Cover Story: 13 defunct Atlanta bands that coulda been contenders

Baby and the Pacifiers — Poised to be a national phenom from West Peachtree, Baby Maurice and his punky new wave glam boys almost hit the big time with their local hit single, “After You Jump (Can I Have Your Stereo).”

The Brains -- The ’80s new-wavers only had two albums and an EP, but with Tom Gray’s “Money Changes Everything” (a career highlight for Cyndi Lauper), and Gray recently reappearing in Delta Moon, they were far more influential than their meager sales suggest.

Dragline — Like a ’90s version of the Standells (whose “Try It” they often performed), this pure rock ‘n’ roll band came off like America’s answer to the early ’60s Rolling Stones.

Dry County — An all-female country/rock group fronted by two beautiful lead vocalists both named Lisa, this combo had talent, charisma, incredible chops and some fabulous, unbelievably catchy original songs (“Dear John I’m Leaving on the Old John Deere”).

Gracie Moon — With the astonishing vocal talents of blond diva Holly Baumann and a rock-solid R&B combo behind her, this band was a genuinely electrifying live act.

Guadalcanal Diary — Straddling the fence between rock and new wave — and between both the Atlanta and Athens music scenes — the Diary turned every live show into a sizzling, no-holds-barred “Watusi Rodeo.”

The Jody Grind — A tragic highway accident curtailed the career of this beloved, delightfully offbeat lounge/pop combo, which served as the first major showcase for the stunning vocal prowess of Kelly Hogan.

Kathleen Turner Overdrive — The cleverly named KTO consisted of four guys with the energy and stamina of the Ramones, the melodic talents of drivin’ n’ cryin’ and a remarkable knack for powerful group-vocals. But success completely eluded them, even while acts such as Green Day, Rancid and the Offspring were selling in the millions.

The Nightporters — The champions of the Pershing Point/Blue Rat Gallery crowd, the Nightporters were punks-without-the-posing, a band that let its triumphant music express their rebel spirit all on its own.

Michele Malone and Drag the River — With Malone’s powerhouse prowess on both vocals and guitar, backed up by a band who sounded like the Exile-era Stones, this outfit should have owned the pop charts; but even a deal with Arista and producer Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) couldn’t make that happen.

P.A. — In with the Dungeon Family before there was a name for it, this hip-hop trio grew into a self-contained unit capable of great rapping, inventive hooks and sharp production. When it never translated to a breakthrough, leader Kawan Prather jumped the fence and became a record executive.

Viva la Diva — If Melissa Etheridge had fronted Fleetwood Mac, they might have sounded something like this astonishing quartet whose onstage charisma and powerful modern-rock stylings still glow sweetly in the memory of anyone who experienced their live shows.

Wild West Picture Show — The sassy charm of singer Keli Mercadante should have been enough on its own to rocket this exuberant band to national prominence; but instead the band earned a sizeable following the old-fashioned way, playing smoky bars and captivating small but dedicated pockets of fans throughout the Southeast.??