Okay, so you may have already read our pick of the top 10 bands in Manchester ( if you haven’t, then please click here) and, especially if you’re a Brummie, you might be thinking that Birmingham can certainly hold its own against anything Manchester has to offer!
In the spirit of healthy competition, here is our pick of the top 10 bands from Birmingham. Once again, we want to hear what you think and which city can stake the strongest musical claim. So here goes…not in any particular order…just our personal choice.
There can’t be many more charismatic front men than Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath is hailed the world over has one of the bands that started heavy metal and inspired thousands of others to do the same. Formed in the Birmingham suburb of Aston in 1969, the iconic line-up of Black Sabbath was Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. With albums such as Paranoid and Master of Reality forming a part of heavy metal history, Black Sabbath are legends of the genre and Ozzy’s larger than life persona transcends the musical industry, as his exploits in reality TV have clearly demonstrated.
UB40 are not only one of Birmingham’s most successful bands, they are one of the UK’s as well. Hailing from the Birmingham suburbs of Balsall Heath, Moseley and Kings Heath, UB40s Birmingham take on reggae has proved to be a fantastic formula for success and they have sold millions of albums worldwide.
The line-up may have changed and there may have been a few fallings out but UB40 can still sell out arena tours and they remain one of Birmingham’s most successful musical exports.
Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra have had a bit of a renaissance of late. Recent appearances at Glastonbury and a UK tour has reminded everybody how talented they really are. Lead man Jeff Lynne is respected the world over for being a great songwriter and his time with The Traveling Wilburys has seen him working with many legends of the music industry including Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Tom Petty.
A fusion of rock and classical music, the heyday of ELO was in the seventies to mid-eighties where they achieved 27 Top 40 singles in the UK and US. ELO’s concert tours have gained a reputation for their staging and they have attracted a new audience of younger fans since their Glastonbury appearance.
Nobody represents the eighties quite like Duran Duran. Their string of hits including Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry like the wolf and many more, dominated the eighties and even today, the band commands a loyal worldwide audience.
In their heyday, Duran Duran sold over 80 million records and they were equally as successful on both sides of the Atlantic. Known for their lavish videos just as MTV was taking off, Duran Duran rode the wave of new technology more successfully than any band of its time and they will forever be an icon of that era.
The Moody Blues
Formed in the Birmingham district of Erdington in 1964 and still touring now, The Moody Blues have sold over 70 million albums worldwide with their heady fusion of rock and classical music. Probably best known for ‘Nights in White Satin’, The Moody Blues have influenced bands such as Genesis, Yes, Deep Purple and ELO with their rich symphonic sound.
Okay, you could argue that Led Zeppelin are not truly a Birmingham band but with lead singer Robert Plant being from Kidderminster and the late great John Bonham being from Redditch, Birmingham are claiming them. Regarded by many as the greatest rock band ever to grace the earth, Led Zeppelin have sold over 250 million albums worldwide and are one of the most influential bands on the planet.
Led Zeppelin are the second best selling band in the US behind The Beatles and have been described by the Rolling Stone magazine as ‘unquestionably one of the most enduring bands in history.’ What do you think of that then Manchester?!
With over 45 million albums sold to date, Birmingham heavy metal band Judas Priest are well established rock superstars. The line-up may have changed over the years but this hasn’t hindered their success. Winning a grammy award in 2010 and their songs being featured in video games such as Guitar Heroes and Rock Band has introduced Judas Priest to new audiences and they continue to wow their fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
You couldn’t have a list of top 10 Birmingham bands without a Ska band being included and proudly representing the city we have The Beat. Founded in 1978, The Beat’s fusion of ska, pop, punk, soul and reggae became a big part of the 2 Tone Ska revival in the late seventies, early eighties. With hits including Too nice to talk to, Mirror in the bathroom and Can’t get uses to losing you, The Beat are still going strong today and winning legions of new fans.
Dexys Midnight Runners
Rising to fame in early to mid-eighties with massive hits ‘Come on Eileen’ and ‘Geno’, Dexys Midnight Runners scored six more Top 20 singles in the eighties . Today, simply called Dexys, they enjoy a loyal cult following and critical success. The line-up has changed over the years but Kevin Rowland, despite his well documented personal drug problems , has remained a constant.
A mix of soul, celtic, folk and new wave, Dexys are one of Birmingham’s more bohemian bands and they continue to experiment with their sound.
Hailing from the Handsworth area of Birmingham, Steel Pulse were the first non-Jamaican act to win a Grammy award for the best reggae album. This roots reggae band from one of the most racially diverse areas of Birmingham have been gracing the stages since the mid-1970s and they have headlined numerous reggae festivals across the world.
Demonstrating Birmingham’s culturally diverse musical landscape, Steel Pulse are still going strong and winning new fans with their uncompromising musical catalogue.
So, there you have it. Once again, we know we’ve missed out some notable bands such as Ocean Colour Scene, Editors and The Streets but that’s why music is so personal. Just because they didn’t make our list, doesn’t mean we don’t rate them. What do you think? What bands would make your list and do you think Birmingham bands wipe the floor with Manchester bands? Let us know.