Oct 07

MUD – “Tiger Feet”

FT + Popular30 comments • 8,579 views

#343, 26th January 1974

As a kid, “Tiger Feet” was pretty much my reference point for what seventies music sounded like from my (far more sophisticated) eighties vantage point – eager-to-please hoofers chanting a load of nonsense. Time and perspective have made me enjoy it a little more, but it seems to me Chinn and Chapman were on a descending path by this point, stripping more of the lust and bovver out of glam with each new act they worked with. “Tiger Feet” sounds like a bridge between glam rock and the Showaddywaddy and Shakey style rock’n’roll revivals to come.

Of course there’s plenty to like about it – Mud are trying so hard to win you ever it would be stone-hearted not to respond to some of it. The bass is buzzy and bouncy enough for electro and the riffs are crunchily filling, so there’s a tautness and excitement to it. And the “Yaaaaaaaaaaay-eh!” at the beginning is terrific, though it promises bigger thrills than Mud actually deliver. But then the chorus starts jabbing me in the ribs and hassling me to love it, and I can’t – in the end Mud are just too needy.



  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 5 Oct 2007 #

    True stories behind the hits: Nicky Chinn is wallpapering his home. As he attempts the tricky manoeuvre of some pasted paper he says to himself “That’s right. That’s right.” Admiring his handiwork, he reflects “That’s neat!”. Then the good mood is spoiled by his looking down at his shoes and observing that stands of fallen paste have formed stripes. “Oh, I’ve got tiger feet.” he observes ruefully…

    Then a great big lyric writer’s light bulb is illuminated above his head.

    God, I love this… It cheers me up and makes me laugh. I even always attempt to do a silly dance whenever I hear it.

  2. 2
    Erithian on 5 Oct 2007 #

    Wahey and, in the immortal words of Tiswas, this is what they want! The soundtrack to many a pre-teen headbanging session, with me and my best mate doing the Mud roadies’ dance before it became known as the Quo dance. Never fails to take me back to good times. The same kind of effect, perhaps, that the makers of “In The Name Of The Father” were looking for when using “Tiger Feet” to soundtrack Gerard Conlon’s happy pre-Guildford Four life in 1974 Britain (which is where North American readers might recognise the song from).

    In the category of “things that we should be sectioned for remembering” (Waldo and Marcello also have a number of these) I recall almost verbatim a paragraph in (IIRC) Disco 45 about this tune – it ran thus:
    “… Which leads us onto… who else but MUD. Whatta smasheroo!!! Straight in at ten and the very next week overtaking their stable mates Sweet and knocking the Old Soakers off the top of the pile! Well, that deadly combination Chinn/Chapman/RAK have cracked the charts wide open this time – as I write they’ve got Mud at one, Sweet at two, Cozy* at four, and any time now they’ll have Suzi driving in through the devil gate to meet ‘em all at the top! You mark my words (Marc? – he’ll be there too).”
    God know what important item of information had to be jettisoned for me to find room in my brain for that deathless prose these 33 years! But as a flavour of the times for the pop fan, that proto-Smash Hits tone gets it across nicely.

    (*that’s Cozy Powell – “Dance with the Devil”. Sweet’s “Teenage Rampage” stayed at 2, and Marc’s “Teenage Dream” didn’t quite get there.)

  3. 3
    Waldo on 5 Oct 2007 #

    We now come to one of the essential hits of the seventies. The trouble I have with it is that it came courtesy of an outfit for whom, “Tiger Feet” notwithstanding, I had very little consideration. In précis, Mud antagonised me and what is exasperating is that I can’t really quantify this, which is most unsatisfactory, I know. Since Mud will be troubling us twice more, I shall say nothing further about them and merely comment on the records.

    If “Tiger Feet” doesn’t define the decade, it comes bloody close. Complete with the knee-gripping and scarf-waving dance as seen on TOTP, this takes off from the get-go, doesn’t give an inch and leaves us very reluctantly. What dates it so much is the use in the lyric of the word “neat”, meaning in this context “very good” or “cool”. But whereas “cool” has survived through the decades and of course remains in the vernacular of today’s yoof, “neat” got left behind in the seventies along with space hoppers, Hi Karate and Derby County. I recall that the word was used liberally by Dennis Dunstable, the simpleton in “Please Sir” but I think that “Tiger Feet” may well have been the watershed for it. Similarly, the “Citizen Smith”-inspired word “prawn”, meaning “idiot” is no longer with us.

  4. 4
    The Dirty Vicar on 5 Oct 2007 #

    The Mud dance is great. Apparently for a truly authentic effect you are meant to do it with (initially) full pint glasses in each hand.

  5. 5
    Erithian on 5 Oct 2007 #

    “”Neat”? Anybody who says my show is “neat” has to go.” – Madonna after that visit from Kevin Costner.

