The answer is no, but they are an interesting selection of writer Bart Bull’s favourites, listed in his book Battle of the Band Names (Abrams Image, 2009), subtitled The Best and Worst Band Names Ever (“and all the brilliant, colourful, stupid ones in between”).
His list actually includes 102 names, but for some reason Judas Priest appear twice. Maybe he just really, really likes them. Mistakes always creep in to these books: Ultimate Spinach are repeatedly given a superfluous “The”, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen become “Commander Cody and the Los Planet Airmen” and, unless it’s a joke, Jelly Roll Morton never worked with Red Hot Chili Peppers, having died in 1941. (He did play with The Red Hot Peppers.) Less forgivably, Snoop Doggy Dogg becomes “Snoop Doggie Dogg” – doesn’t the author, or his editor, know that “the world keeps spinning to the D-O-double-G-Y”?
This is nitpicking, because this is a wonderful read, by some way the most entertaining book in the genre. It lists hundreds of band names, including many I’d never heard of (some of which, for all I know, he may have made up), but it’s much more than just a book of lists: Bull writes well, and is very funny. The section contrasting guitar instrumentalists The Ventures with the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia – “practising pedal steel on three-chord country songs for like two or three hours on stage” – is hilarious.
Bull is nothing if not obsessive. If you are interested in Appetite for Deception, and two dozen other Guns N’ Roses tribute bands, you will find them here. There are reggae names, punk names, rockabilly names, metal names, bands that include the word “teens”, bands that include the name “tones”, Brothers, Playboys, and Ramblers. And Lee Harvey Skaswald.
Bull strays on to contentious territory in his section on the worst band names, in which he mysteriously includes The Electric Flag and It’s a Beautiful Day, while leaving out The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie, who themselves described their name, without exaggeration, as “dumb” and “moronic”.
However, I forgive, and indeed envy, the author for his blissful ignorance of the fact that a trio named Bun ‘nd Cheese once appeared on The X Factor.
Like all the band name books, so far as I am aware, this one is out of print, but readily available secondhand.
Getting back to his selection of the best names, such things are of course subjective but it’s hard to argue with the choice of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Richard Hell and The Voidoids, and New Riders of the Purple Sage – all the perfect combination of form and function. Others, well – Armored Saint, really? And is The Beatles actually a great name?
Anyway, here’s Bull’s list of what he erroneously calls “the top 99 or so greatest band names ever without question (in no particular order)”.
Shot Down Over Equador Jr
The Sex Pistols
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
All Girl Summer Fun Band
Hank Williams and The Drifting Cowboys
The Plastic People of the Universe
James Brown and The New New Super Heavy James Brown Revue
Richard Hell and The Voidoids
Top Jimmy and The Rhythm Pigs
Reparata and The Delrons
The Beverly Hillbillies
Earth, Wind & Fire
The Circle Jerks
Faith No More
The Shadows of Knight
King Midas and The Mufflers
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
Corrosion of Conformity
The Screamin’ Sirens
Buck Owens and The Buckaroos
The Upsetters (“from New Orleans or Jamaica, take your pick”)
Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Chili [sic] Peppers
Jack Off Jill
Cradle of Filth
X (“from Australia, Japan, and Los Angeles, take your pick”)
Blue Öyster Cult
The Killer Barbies
Professor Longhair and His Shuffling Hungarians
The Brides of Funkenstein
James Brown and The Famous Flames
The Rhythm Orchids
Sam The Sham and The Pharoahs
Disco Tex and The Sex-O-Lettes
The Sons of the Pioneers
Manic Street Preachers
The Treacherous Three
The Gun Club
The Teenage Kings of Harmony
Stark Naked and The Car Thieves
I Spit On Your Gravy
The Soup Dragons
Built To Spill
Brenda and The Tabulations
The Angry Samoans
The Fatback Band
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
Nine Inch Nails
The Meat Puppets
Rage Against the Machine
Girls Vs Boys (does he mean Girls Against Boys?)
The Pop Group
Martha and The Vandellas
The Rip Chords
Lords of Acid
Booker T and The MG’s
The Bop Kings
The [sic] New Riders of the Purple Sage
The Banana Splits
Judas Priest (again)
If you have read this far, who knows, you may have your own suggestions for best (and worst) band names? Please post below.
Last modified: Jan 23, 2017