Monday, August 22, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #133

When it comes to just plain goofy fun, it's tough to beat the group of loonies who called themselves Tenpole Tudor.  Though often lumped in with the Punk bands of the era, they demonstrated over the course of two utterly astounding albums a remarkable ability to move nimbly from punky slam to country twang to rockabilly rumble to tender ballad and back again.  They also demonstrated a steadfast reliance on the most silly side of British humor (it was not without insight that a friend of mine described Tenpole Tudor as the Punk Rock Monty Python!)

Edward Tudor-Pole first came to the attention of the general public via his appearance in the Sex Pistols' film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle and its soundtrack.  At the time, Malcolm McLaren was touting Eddie as the new Pistols lead singer, replacing Johnny Rotten.  Tudor-Pole's eccentric mannerisms and unmistakeably wobbly vocals made his contributions ("Who Killed Bambi?," "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle," and a nearly unrecognizable "Rock Around The Clock") memorable indeed; plans to install him in Johnny's stead were scrapped when The Sex Pistols finally blew apart.

Rechiristening himself as Eddie Tenpole, he found a group of like-minded musicians and presented the music world with Tenpole Tudor.  After their 1980 debut single, "Real Fun," found some traction, they released the first of their two full-length LPs in early 1981.  Eddie, Old Bob, Dick And Gary is a fantastic record from start to finish.  Its weakest tracks are saved by Eddie's vocal acrobatics, but when it hits the mark, it's jaw-droppingly good stuff.  Tenpole Tudor hit the UK charts with a number of tracks from the album, including "3 Bells In A Row," "Swords Of A Thousand Men," and their finest moment, "Wunderbar."  

Later that same year, Tenpole Tudor released a second album, Let The Four Winds Blow.  While not as consistent as its predecessors, this album has a few stunners within its grooves as well, especially the lead single, "Throwing My Baby Out With The Bathwater."  By this time, as the cover art for Four Winds shows, the band had taken to appearing in full suits of armor, and their lovable looniness had begun to pigeonhole them as something of a novelty act.  Before falling into that trap, Tenpole Tudor split up.

Eddie went back to calling himself  Tudor-Pole (or, sometimes, Eddie Tenpole Tudor), and split his time between acting and playing music of various styles - most notably, Cajun, Jazz and Swing music.  In 2009, he reformed his band, slightly renamed as Ten Pole Tudor, for a new album, Made It This Far.

The two 1981 albums are well worth searching for.  For those not inclined to spend hours hunched over used record bins in full search mode, a nifty two-disc compilation exists called Swords Of A Thousand Men. In the meantime, please enjoy this week's NW4NW offerings - three great clips from Tenpole Tudor, including "Wunderbar," "Swords Of A Thousand Men," and "Throwing My Baby Out With The Bathwater:"

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