Why is it that some good bands never make it past the one hit wonder status?
Is is because of bad publicity, inability to get your songs heard on the radio? Or is it just
that these bands' other songs are too far removed from the songs that make them popular?
I would tend to think the latter. Take the band Golden Earring from the seventies era of great rock music. Besides Radar Love and The Twilight Zone, do many people know any of their album filler songs? If one did check them out, they would be pleasantly surprised. They have quite a diverse group of talent and it is nicely reflected in their songs. Listen to: "Candy's going bad; The Devil made me do it; or She flies on strange wings" and you will hear some great sounds. The songs that are played on classic rock stations these days is what I call "junk-Rock". It is not that it is bad Rock, it has just been played to death! Radio has ruined many a great band in this way by playing only what is popular and mandated by conglomerate corporate leaders who think they are playing what the public wants. I know that is partially responsible for the popularity of Satellite radio and ipods. I hardly ever listen to FM radio anymore myself. One rule of thumb for listening to some bands over and over for me is if you don't like what you hear in the beginning, if you listen again and maybe a few more times, sometimes the intent of the music opens up to you with a lasting quality unlike what you get when you like a song instantly. I grew up almost hating Bob Dylan as a performer, thinking that he had the worst voice I had ever heard. After forcing myself to listen to a few performances, I came to really appreciate his way of doing his songs and now his version of some songs represent the true intent or the soul of his music, which is fitting.
Some songs performed by other artists should never be attempted because of the uniqueness of how that artist makes the song come to life. Examples would be many but what comes to mind is The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" or Johnny Cash's "Burning ring of fire." Sure others can attempt to do them, but why waste every one's time. They will never sound as good as the original artists.
One exception to this might be songs performed by Linda Ronstadt. She could take any ones song and breath life into it. Joan Baez was another that could do better Dylan than he could in most cases, but there was something magical between those two....