It’s mid-January, mid-seventies, three day weeks and coal shortages and all that (I wasn’t there, but it sounds pretty grim). So along came Mud, to save the day!
Tiger Feet, by Mud (their 1st of three #1s)
4 weeks, from 20th January – 17th February 1974
‘Tiger Feet’ is a relentlessly happy song. It is a big dumb puppy of a record that bounds in and refuses to get off until you start dancing. I’ve loved it since I was a kid, and I’m not going to go all snobby on it now. Some records need thinking about, need chin stroking and serious analysis. Others don’t.
All night long, You’ve been lookin’ at me, You know you’re the dance hall cutie that you long to be, You’ve been layin’ it down, You got your hips swingin’ out of bounds, And I like the way you do what you’re doin’ to me… That first verse sums it all up, in roughly ten seconds. A girl dances, a boy likes what he sees. Add in the backing cheers, whoops and hollers that make it sound as if this was recorded in someone’s front room on the New Year’s Eve just past, and you’ve got a classic.
It’s symptomatic of the route that glam rock has taken in the past year or so, through Wizzard and Gary Glitter, and now this ‘at the hop’ spoof from Mud. The genre is becoming little more than a fifties tribute act, characterised by the Elvis stylings of Mud’s lead singer Les Gray. It’s cheap, and tacky, but damn it if it isn’t catchy. It was written by glam rock songwriters du jour Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who have already scored #1s with The Sweet and Suzi Quatro.
One thing’s always troubled me about this song, though, even as a child. If you were to pick a part of the body to compare to a tiger… why the feet? That’s neat, That’s neat, That’s neat… I really love your tiger feet! Tigers have claws and stripes and sharp teeth – tons of cool body parts. Anyway, whatever, I’m getting dangerously close to serious analysis, and I promised not to.
But if you really did want to don your thinking caps, there’s definitely an argument for connecting the grim economic situation of the mid-1970s with the increasing popularity of bubblegum hits like this (and I’m aware that I won’t be the first to spot this.) It’s pure escapism, for people who have bigger things to worry about. In turn, ‘Tiger Feet’ became one of the defining hits of the decade. Any cheap ‘Best of the 70s’ compilation has to feature it, by law, while it’s one of those songs that a drama set in the seventies will always turn to as background scene-setting.
Mud had been around as a band since the mid-sixties and, like most of the genre’s big stars, they jumped on the glam rock bandwagon and rode it hard. They will feature twice more in this rundown but, without giving the game away, I won’t be giving their following chart-toppers as much leeway as I gave this one. Because this is great. Inside everyone, there is an eight-year-old who thinks ‘Tiger Feet’ by Mud is the best song ever written. Go on, indulge them.