  6. 6
    Waldo on 5 Oct 2007 #

    “Things that we should be sectioned for remembering”, I am certain, have not been the preserve of myself and the saintly Marcello. I, for instance, have probably forgotten many more things for which I should have been sectioned than things I have remembered for which I should have been sectioned but wasn’t. I can’t be sure of this, of course, because I can’t remember. I can remember not being sectioned but I can’t remember that which I have forgotten, whether or not it was worthy of my being sectioned or not. And they can’t section a guy for that?

    …Or can they?

  7. 7
    jeff w on 5 Oct 2007 #

    One of the greatest singles of all time. Easily a 10 for me.

    Friday night at 7pm is hardly the time to start writing a justification of the above statement, however, so you’ll just have to wait :)

    This comment:
    “Tiger Feet” sounds like a bridge between glam rock and the Showaddywaddy … rock’n’roll revivals to come
    is bang OTM however.

  8. 8
    intothefireuk on 5 Oct 2007 #

    So…..Mud then. Essentially a good time rock n roll revival band with a guitarist dressed as a nonce (in 70s speak) and a singer with an Elvis fixation. However it has to be said that their first hit ‘Crazy’ was great (see the clip on youtube). That was followed by a couple of run throughs for this – their greatest single. The synth-like guitar intro riff is what sets it apart for me. That wasn’t atypical of the period – that drew you into Mud’s world. A place where both teddy boys & glitter kids danced the shoulder jive with their thumbs in their pockets. It was fun – it was THE party record of 1974. I loved it then and still do.

  9. 9
    Caledonianne on 6 Oct 2007 #

    I’m another for whom this captures the essence of the early-mid seventies.

    A somewhat deranged English teacher gave us a lesson on protest songs (as an excuse to play Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel records).

    We were then assigned the task of writing our very own protest songs but (being a tuneless lot) were encouraged to nick the tunes from the current chart offerings by popular beat combos. Someone in my class appropriated Tiger Feet for their opus. Can’t for the life of me remember what the lyrics were about, through. Shame!

    Mine own effort purloined The Wombling Song, and was a plea for the liberation of the humble rubber band

    “Yellow bands, purple bands
    Let us be free!
    Or we’ll snap on your finger or
    Snap on your knee
    Don’t use us for
    Jamjars or bunches or slings
    We are fantastic
    The kings”

    Not exactly Stephen Sondheim…

  10. 10
    Marcello Carlin on 6 Oct 2007 #

    “Tiger Feet” stops just one crucial microinch short of being the Barron Knights Do Glam but bounces along in its sneakily irrepressible way – it should be noted that this was 1974’s biggest selling single. Not nearly as outre as weird ’73 Mud hits like “Hypnosis” or “Crazy” (Dave Dee lives again?) but a lot more straightforward to those who found “Teenage Rampage” a bit befuddling. Oddly, both “Teenage Rampage” and “Tiger Feet” debuted in the top ten in the same week – at 6 and 10 respectively – a feat commonplace now but unheard of at that time. But “Rampage” was not designed to please the granny vote (whereas everyone could love goofy old sauceball Les Gray) and “Tiger Feet” leapfrogged it en route to the crossover.

    Great for what it is – depending on whether one regards what it is as great – and eminently lovable to these ten-year-old ears and eyes, even with uncalled for TOTP cameo dancing by DLT (even if at the time I was slightly annoyed that they beat the Sweet to the top). Three thoughts spring to mind for now:

    a) the dream I had a few years ago where Tom and Mark were doing the roadie hands-on-hips-at-each-other routine on TOTP and they didn’t seem out of place;

    b) the rhythmic design and thrust of the song which do seem to say: “hello, Antmusic”;

    c) there was no indication at the time that the uncomfortable-looking guitarist in dress and earrings would go on to be directly responsible (with others) for one of the greatest of all number one singles, a lifetime later.

  11. 11
    Chris Brown on 6 Oct 2007 #

    “eager-to-please hoofers chanting a load of nonsense”… you say that like it’s a bad thing!

    For me, this is one of those records that seems almost definitive in what it’s trying to do that it’s almost impossible to be critical of it. It might well have been a 10 for me if I’d been there, but I wasn’t so I’d probably go somewhere in the region of 7.5. It might be a 10 for my mum though.

    Oh, and I’m pretty sure I know what 10 c) refers to, but I won’t spoil it if you don’t.

