King Crimson

If there is one group that embodies progressive rock, it is King Crimson. Led by guitar/Mellotron virtuoso Robert Fripp, during its first five years of existence the band stretched both the language and structure of rock into realms of jazz and classical music, all the while avoiding pop and psychedelic sensibilities. The absence of mainstream compromises and the lack of an overt sense of humor ultimately doomed the group to nothing more than a large cult following, but made their albums among the most enduring and respectable of the prog rock era.

Kiss

Rooted in the campy theatrics of Alice Cooper and the sleazy hard rock of glam rockers the New York Dolls, Kiss became a favorite of American teenagers in the '70s. Most kids were infatuated with the look of Kiss, not their music. Decked out in outrageously flamboyant costumes and makeup, the band fashioned a captivating stage show featuring dry ice, smoke bombs, elaborate lighting, blood spitting, and fire breathing that captured the imaginations of thousands of kids. But Kiss' music shouldn't be dismissed -- it was a commercially potent mix of anthemic, fist-pounding hard rock driven by sleek hooks and ballads powered by loud guitars, cloying melodies, and sweeping strings. It was a sound that laid the groundwork for both arena rock and the pop-metal that dominated rock in the late '80s.

Cockney Rebel

Fronted by ex-journalist Steve Harley (born Steven Nice), Cockney Rebel first stirred in mid-1973 with the release of the epochal single "Sebastian." With a lineup selected as much for its classical versatility as its rock punch, but with little care for the orchestral conceits which marred other bands of that ilk, Cockney Rebel debuted with one of the most widely acclaimed albums of the year. The Human Menagerie succeeded in appearing both epic and concise at the same time and, while neither album nor single charted, both paved the way for what even cynics knew was an imminent breakthrough.Harley himself, meanwhile, was a brilliant self-publicist, adding his own very loud voice to the tide of approval which greeted Cockney Rebel's early work. Reading the group's press, it was often difficult to determine where Harley's ambition ended and the journalist's praise began, but that, too, added to the buzz which surrounded them. So much fevered activity finally paid off in spring 1974 with the release of "Judy Teen," the group's second single and an immediate Top Ten hit.

Kingdom Come

Few new bands have caused as much of a stir with the release of their debut single and few have, simultaneously, generated so much backlash as German hard rockers Kingdom Come did with "Get It On." Mistaken by many fans as a reunion of the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, the quintet was derisively known to some as "Kingdom Clone." Signed to Polydor, lead singer Lenny Wolf put together a band and entered the studio with producer Bob Rock, an engineer and musician who would later find success working with Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, and Metallica. When "Get It On" was leaked to several radio stations around the U.S., it generated considerable buzz due to the speculation about the "mystery" band.