ufoIt’s that time of the week again when our resident classic rocker waxes lyrical…

…and this week he considers the age-old debate surrounding band names.

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If you had a band, what would you call it?

We’ve all had that thought somewhere down the line, haven’t we?

I can remember having the conversation in the pub with my mates and some of the names that cropped up were ingenious, some leftfield, some stupid and one or two, downright freakish.

There was one guy who claims he came up with “Legs And Co” several months before the Top Of The Pops’ dance troupe first emerged.

Another mentioned Motley Crue, years before the LA hair-metallers surfaced.

Me? I recall thinking Doctor may be a good group name or Volcano or even Titanic.

The one pal who did actually go on and form a band named them Nightshift and they’re actually reforming in a couple of months’ time for his 50th birthday (that’s a pint you owe me for the plug, Matt!)

Is there such a thing as a good name or a bad name?  I wonder.

Would Guns N Roses have been as successful if they’d been called Rifles N Roses or Guns N Lilies?

Imagine if Meatloaf had been Meatpie or Whitesnake had been Bluesnake.

Does Lake, Palmer and Emerson have a ring to it or Nash, Stills and Crosby?

What if Fleetwood Mac had been named after the creative genius of the original group?  Green Mac anyone?

In this internet age, sometimes it’s advisable to be distinctive.

Google A Band Of Skulls for example and the first entries that come up all relate to that band – a new favourite of mine incidentally.

The same goes for newish bands such as The Temperance Movement, Blackberry Smoke and Augustines.

But what about Massive, whose hugely enjoyable new album, Full Throttle, is given away in this month’s issue of Classic Rock (another plug!)?

Not a particularly good name I would suggest. For starters, there is already a well-establish group called Massive Attack out there.

And the word “massive”  as an everyday adjective is hardly distinctive.

Music has, in one sense, gone back to the sixties in name derivation. Back then, we had The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Doors and so on.

And today, names are invariably preceded by the word ‘The’. There’s even one band called The The!!

Some bands of yesteryear, had they been formed today, might very well have decided against calling themselves what they did.

AC/DC were quickly made aware by the Young brothers’ sister that they could be construed as a bi-sexual band rather than one that generates high voltage electricity.

And I’m sure Queen frontman Freddie Mercury broke into an impish smile when it was brought to his attention what some would think of the band name.

What about Rainbow? If a group was formed today bearing that name, it would be fair to assume it was named thus as a vehicle to promote same-sex equality.

I doubt that entered the mind of Richie Blackmore back in 1974. For that matter, Bungle, Zippy and George probably didn’t analyse the bigger picture when the children’s TV programme Rainbow was first aired!

A quick glance through my music collection shows that letters A and B are the most popular starting letters for groups, I, X and Z, not surprisingly the least popular.

Do different genres prefer certain letters? Well no but some seem to be more fashionable than others.

At the start of the millennium, the only artists grouped under K were Kate Bush, The Kinks and Krokus. Now the K category has swelled more than ten-fold with the emergence of The Killers, Kasabian, Keane, Kaiser Chiefs and Kings of Leon.

Another observation. The number of rock groups whose names start with Black. Is it in homage to the legendary Black Sabbath?

The now-defunct Black Country Communion, Black Crowes, the Black Keys, Black Mountain, Black Spiders, Black Stone Cherry and Blackberry Smoke could all be said to have been influenced to some extent by the heavy metal pioneers.

Names come and go but one thing I think I can say with some certainty.

ZZ Top’s collection of CDs will remain at the bottom of my collection for many years to come!

Ian Murtagh