Been a while since I did one of these, the thread being woken from its slumber (once again) by a comment left by JC a week or so ago about the relative merits of Billy Bragg’s cover versions compared with those of Wedding Present stalwart David Gedge.
So, back to 1992 we go, and the seventh single from the run of twelve The Wedding Present released that year. For the uninitiated, on the first Monday of every month, the group released a limited edition 7″ single, with an original composition as the ‘A’ side (ask your dad) and a cover version as the ‘B’ side (ask him again).
In all honesty, the twelve singles in the set were a little hit and miss, as one might expect from such a project, but July (that’s the seventh month of the year right, Gregorian calendar fans?) turned out to have two absolute belters on it.
Here’s them performing the ‘A’ side, “Flying Saucer” on Top of the Pops (apologies, it’s not the greatest quality in the world):
The ‘B’ side on this occasion was a cover of a single from 1974 by a band who at the time were skirting around on the very outer edges of the Glam Rock scene:
I speak of none other than Mud.
When Mud released “Rocket” it was on the back of a UK Number One (“Tiger Feet” – if you grew up in the late 70s or early 80s then you won’t have been able to escape dancing to this at some family do or other) and a UK Number Two (“The Cat Crept In”). “Rocket” reached the giddy heights of Number Six in the UK.
Here they are performing it on Top of The Pops:
That’s Les Gray singing; I don’t think I ever saw him without those shades on. He was like a rock’n’roll version of Lennie Peters from Peters and Lee. (There aren’t many pop stars called Les or Lennie these days, are there? Seems a shame, s’all). Before he found fame, Les earned his corn writing jingles for Pearl & Dean – another name that will have readers of a certain age drifting off into nostalgic reverie.
For those who I’ve now completely lost with my pesky “bit before your time” references: this is Peters and Lee:
(Now I think about it, you never used to see Les and Lennie in the same room…it can’t have been, can it….?)
…and this is the Pearl & Dean theme, which would be played before the advertisements at every Odeon or ABC cinema up and down the country (do they still play it now…?):
But I digress.
Shortly after the release of “Rocket”, Mud had their second UK Number One with “Lonely This Christmas”, a song which really capitalised on Les’ distinctive Elvis-esque vocal delivery, and this seemed to herald a change in direction of both sound and image for the band. They started doing cover versions of old rock’n’roll records (their third and final Number One was 1975’s cover of Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy”) in much the same way as bands like Showaddywaddy were having plenty of success at the time.
“Rocket”, then was one of their last original sounding hits. Here you go: