Todd’s new band is called Hard Working Americans, and their self-titled new album was released in the UK this week. It’s brilliant, and you should all buy it. (Especially you, Stewart Wood, as I half wonder if a left slanted country rock album featuring Neil Young, Randy Newman and Bottle Rockets covers wasn’t made specifically for you)
Anyway, what I really like is the band name. There aren’t enough political clichés that have become band names. So here’s my top ten political clichés that should really have been band names. (Thanks to many people on Twitter for inspiration)
10. Squeezed Middle
Britain’s Eurovision entry for 2004 were the Cheeky Girls of their moment. Effectively an advert for corsetry in pop form, Squeezed middle’s brief pop career was followed by a somewhat longer Reality TV career for their three pneumatic vocalists.
9. Tough Choices
Originally a hard metal band from Pittsburgh, Tough Choices ended up as poodle rock pioneers whose choices mostly revolved around whether to get drunk or high. Their 1987 multi-platinum sophomore effort ‘Lines to take’ explored these themes exhaustively, as did the band, leading to their break up.
8. The Promise of Britain.
(This is an odd one, as it’s a cliché even though only Ed Miliband uses it).
The Promise of Britain are a neo-prog rock supergroup. Their first album, ‘Together in the National Interest’ is ranked with British Sea Power as the definitive album for University Engineering students.
7. The Third Way
Achingly cool nouvelle vague, whose thirteen minute ‘A new dawn has broken’ is a caustic hymn to the morning after the night before.
6. Innovation Nation
Cruelly dubbed ‘Birmingham’s premier Krafktwerk tribute band’, IN haven’t let the sneers stop them build a career as Electronica for the dubstep generation. ‘A race to the Top’ is no ‘Autobahn’, but it’s no M25 either.
5. On Your Side
Nineties boy band OYS pioneered the “Gay Club to Pop charts” route to fame. OYS had three years of mega-stardom before apparent gangland links of lead vocalist Muley led to their rapid fall from grace. Still, we’ll always have ‘Forward (Not Back)’.
4. Hear Hear
Reggae pioneers Hear Hear might not have had the fame of Marley, but they never lost their audience. Still touring to packed arena halls today, Hear Hear have outlasted almost every band of their generation, and their recent album ‘Mister Speaker’ still topped the US Reggae charts.
3. Up And Down The Country
Johnny Marr’s post Smiths’ Country band showed that the guitar legend could play a mean slide guitar. Before their time, they never went mainstream, but their second album ‘These strikes are wrong’ was a savage indictment of post-Thatcher Britain with a country twang.
2. Beer and Sandwiches
They’ll never be cool, but forty years of touring and seven Gold albums tells you there’ll always be a good audience for Pub rock with half an eye on Britain’s music hall tradition. Don’t pretend you can’t hum ‘Time for a Change’. We know you can.
1. Metropolitan Liberal Elite
Turned down by seventeen record companies, Newcastle’s MLE persevered and their big break came when touring as support to Depeche Mode on a massive US tour. (Intriguingly, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were going to have that gig, but pulled out.) Suddenly, MLE had an audience of thousands of American twenty-somethings, and their soulful arena-rock with added Synth overload topped by wistful, even downbeat vocals was the sound of the mid nineties.
Soon, MLE were the REM college boys could like. They confounded these expectations with the mega platinum ‘Partisan Pointscoring’ whose stripped down acoustic sound was an instant classic and remains the definitive album of Rock’s post Nirvana reflectiveness. MLE haven’t stopped making hits since, are friends with Presidents and own half of Twitter. Weirdly, they’re the only band ever that are now accused of slowly becoming their originally ironic name.