Hits that only made it in the USA...

Hits that only made it in the USA...
Authored By John Nicholson

It always fascinates me how it is that some music is widespread and popular in America, but doesn’t chart in the UK. You wouldn’t think tastes varied that much, or so radically, especially when it comes to classic rock. Take Foghat, they consistently charted in the USA, every album did so. But did not chart in the UK with any record. Not one, over a 13 year period. You’d think they might have just accidentally made the lower reaches.

Similarly Savoy Brown consistently charted albums in America, but never did so in the UK despite being originally British. Indeed, even me, the uber rock kid, who prided himself on knowing all about every band, didn’t know of either band in the mid to late 70s. Their music just never got any exposure.

Our old faves Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush charted all albums in America, but nothing in the UK. I had heard of them and loved Tales of the Unexpected, but they didn’t mean anything to any other kids.

Initially, I thought it must be a cultural difference, but I don’t think it was. I mean, take Gentle Giant, non more English in their proggy eclecticism. Most (7) of their albums charted in America, but not one charted in the UK which is the opposite of what you would expect for a band that flirted with plainsong, madrigals and folk themes in their wonky prog rock.

Status Quo are remarkable and hold some UK chart records having over 60 hit singles, but only charted in America with Pictures of Matchstick Men #12 and Ice In The Sun #70. They don’t seem to have had a charting album at all, but are one of the UK’s best-selling acts and all their records got a USA release. Why didn’t at least one get to #199?

Lack of promotion must have had something to do with it. And there had to be a random element to it too that can’t be properly explained. There have always been American acts that didn’t have hits in the UK, but did in the US. But that’s what happened to Grand Funk Railroad who were huge stateside but meant nothing in the UK, where they only charted at #29 with their 1970 live album.

I used to listen in the mid-70s to Radio Luxembourg's American chart because it was so different and frequently rock-based, so I was exposed at an early age to all the American acts that didn’t make it in the UK. That’s what gave me a major advantage in my early collecting days and was why I bought records by bands like Blue Cheer who you didn’t hear in the UK.

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