down anyway.

    1. Yep, they're real. See the comment below by burnleaf.

    2. And I can want to add it is one of the best rock songs ever.

  8. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

    Kudos for the Syd Barrett Pink Floyd era, 66-67 Who songs, the Monkees and 2000 Light Years From Home - the intro to that is Keith Richards tossing shillings into a grand piano played backwards. About half of your list is on my regular rotation on my ipod

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS-ULwge-x0 Vacuum Cleaner - Tintern Abbey - my new favorite song!

  10. Some great songs! I agree...most are definitely underplayed!

  11. Some great songs! I agree...most are definitely underplayed!

  12. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

    I'm about 90% with you on that list.. I would add
    The Sherbs - I Have The Skill
    Tin Tin - Toast and Marmalade for Tea
    Kenny Rogers & The First Edition- Something's Burning
    Buck Owens - Made In Japan
    Cartoone - A Penny For The Sun
    The Beat - On The Highway
    Lucinda Williams - Righteously

    1. I will be promptly adding these to my phone. Nice.

  13. I was just, as I'm reading this, listening to Inside Out!!! http://sonofthesubversivesounds.blogspot.com/2012/05/mighty-lemon-drops-world-without-end.html

    Kudos for Os Mutantes and Kaleidoscope!

    Blue Oyster Cult has a song other than Don't Fear the Reaper? I had no idea!

    My sister used to play Nadia's Theme on the piano. A Tulsa jeweler used in commercials in the 70s.

    Stormy gets plenty of play on our local station. Good to know there's still some variations in radio play.

    Miserlou was originally done by Dick Dale, any reason you chose the Lively Ones version?

    1. As to Nadia's song, I always wondered whether it was on Young & the Restless first and then just got renamed after Nadia Comenici.... I'd look it up, but I'm feeling too lazy.

    2. Gilligan, it was originaly on the soundtrack to Bless the Beast and the Children and titled "Cotton's Theme." Then Y&R used it as their theme song. After Nadia used it, they decided to cash in on both its popularity with Y&R and Nadia and released it as a single under the name "Nadia's Theme."

    3. That's what I originally thought, but then I heard the Carpenter's "Bless the Beasts and the Children" and it didn't sound at all like Nadia's Theme. Must be two songs from that movie.

      By the way, I saw that movie in the theater and cried like a blubbering idiot.

    4. I thought it was from Dr. Zhivago.

  14. The Nazz, Caravan, great choices. There are so many songs that this list could never be complete. I'll just suggest one - Hot Summer Day by It's A Beautiful Day.

  15. The radio station I work for had "What You Won't Do For Love" in heavy rotation recently when we were "Timeless Love Songs," however, I could tolerate that compared to all of the cuts we played off of Bobby Caldwell's Frank Sinatra tribute CDs. Ugh!

    Great list! I agree with most of these and the titles I don't recognize, I'm going to track down.

  16. I heard 'Ecstasy of Gold' in Peking a few years ago with the maestro himself conducting. The chorus was in full Chinese regalia- what a great concept! I must have 6 versions on that song on my ipod. Try to find the mash up with Adele's 'Set Fire to the Rain' (The Good, the Bad and the Pyro)- it's worth it!

  17. Nice to see The Monkees listed three times! :)

  18. I've no idea why Cities on Flame isn't as well-known a riff as Iron Man, Black Dog, etc. It's a great song.

  19. AnonymousMay 16, 2012

    Great list, full o' seriously solid choices. Hello Hurray!

  20. massive song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39SjyMvBbk4

  21. Working on creating this in a Spotify list, and yes, Bonzo Dog Band is on Spotify!

  22. Home Is Where the Hatred Is was actually done by soul singer Esther Phillips. As far as I know, synchronized swimming MGM star Esther Williams never cut an album.

  23. Found all of these songs except 14 of them on Spotify!

  24. Good to see that someone else enjoys Batpoem, lots of good choices here