Nocturno Culto and Fenriz are a Norwegian black metal duo who have made 16 albums, including Total Death and The Roots of Evilness, although they have not played live for two decades. Fenriz (real name Gylve Nagell) moonlights as DJ Fenriz on SoundCloud and is also a postal worker and local councillor in Kolbotn, an Oslo suburb; his campaign slogan was “Don’t vote for me”, but they did. Darkthrone’s 2016 album, Arctic Thunder, has been described as “an epic squall of old-school metal riffing and frostbitten atmospherics”. Judge for yourself.
Scottish pop-rockers, formed in 1985 and still going strong (after a five-year break in the 90s). The name comes from Deacon Blues, by Steely Dan, Donald Fagen’s attempt to coin a nickname for “the nerds and losers”. (The Deacon Blues are also a gang in William Gibson’s 1988 sci-fi novel Mona Lisa Overdrive, which itself gave its name to another band.) Getting back to Deacon Blue, here’s the original Real Gone Kid from 1988 and, sounding better than ever, a live version in 2017.
The 1954 doowop classic The Wind, by Nolan Strong and The Diablos, was the first R&B song the great singer-songwriter Laura Nyro heard; she later recorded it on her soul covers album, Gonna Take a Miracle. The Diablos evolved into The Velvet Angels, without lead singer Nolan Strong, of whom Lou Reed said: “If I could really sing, I’d be Nolan Strong.”
The Dixie Cups
Sisters Barbara Ann and Rosa Lee Hawkins and their cousin Joan Marie Johnson came from New Orleans. They were The Meltones, then (to avoid confusion with jazz singer Mel Tormé’s backing group) they became Little Miss and The Muffets, before Mike Stoller renamed them after their southern origins. Chapel of Love, written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Phil Spector, became a huge hit for them in 1964 and has remained enduringly popular. Iko Iko, another hit, was even better.
Does It Offend You, Yeah?
The newspapers really hated this Reading dance-punk quartet’s name, a quotation from David Brent in the classic BBC sitcom The Office (“My drinking – does it offend you, yeah?”). The Observer reported in 2008: “Despite their abysmal band name, this Reading four-piece aren’t offensive in the slightest.” The following year in The Guardian, Pete Cashmore called it “the worst band name in the history of popular music”. (It isn’t.) They broke up in 2015.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite” wrote William Blake (1757-1827) in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Aldous Huxley described his experiments with mescaline in 1953 in an essay entitled, after Blake, The Doors of Perception (read it here). And Jim Morrison named his band, after Huxley, The Doors. Keyboard player Ray Manzarek had been in Rick & The Ravens and drummer John Densmore was in The Psychedelic Rangers. Hugely successful from 1966 until Morrison’s death in 1971, and enduringly popular, The Doors boasted the most charismatic frontman in rock and a nice line in slogans (“we want the world and we want it now”; “they’ve got the guns but we’ve got the numbers”). Light My Fire, their thrilling first hit, was as good as anything that followed. Post-Doors, Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger formed The Butts Band and Manzarek Nite City. Krieger and Manzarek later performed as The Doors of the 21st Century (with Ian Astbury of The Cult in the Morrison role), D21C, and Riders on the Storm, settling on Manzarek-Krieger after legal action from Densmore. Fact check: neither Blake nor Huxley (nor Morrison) ever said “there are things you know about, and things you don’t, and in between are the doors” – it was Ray Manzarek.
Russian for “Two Planes”, they are longstanding figures in the St Petersburg underground, playing what the Guardian describes as “unusual ska-Latin fusion accompanied by lyrics sung in quasi-African gibberish”. Judge for yourself.