“Macc” is what everyone who lives in the Cheshire town calls Macclesfield, although not everyone chooses to rhyme it, as did The Macc Lads, with “knackers feeled”. They were rude, crude, lewd, generally drunk – and very funny, in a Viz comic sort of way. Middle-class Guardian-reading types who feel guilty about liking their work can tell themselves it’s ironic; The Macc Lads would just tell them to fuck off. The classic line-up was Muttley McLad (real name Tristan O’Neill), The Beater, and Stez Styx (later known as Johnny Mard). Local Tory MP Nicholas Winterton surprised no one by revealing that their music was “not the sort of thing I want my daughter to hear“. The best album for newcomers to their oeuvre is Beer Sex Chips N Gravy (1985). The band pioneered advisory notes on album covers with the warning “Not for sale to minors (or engineers)”.
The Macc Lads
The North London Invaders became, briefly, Morris and The Minors, then renamed themselves Madness after Prince Buster’s song Madness is Gladness. Their first single was The Prince and the link to the “king of ska” continued with the follow-up, One Step Beyond, a Prince Buster song. Members of Madness have appeared in various incarnations down the years, as The Dangermen, The Fink Brothers, The Madness, The Nutty Brothers, and Crunch!
In a mildly amusing Battle of the Band scene in the uninspired Ricky Gervais 2016 mockumentary David Brent: Life on the Road, the promoter reveals that one of the bands, Madonna Kebab, have failed to show up.
In School of Rock, mild-mannered supply teacher Ned Schneebly (Mike White, who wrote the film) gets a reminder from Dewey (Jack Black) that things were very different when they played together in Maggot Death. Ned replies: “Dewey – I’m not a Satanic sex god any more.”
The Manhattan Transfer
Manhattan Transfer was a station in New Jersey, a few miles west of New York on the Pennsylvania Railroad Line, from 1910 to 1937, and the title of a 1925 novel by John Dos Passos, from which this great jazz vocal group took their name. Formed in 1969 and re-formed four years later with a new line-up, they made a succession of superb albums and enjoyed popular success with, among other classy singles, Chanson D’Amour (a UK No 1) and The Boy from New York City. But for sheer vocal perfection, their a cappella version of Tom Waits’ Foreign Affair is a real tour de force.
Meat Loaf Soul
Marvin Lee Aday’s mom, Wilma, was a member of a gospel group called The Vo-di-odo Girls. Meat Loaf Soul, young Marvin’s first band, took their name from the nickname given him by a football coach. Subsequent incarnations of the band included Popcorn Blizzard and Floating Circus. Don’t call him “Meatloaf” unless you want him to slap and choke you.
Fictional heroes of David Keenan’s fine 2017 novel, This is Memorial Device, based on the author’s experiences growing up in Airdrie, Scotland, during the post-punk years: “Post-punk spoke to us in Airdrie in a way that made us believe the centre of the world was exactly where we were standing – and we had better do something about it.”
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing
Putting the punk into steampunk since 2008, Londoners who describe themselves as “crusty punk meets cockney sing-songs meets grindcore in the 1880s [sic]”. The name is a reference to the cryptic message found chalked above a bloodstained apron thought to have been discarded by Jack the Ripper as he fled a the scene of a murder. Their first album, Now That’s What I Call Steampunk! Volume 1, was hastily renamed The Steampunk Album That Cannot Be Named For Legal Reasons after legal threats from EMI. What does steampunk sound like, you ask? It sounds like this. The band are currently (late 2016) on tour.
The Merry Jaynz
From Knoxville, Tennessee (birthplace of the bluesman Brownie McGhee), The Merry Jaynz play “underground swamp rock”. They used to be Electric Healing, but decided a name change was in order after their drummer left and three gigs with a stand-in turned out to be “horrible”. A friend suggested The Mary Janes; the idiosyncratic spelling was inspired by numerology. You can see and hear them on their website.
The Miami Relatives
The Million Dollar Quartet
Not so much a band, more a one-off supergroup, a decade or more before that description became fashionable. On 4 December 1956, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash recorded an impromptu jam session at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. “Million Dollar Quartet” was the headline on a local newspaper report of the occasion. In all, 46 tracks from the session, many incomplete, have been released, including these. Cash, Lewis and Perkins recorded The Survivors Live in 1982 and, with Roy Orbison, as Class of ’55 three years later. (The four had also performed together on the Johnny Cash Christmas Special in 1977, a matter of months after Elvis’s death.)
Miss Black America
They weren’t black, and they weren’t American: they were a white rock band from Bury St Edmunds, a town in Suffolk, England. who released a couple of albums before breaking up in 2006. They had a very cool name, however, and here’s why. Three of them went on to form Ten City Nation.
Molly & The Ringwalds
“The premier new wave 80s party band of Houston, Texas.” They look better than they sound. Here’s their take on Come On Eileen. Not to be confused with …
The Molly Ringwalds
The Mooney Suzuki
You’d be hard put to guess how these New York garage rockers, formed in 1996, chose their name unless you happened to know that the hugely influential 70s krautrock experimentalists Can featured Andrew Mooney, an American sculptor, on vocals until he had a breakdown and was replaced by Damo Suzuki. (At least four other bands, including Spoon, are named after Can songs or albums.) The Mooney Suzuki singer and guitarist Sammy James Jr co-wrote the superb title song for School of Rock. Here they are, Alive & Amplified.
Quartet of British politicians, three MPs and a fourth who lost his seat at the 2010 general election. Keyboard player Pete Wishart (Scottish National Party, Perth and North Perthshire) was a member of Runrig, and is one of two current MPs to have appeared on Top of the Pops (the other, Conservative ex-hairdresser David Morris, was a member of Rick Astley’s backing band). After listening to this example of MP4’s work, if you want to hear more, which seems unlikely, they are the house band on Unspun, a satirical show launched on the Dave channel in September 2016.
Mugwumps were Republicans who switched to the Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland, in the 1884 US presidential election, in protest at corruption linked to the Republican candidate, James G Blaine. The Mugwumps comprised two fine folk singers, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliott, who became half of The Mamas and The Papas, and two excellent musicians, John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, who also found fame and fortune in The Lovin’ Spoonful. A fifth member, Jon Hendricks, Elliott’s husband, formed the short-lived The Lamp of Childhood. The Mamas and The Papas’ autobiographical 1967 song Creeque Alley recalled: “When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps; called John and Zal, and that was The Mugwumps.” From their only LP, this is Here It Is, Another Day.
The Myddle Class
New Jersey garage rock outfit, initially The King Bees (they changed their name because there was another US band of that name; note the fashionable “Byrds Y”). They recorded a cover version of Dylan’s Gates of Eden in 1965, the year in which The Velvet Underground, playing their first ever gig, opened for them in a high school concert. Singer David Palmer later joined Steely Dan; another member married Carole King after her divorce from Gerry Goffin; another was murdered. Don’t Let Me Sleep Too Long is worth a listen.
The Mystery Girls
The Mystery Girls (Pete Burns, Julian Cope, Phil Hurst, Pete Wylie – a pretty cool line-up) played one gig, opening for Sham 69 at Eric’s in Liverpool on 4 November 1977.