BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 6: E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt points to the crowd during the first night of Bruce Springsteen's concert series at Fenway Park September 6, 2003 in Boston, Massachusetts. Springsteen is performing the first-ever rock concerts at Fenway Park September 6 and 7.

10 Classic Jersey Rock Songs – Each in my humble opinion- should have been bigger hits than they were on radio and in record sales. (Ahhhhh who remembers record sales? – I still love vinyl)

It’s Terrie Carr, and being a music lover and Jersey girl all of my life, I have always (even pre-WDHA days) been enamored with the incredible talent in the Garden State. Recently I was watching the HBO Documentary about Steven Van Zandt – “Disciple” (Check out the trailer below) and kept asking myself – “How were these tunes not bigger hits”? Every time I hear “Forever” – I go nuts! A love song- with THE quintessential New Jersey sound. I also came across an old “Frankie and The Knockouts” record when cleaning the basement- Such a GOOD jersey band and “Sweetheart” was a classic. Do you remember?

So- Let’s Feature Some Jersey Songs That SHOULD Have Been Bigger!

As I usually do, I tried to keep my list diverse. Metal, Singer Songwriter, Stoner Rock, the common thread is THESE tunes (from New Jersey artists exclusively) are solid, unique, and never got what they deserved. How did I choose? Well, being from the state of New Jersey is not the only qualifier.

NOW, why not include a band like Trixter? (I know someone is going to ask me) Because their songs were the #1 most requested on MTV. I’m talking, tunes that went under the radar, from artists who deserved more from their crafting of these gems than they got. Whether it’s in the writing or delivering of the tune. I can hear a hit. A song that makes you feel good. A song that rocks. A song that connects.

So Why Doesn’t A Song Become a Hit If It’s Solid?

NJ Rocks Local Baby
TC Collection
One of The early WDHA NJ Rock albums

Sometimes timing is EVERYTHING when releasing music. There are many factors including changing musical climates, record company staff and priorities, contractual issues, and band dynamics just to name a few. Some of the bands on this list got caught up in musical trends holding them back, confusion with labels and management, and just plain bad timing.

I remember when I heard that #10 on my list got dropped from his record label I was shocked! So much potential- such a killer debut. WDHA tried to find hitmakers in the early days with a series of “WDHA N.J. ROCK” albums- boy was that fun!

So check out my list and hit me up with your suggestions at [email protected] 

Follow me on Instagram too and I’ll follow you back – Follow Terrie Carr @TCROCKDOG

Also See

Rock On Jersey! 

  • 1. Glen Burtnick - Follow You

    New Jersey legend Glen Burtnick is such a talent and his 1988 release “Heroes and Zeros” is New Jersey magic. “Follow You” was the album’s first single, got some MTV airplay and to me is hands down one of the best songs of the 1980’s. Raw, emotional and sounding like nothing else at that time. “Follow You” will always be a SMASH to me!

  • 2. John Eddie - Jungle Boy

    John Eddie was like a rocking George Michael! How this guy was not a superstar always boggled my mind.  Catchy tunes, looks and rock you can dance to. Perfect. Full disclosure- John was not born in New Jersey, but moved here in the 1970’s and the rest is history. I can’t tell you how many times I saw John over the years in the NJ club scene and he is still a fantastic performer. How was the catchy, rockabilly tinged “Jungle Boy” not a bigger hit? Criminal- It’s such a fun song.

  • 3. Mr. Reality- In My Yard

    I remember this being one of our most requested songs on WDHA in the early 1990’s and rightfully so.  With amazing harmonies, and catchy songs from Gordon, Rob and Pete, Mr. Reality was a fabulous trio, ruled the Jersey shore and scored a record deal. Unfortunately, they emerged at a time when grunge was king and the music business was changing constantly. Thankfully the guys are still music makers. Don’t know- “In My Yard”? Give it a listen.

  • 4. From Good Homes- Cool Me Down

    From Good Homes were the originators of “Hick Pop” and at a time when Blues Traveler and the Horde Festival were the musical trend, I couldn’t imagine how this Sparta NJ based band was not bigger. “Cool Me Down” was one of the original jam rockers. Still sounds great.

  • 5. Little Steven and The Disciples Of Soul - Forever

    One of my favorite New Jersey Rock songs, whenever I play this one on the air (I did this week after the incredible “Stevie Van Zandt- Disciple” HBO Doc) I can’t believe it wasn’t a complete smash for this crafter of the Jersey shore sound.  When “Miami Steve”, became “Little Steven”, I admit as a young fan, I was confused, but with age comes wisdom and it’s clear that “Forever” is a hit record and didn’t get the respect it deserved.

  • 6. Fiona- Talk To Me

    Fiona Flannigan! I loved this song so much. A strong woman with a strong message, I was shocked this tune wasn’t a huge hit for this Phillipsburg NJ rocker. Fiona went on to star in “Hearts Of Fire” with Bob Dylan, had a minor hit with Kip Winger (You’re Sexing Me) and was on Miami Vice. She once emailed me after hearing about the Queens Of Noise show- And I was soooooo excited! She’s still in Jersey too I believe. “Talk To Me” should have topped the charts. Such a good song.

  • 7. Monster Magnet- Space Lord

    One of the greatest songs of 1998- from MM, a band from the Red Bank area, Space Lord did relatively well when it came out, but never got the respect it deserved. Monster Magnet sounded so unique, there was no one like them. The video is a 1990’s stoner band masterpiece. It’s still a heavy timeless classic to me.

  • 8. Dramarama- Last Cigarette

     Described as a “minor rock radio hit” – Last Cigarette is a KILLER song that came out in 1989 and when I first started at WDHA, everyone was calling for it! And they should have! It’s a fantastic rock/alternative/pop smash that ROCKS from a New Jersey band that formed out of the basement of a record store in Wayne NJ.

  • 9. American Angel- How Can I Miss You

    Big hair, big riffs and big vocals- “How Can I Miss You” from Monmouth County’s “American Angel” was all the rage in Jersey with the Studio One metal crowd, and I thought these guys were destined for hair metal stardom! This is still a fun, power ballad meets anthem jam, and I thought it would be bigger!  

  • 10. Neal Casal- Day In The Sun

    When Denville NJ born Neal Casal released “Fade Away Diamond Time” in 1995, it quickly became on of my favorite records of that year. It’s still a release I love listening to. “Day In The Sun” was the only single, and was such a beautiful, lesson in storytelling. It was a smash, that unfortunately was never allowed to happen. We played it constantly at WDHA. We lost Neal in 2019. A sad day for New Jersey.

  • 11. BONUS PICK- Saraya- Love Has Taken It's Toll

     I have included this Bergen County band in a previous story about New Jersey Women In Rock, and it was surprising that Saraya didn’t make more noise as when they were signed their singer Sandi was called “The Female Jon Bon Jovi”- (I always thought that was kind of weird…but anyway) – After two albums, a marriage to Tesla’s bassist and minor MTV success, Saraya disbanded, but their fanbase remained loyal and it’s surprising that this banger wasn’t a bigger hit.

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