The musicians, caked in thick mud and entangled with shopping trolleys, empty cider cans and discarded crack cocaine wrappers, are being cleaned and restored by volunteers.
One particularly tough knot of human detritus turned out to be Shed Seven, The Shop Assistants and Klaxons.
Workman Tom Logan said: “Once the worst of the filth was cleaned off, they got Shed Seven running and we heard a brief burst of Going For Goldbefore they stuttered to a halt.”
The bands, thought to have blundered into the canal while drunk and wearing shades at night, are being pieced together by volunteers who have appealed for help from anyone who read the NME between the late 80s and 2002.
EMI executive Joseph Turner said: “It’s all very well putting these bands back together, but there’s only a limited amount of mid-afternoon festival slots and I want those kept free for younger, more attractive folktronica acts.”
Conservationist Carolyn Ryan described the find as “a living relic of more androgynous times”.
She said: “Working out whether a man in skinny jeans was a member of the Wombats, the Guillemots or the Pigeon Detectives is very hard.
“And drummers often have no idea what band they were in because they were at the back and not paying attention.”