Hoo-rah hoo-rah hoo-rah-yay...
August 5, 2020 8:47 AM   Subscribe

...over the hill with the Swords Of A Thousand Men, by Tenpole Tudor (Alternative, ToTP, performance), reached #6 in the UK singles chart, in April 1981. In the same year, they would release Wunderbar. The song was written and sung by Edward Felix Tudor-Pole, who is still performing.
posted by Wordshore (19 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

This is the music of my youth and I needed this today!

posted by mazola at 9:08 AM on August 5, 2020 [6 favorites]

So many people of my age are word perfect on this song (not just the chorus). It should have been our national anthem.

Edward Tudor-Pole had an interesting and varied career and life, and other MeFites can enjoy stumbling into that online.
posted by Wordshore at 9:13 AM on August 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Great stuff! I've always loved Wunderbar. I'd love to know more about his tangling and breakup with Malcom McLaren.

This was all around the Antmusic era and obviously there are similarities (ToTP, 9 months earlier).
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:24 AM on August 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

also responsible for the epic annoyance that is "Who Killed Bambi?" in The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle.
posted by scruss at 10:58 AM on August 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Now that my teenage son is into larping, medieval cosplay and renfaires, I get to play these songs without embarrassment on either side. small victories.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:22 PM on August 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

TPT has that distinctly British "drinking song chorus" style.
posted by rhizome at 2:32 PM on August 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

ah, innocent youth...

more Too-Rye-Ay...
posted by ovvl at 6:16 PM on August 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

OH YEAH! Haven't heard this in 35 years, and man is it appreciated today!
posted by northtwilight at 8:29 PM on August 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Heroes of early MTV! They're a small but vital part of what made MTV back in 1981-82 so liberating—the music on the radio [that I knew of back then] was so boring compared to this unabashed silliness.
posted by not_on_display at 11:27 PM on August 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

I deadass gasped when I saw this post title—scrolling down, I thought “could that be...?” and it was. Wunderbar.

I used to have a long six-hour tape of MTV videos that we’d recorded back in the day, and Swords and Wunderbar got played to death (literally, the tape broke at one point). My BFF and I still routinely quote them, and my big sadness is that so few people I know have never experienced the joy of these songs and the absurd videos.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:53 AM on August 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

I don't remember seeing or hearing of Tudor in the US. But I spent time in the UK back then and you couldn't get away from "Swords". It was playing everywhere.
posted by james33 at 5:33 AM on August 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

This video and "Stand and Deliver" by Adam Ant are great early-80s memories. I wonder if there's a continuity to be found from the middle-ages to the current day using only British music video settings from 1981...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:39 AM on August 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Fun fact for our transatlantic cousins, Top Of The Tops was notorious for forcing all acts to perform live. This resulted in British musicians being forced to become extremely technically talented, and able to play with an ease which made it almost look like they were miming.
posted by MattWPBS at 5:53 AM on August 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Swords of a thousand men.......that guitar riff sounds so familiar maybe like this?
posted by HappyHippo at 1:33 PM on August 7, 2020

US-ian here, who's amazed and regretful that I never heard this music until today.

It's very fun stuff, enhanced by an eerie resemblance between the lead singer and a young Peter Capaldi.
posted by NumberSix at 1:37 PM on August 7, 2020

I don't remember seeing or hearing of Tudor in the US.

You had to reach. The name was around in the US, you'd get one of those catalogs of band t-shirts and/or concert photos and right there between Tears for Fears and Thompson Twins they would be flashing a British Smile or pointing a microphone at the audience from a stage, presumably during the Drinking Song Chorus.

You'd go to the record store and in the "Various Artists" section where the compilations lived, there you would see the name some more. Last time, you got a Stiff Records compilation because you saw The Plasmatics on Fridays and someone had mentioned The Feelies or Ian Dury along the way. But what really caught your ear were the sweet stylings of Any Trouble.

So on this vist you're now pawing past four copies of No Nukes and a sealed copy of Fonzie Favorites when what pops up, but another Stiff compilation! Hey, another Any Trouble song and the other bands last time were good to pretty good, so let's take a chance here on a partially-known quantity. You pay the store and double your Stiff Records complation collection.

Now you own a Tenpole Tudor song.

Say you like it. Say you want more. You go back to the store and they have a 7", probably Wünderbar, and you pay the $5 (import gouging!) and see a "For more information, send an envelope to..." message on the sleeve, which you do, because while you don't know this, none of their 7"s say anything like "From the album..." to give you a pointer. The address is all you got, so you send that self-addressed stamped envelope to England (maybe with some extra stamps ya noob), and you get back something like a zine or a page or two of Stiff promo stuff, including information about a Tenpole Tudor album or two. This is the successful reach.

Now you're ordering direct from Stiff, or badgering your record store to order stuff. You vacuum your bedroom to the tune of Drinking Song Chorus. You start reading A.S. Byatt and P.G. Wodehouse. You go to see The Great Rock and Roll Swindle and get turned on to the Sex Pistols and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich when your mom says "Hey isn't he that guy from that song (from before you were born)?" You lament the lack of opportunities to see the "Carry On" movies in the US, which your parents don't understand. You stop brushing your teeth.
posted by rhizome at 8:32 PM on August 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Oh my god someone else has heard of Any Trouble and liked them?!
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:14 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was lucky. In those years I was listening to WPRB in Princeton, and had a cousin in NYC who was much more plugged into the scene than I ever was, so from one of those sources I heard Tenpole Tudor's music when it was brand new. I immediately ran to the Quaker Bridge Mall, which had three record stores, one with a great Punk/New Wave section, the other with rack upon rack of imports, the third... well, the third one opened later but it was pretty good too. So, I got Eddie, Old Bob, Dick and Gary and Swords of a Thousand Men on vinyl, and still have them, somewhere, although they've long since been usurped by CD editions.

I believe I was already slightly familiar with Mr. Tudorpole from his rendition of "Rock Around the Clock" from The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle.

I belong to a music group on Facebook, and Tenpole Tudor is one of the acts that, when someone posts them, there's a slew of responses along the lines of "I thought I was the only person who ever heard of them!" mixed with "I saw them live at ... "
posted by Devoidoid at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2020

Seriously, they were all over early MTV in the US, I'd thought they were world-famous. There were a lot of bands like that on early MTV: way big in another country or a niche US market, BUT THEY PROVIDED CONTENT SO SLAP IT UP THERE. Tenpole Tudor I always thought of as like Adam and the Ants meets the Clash. (I was 11.)
posted by not_on_display at 8:14 PM on August 11, 2020

« Older Listen. In the beginning, there was mutura.   |   Inevitably... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments