Roddy Doyle: “Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was working on a novel about a band called The Partitions. Then I decided to call them The Commitments.”
Former Turtles Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman adopted this guise (the nicknames of their roadies) for contractual reasons while working with Frank Zappa. Kaylan later reflected: “The entire name was a dumb thing to do. Anyone in their right mind, anyone who really intended on having a career in the music business, would eschew such a moniker in a heartbeat. I mean, Air Supply is a better name! The two of us would never be able to shake that moronic handle.” Generally known as Flo & Eddie, they were much in demand as backing singers, performing on Hot Love by T Rex and many other recordings.
Italian dance music ensemble whose name speaks for itself: they are, undeniably, funky. Their first single, Chase the Sun (2001) is popular with darts and other sports fans; Stop Me (2006) was the first single released exclusively as a mobile phone download. They also did a celebrated remix of New Order’s Waiting for the Siren’s Call and, even better, People on the High Line.
Procol Harum was a Siamese cat that belonged to a friend of their manager. Or rather, Procul Harun (Latin for “beyond these things”) was the cat’s name, but according to singer Gary Brooker, they spelt it wrong when they took it down over the phone. Fellow band member Keith Reid later said he thought it was “a silly name”. A bit more interesting, though, than The Paramounts, their previous incarnation. (A friend of The Paramounts suggested Liquorice John Death as an alternative and Procol Harum later released an album under this name.) Everyone in the world has heard A Whiter Shade of Pale, an international phenomenon in 1967, but Procol Harum were no one-hit wonders, making a string of excellent albums.
Formed in 2006 in New York and initially known as The How to Grow a Band, they changed their name the following year to The Tensions Mountain Boys before finally settling on Punch Brothers, from Mark Twain’s short story A Literary Nightmare – the tale of how he developed an earworm after hearing this railroad jingle: “Punch, brothers! Punch with care! Punch in the presence of the passenjare!” Punch Brothers’ music has been described as “progressive bluegrass”; it’s extraordinary, and brilliant.
“The lacklustre band name – picked because main members Neil and Sharon Finn formed Pyjama Club while lounging in their jim-jams one night – is a terrible introduction to an unexpectedly off-kilter project by the Crowded House leader and his wife,” was the verdict of The Guardian’s Caroline Sullivan (16 September 2011), and no one here is going to disagree. There was one album, in 2011; here they are playing in an alley in St Kilda, Australia, the following year. Neil introduces them as The Pyjama Club (not “Pyjama Club”), and he should know.