  12. 12
    doofuus2003 on 8 Oct 2007 #

    Beg to differ on the dance, Erithian, I can clearly recall doing the Quo dance (I think we called it the greaser dance) to Down the Dustpipe in a disco in a tent in Sandy Bay near Exmouth in 1972

  13. 13
    mike on 8 Oct 2007 #

    Well, this was first and foremost a party record – and in my case, I had a party to go with it. Having been featured on TOTP a couple of weeks ahead of its release date (hence the unusually high entry position, and a brief foretaste of marketing strategies to come), “Tiger Feet” was at Number One over the weekend of my 12th birthday, for which a DISCO!!! was held at home for all my and my sister’s friends and classmates. The good-looking trendy smoothie dude in the village (Blue Jays, 461 Ocean Boulevard) acted as the DJ and brought over a twin turntable – my first exposure to such a wonderous device – and the nice lady from two doors down nipped out on the morning of the party and, to my rapturous delight, brought back a copy of “Tiger Feet” from the nearest record store (“Well, you can’t have a party without having the Number One, can you?”) All hyped up on Cresta, Coke and crisps, we all duly went happy-hardcore bonkers to it (along with “Dance With The Devil” and the comparatively sedate “My Coo Ca Choo” and “Roll Away The Stone”, as well as our next Number One – but, alas, no “Teenage Rampage”), the party climaxing with trendy smoothie dude playing it three times in a row. Dancefloor epiphany or wot! An unapologetically subjective 10 from me, then.

  14. 14
    jeff w on 8 Oct 2007 #

    I stand to be corrected, but I think this was the biggest-selling single of 1974.

    Which I say only because the memory I associate most with “Tiger Feet” is listening to the 1974 Chart-Of-The-Year show – in the midst of a post-Christmas family get together complete with Aunts, Uncles and various cousins – and going mad with joy when this topped the poll, up against what I suspect was a pretty strong field. But whether my memory is false or true, my point is that this is possibly the first record whose chart success or otherwise mattered to me. I was, at age 9, forming allegiances, differentiating between pop records for the first time.

    The years haven’t dimmed my love for “Tiger Feet” at all, however. Far from being on the slide, I think ChinniChap were at their zenith at this point. The back-to-back trio of Mud singles – “Dynamite”, “Tiger Feet” and “The Cat Crept In” – even if the latter is a “Tiger Feet” re-tread – are right up there with the best of their productions for The Sweet (who in any case were already struggling for the right to write and perform their own songs by this point).

    Those three singles represented a ‘perfect storm’ in which Mud’s love for early rock’n’roll and 12-bar boogie collides with Chinn and Chapman’s bubblegum leanings – dancefloor rumbles and ‘bovver’ in general was never really their style. “Tiger Feet” achieves the magic 10 status thanks to (a) the writers and performers remembering that pop is “you know, for kids”; (b) the inspired idea to nick the drum beat from “Ballroom Blitz” and double track it – thus that irresistible dance groove; and (c) the quintuple guitar attack.

    Here’s the set-up. Back-centre is an octave leaping pig-nosed ‘bass’ (this could be a guitar actually, I think there’s a separate bass line in there somewhere, but no matter), ramping up the beat yet another notch. Right channel, the fuzzy main riff straight out of the Quo playbook. Left channel, a sparking second guitar, responsible for the off-beat accents. Then in the instrumental breaks after the chorus two more lead guitars in the centre of the mix, playing the solo in descending, parallel fourths – again probably a nod to the likes of Quo – and of course this was later a Thin Lizzy trademark. I don’t know if Rob Davis – our friend with the dress and the earrings and the future second pop career – is responsible for all these guitars. I fancy he might have been, since this arrangement is a feature of all three of the above-mentioned singles yet not of any other ChinniChap production of the time.

    But each part sits beautifully in the mix and at no time does it feel like excess. There is plenty of space for Les Gray, thankfully reining in the Elvis Presleyisms for once, to coo his appreciation of the ‘dance hall cutie’ who’s given him a feeling in his knees(!) – the dumb lyrics a perfect match for the party vibe of the music.

    My favourite bit is actually the fade, where you get two duelling vocal lines, one going ‘T-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-tiger Feet’ and the other ‘That’s right (x8), That’s neat (x4)’ and so on. The two parts meld to create nonsense sounds – simply adding to the general sense of delirium the record has been building up to.

  15. 15
    Marcello Carlin on 9 Oct 2007 #

    Kids! Here’s an experiment you can try at home! Play “The Cat Crept In” then “Antmusic” then Rachel Stevens’ “I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)” – the latter co-written by Rob Davis – it’s a pop chicken-and-egg situation if ever there was one!

  16. 16
    mike on 9 Oct 2007 #

    It’s also worth putting in a word for the daft rock-a-boogie re-working of “In The Mood” which eventually appeared on Mud Rock, after slipping out as a “mystery” single later in 1974, credited to Dum (geddit?!!)

