originally published January 1, 2013
It’s New Year’s Day, and that means forsaking actual research in lieu of a Holiday Quiz. For me, it’s a big jump forward. I can no longer Google “What Day Of The Year Is It” in order to make sure my article numbering is correct; now I have to do math. But today is not the day to dwell on 2013’s responsibilities. Now is the time to nurse one’s hangover, to put on some music, and to try to remember why we moved the refrigerator into the swimming pool last night.
Today’s quiz topic is music. Specifically, fictional musical groups from the past few decades: from film, television, comic books, literature, and maybe one or two I invented in my head and just never told anyone about (or would that be unfair?). Don’t worry, I won’t be reaching for the super-obscure. There will be no questions about the Beau Brummelstones from The Flintstones or Malachai and His Band from The Real Ghostbusters. Our brains only work so well after a good New Year’s Eve – I respect that.
- This fictional band won’t go away. The subject of a 1984 film, they have probably become the most famous band that isn’t a real band. The above photo is from their ‘other’ band (from another movie), the Folksmen. Seriously, the list of reunions for this heavy metal gag band is tremendous: National Geographic documentaries, a Volkswagen commercial, an environmental benefit concert at Wembley Stadium, as well as three actual album releases. They just announced yet another reunion for a BBC show called Family Tree. Hopefully their drummer will live long enough to see the broadcast. Answer.
- Here’s the sitcom pitch. A man dies, leaving behind a wife and five children. They are well-off, but decide the best way to maintain their standard of living would be to start up a family band. Throw Johnny Cash into the pilot episode. The bass player will grow up and become a regular in celebrity boxing, which will totally become a thing by the 1990’s. Answer.
- Yes, that’s the toga party scene from Animal House, one of the most memorable scenes in a wholly memorable film. But do you remember the name of the band? The same band who played in the classic “the Negroes took our dates” scene later on? They sang the Isley Brothers’ “Shout!”, but they also sang the original Mark Davis composition “Shama Lama Ding Dong”, which is actually a fantastic 60’s soul number for having been written in the late 70’s. This band toured after the movie, though bluesman Robert Cray, who played bass for them in the film, probably wasn’t involved. Answer.
- This one goes out to all my fans who are also fans of pretend Canadian punk rock. The mockumentary about this band is one of the finest Canadian films I’ve ever seen. Director Bruce McDonald aptly follows the gradual decay of a reunited punk band in a 5-city tour of Canada. It’s dark, but intelligent, satirical but with a punch. A must-see, even if you aren’t a fan of punk. Answer.
- Remember the bubblegum-pop songs “Bang-Shang-a-Lang”, “Jingle Jangle” and “Who’s Your Baby?” You don’t? Well, you certainly remember this fictional band’s biggest hit, which would give it away if I mentioned it here. The band was a focus of a 1968-1978 cartoon, based on a comic franchise that dates back to the early 40’s. Here’s your hint: the ‘spoiled bitch’ knew how to play keyboards, but the ‘good girl’ could only shake a tambourine. Also, the drummer’s dog (Hot Dog) was the “mascot and conductor”. Answer.
- In the mid 70’s, a young Cameron Crowe toured with the Allman Brothers, Poco, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd. A couple decades later he bragged about his experiences by making us all wish we’d been there in the film Almost Famous. If you have an impeccable memory for this kind of thing, you might remember the name of the fictional Jason-Lee-fronted band from the movie. There was an actual 70’s band by this name, and they had to sign off in order for Crowe to use the moniker. Answer.
- If you’re a fan of these rodent rockers, then I invite you to never play your music around me, because there’s no way our tastes will ever overlap. Their voices first appeared on a 1958 single called “Witch Doctor” by Ross Bagdasarian Sr. (more cordially known as David Seville). He tweaked his voice later that year for a Christmas single, which launched this obnoxious phenomenon irreversibly into the world. Answer.
- The style for this band is known as ‘jizz-wailers’, which sounds dirty, but actually means they play fast, contemporary, upbeat music in this fictional universe. The members: Droopy McCool on chidinkalu horn, Sy Snootles on vocals, and the titular band member playing the big Red Ball Jet keyboard, rockin’ it elephant style. Not sure what happened to them after their brief film appearance, but Disney owns them now, so maybe we’ll see them again. Answer.
- I wrote about the Subservient Chicken, a Burger King mascot, last January. In continuing their efforts at weirdness-in-advertising, they subsequently put out ads featuring this ‘rooster metal’ group in 2004-2005. The band’s website (which included some rather inappropriate innuendo) was taken down, but apparently the MySpace page is up because it’s MySpace, so who will ever notice? Answer.
- Dirk, Nasty, Stig and Barry. The Pre-Fab Four. If you haven’t seen this film – the original mock-rockumentary – then you have been denied some of the sharpest writing any Beatles fan has ever had the joy of hearing. Great cameos too – Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Paul Simon, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. If you don’t know it, click on the answer and just buy the damn movie. Answer.
- Speaking of great films… ever see the one about the Dublin-based working-class soul band? It was a novel by Roddy Doyle to begin with, but became one of the most popular cult films among music lovers everywhere. While the songs on the soundtrack naturally sound better by their original artists, these are some tight renditions. Come on, if you were alive in the early 90’s, you know this. Answer.
- We almost saw an animatronic live tour by this band, with My Morning Jacket providing the music. Thankfully, this won’t happen. This band, who should remain felt-covered and non-robotic, knew how to rock. Their drummer, while best if he remains tethered to something solid via his collar, is out of this world. When the leader / keyboardist meets the star of their first film, he happily proclaims, “Welcome to my presence.” He was all class. Can you picture that? Answer.
I hope everyone is having a joyous and musical New Year’s. Just keep the volume down if you don’t mind. And keep the blinds closed, at least until sundown. Thanks.
Oh, and to the astute Laverne & Shirley fans out there – the picture at the top of today’s article is indeed a photo from the only album release by Lenny & The Squigtones. Make sure you drop it on your Christmas ’13 wish-list today.