  17. 17
    Marcello Carlin on 9 Oct 2007 #

    Slightly preferable to Jonathan King’s contemporaneous reworking of the same tune under the pseudonym “Sound 9418,” but not a patch on Ray Stevens contemporaneous etc. under the pseudonym “Henhouse Four Plus One.”

  18. 18
    Mark G on 11 Oct 2007 #

    I have that “Dum” single somewhere… I even asked Les about it on a Radio London phone-in, along with “(still) watching the clock”, an instrumental that they recorded/used several times as a “quick, let’s record a b-side” theme.

  19. 19
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Oct 2007 #

    On a personal note, I should mention that this was number one at the time of my tenth birthday, when my parents gave me as a present that week’s entire Top 40 plus a standing order with Woolworth’s in Hamilton to buy every new entry in each subsequent week. I’m still doing so…

    And here is the full chart in question. Good chart, that.

  20. 20
    Caledonianne on 14 Oct 2007 #

    What a fabulous present, Marcello.

    My cash-strapped parents would never have had the wherewithal (or, to be honest, the insight) to do something like that, so I’m very jealous.

    It IS a good chart (though looking at it I bought only one single from it at the time, with about 10 tracks finding its way to me as album tracks down the years).

    Intriguing to see the three Perry Como tracks in the lower reaches. My uncle was (and is) a huge Perry fan. If he had told me that, 33 years later, “For the Good Times” would move me to tears half a dozen times in a month (as it has this wee while, in its Dolly Parton cover) I would have thought he was mad. Actually if you’d told me a decade ago I would be listening to Dolly Parton I’d have been equally non-plussed. Listen without prejudice, as someone once said!

    Ageing is an interesting process!

  21. 21
    Billy Smart on 13 Feb 2009 #

    NMEWatch: 19 January 1974. Charles Shaar Murray is indifferent;

    “Never have a group been more appropriately named. ‘Tiger Feet’ is quite enertaining in a pinhead sort of way, and it’s a guaranteed discotheque smash. Top five, or my name ain’t Chris Welch.”

    Singles of the week;

    Alice Cooper – Teenage Lament ’74
    10CC – The Worst Band In The World

    Also released;

    Staple Singers – Respect Yourself
    The Sweet – Teenage Rampage
    Lulu – The Man Who Sold The World
    Todd Rundgren – Hello Its Me
    Love Unlimited Orchestra – Love’s Theme

  22. 22
    Erithian on 13 Feb 2009 #

    As Dave Mount so accurately commented at the time a new single was coming out every other month due to record company disputes, “People don’t want Mud shoved down their throats.”

  23. 23
    wichita lineman on 13 Feb 2009 #

    “Quite entertaining in a pinhead sort of way” applies to most of my favourite records. Oh, CSM, you terrible snob.

    From memory Teenage Lament ’74 sounded a lot more like mud than Tiger Feet, with that weird state-of-the-art murk that Slade patented, as if no one had quite worked out how to use a 16 track studio yet.

  24. 24
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 13 Feb 2009 #

    csm was PRO pinhead surely — it is he who named the ramones the “four wise men of brooklyn”

  25. 25
    wichita lineman on 14 Feb 2009 #

    Maybe so, but the “quite” gives it away as Tiger Feet is verrrrry entertaining in a pinhead kinda way, whether that stance is taken as a positive or not.

    My conclusion is that CSM is a gent but def has snob tendencies. See also: easy prey Lee Hazlewood circa ’73 – ie capital R “Rockist”

  26. 26
    Jimmy the Swede on 25 Apr 2012 #

    I was in the bar at Basingstoke FC last Saturday waiting to see Eastbourne Borough get taken to school once more when I was texed. The message was from a mate and a fellow Cuzzie of a similar vintage. It read: “Who recorded ‘Tiger Feet’?” Somewhat surprised that he would have not known (or had forgotten) this, I simply replied: “Mud.” Seconds later, back came the reply: “Oh, that’s right, that’s right, that’s right, that’s right…”

    The Swede really walked into that one. What a lemon!

  27. 27
    Lena on 3 May 2014 #

    Teenagers, those darn teenagers, wanting democracy: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-big-takeover-sweet-teenage-rampage.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

  28. 28
    Larry on 1 Nov 2014 #

    First time hearing this and I love it! Perfect disposable pop. (US #1 at this time – “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr – OK, but it’s no “Tiger Feet”).

  29. 29
    lonepilgrim on 20 Oct 2019 #

    the repetitive rhythm track that underlies the song reminds me of Son of the Father, and so looks forward (or sideways) to early sequencers, Kraftwerk and house music. Mud and Les Grey in particular drape their familiar Rock & Roll pastiche over the top but its that riff that makes this so compelling

  30. 30
    Gareth Parker on 5 May 2021 #

    I think I could stretch to a 7/10 for Mud. I just think it’s great fun.

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