369. ‘Oh Boy’, by Mud

I gave Mud’s previous #1, the mopey ‘Lonely This Christmas’ a pretty negative write-up, and I’m afraid this ain’t going to be much more positive…

Oh Boy, by Mud (their 3rd and final #1)

2 weeks, from 27th April – 11th May 1975

Rule number one for writing a post on a cover version: don’t just compare it to the original. (‘Oh Boy’, of course, was a huge 1958 hit for The Crickets, the follow-up to ‘That’ll Be the Day’, one of Buddy Holly’s blueprints in building the foundations of rock ‘n’ roll.) It is a fine rule, most of the time.

But when the original is so seminal, so brilliant… Well, it’s impossible. Especially given how Mud suck all the life out of what was a scorching rock song, and reduce it to a funereal plod. You wait for the tempo to raise, for the band to reveal that they’ve been stringing us along and to crack into life, but nope… It just keeps lumbering along, like a buffalo stuck in a swamp.

I do like the hard rock guitars, I suppose, that give this record a bit of a pulse, and there is a new spoken word bit in the middle, by a very seductive sounding lady. All my life, I’ve been waiting, Tonight there’ll be no hesitation… The way she moans her Oh Boys is very Serge and Jane. On the whole, though, I’m left asking ‘why?’ I’m all for trying something different, putting a new spin on an old song. And who knows, maybe if Mud had gone for a straight cover version I’d have called the attempt sacrilege? It’s just… very lifeless.

By the end, the tempo has slowed even further. It is now a certified funeral chant, the instruments having faded and the band going it alone and a capella. I’ve been saying it for a while now, but glam rock is dying a slow death. Time to stub the cigarette out and be done with it. The frustrating thing is… Mud had way better songs than this that didn’t get to number one. ‘The Cat Crept In’, ‘Dyna-mite’… They even did much better covers than what they’ve attempted here: their take on ‘In the Mood’ is silly fun, while their version of Elvis’s ‘One Night’ is what ‘Lonely This Christmas’ should have sounded like.

A frustrating band, then, Mud. Not in the top league of glam, but a solid promotion contender. If you want to know hear more from their back-catalogue, I’d skip ‘Oh Boy’ and crack on with the songs I listed above. And of course their one, true classic: ‘Tiger Feet’. We can forgive everything when we remember ‘Tiger Feet’… Hilariously, on Spotify, Mud’s back-catalogue has been combined with that of Müd (note the umlaut), a hardcore trance act with songs like ‘Fuck It’s Hot’. At least, I assume they’re not the same band… Who knows what directions they went in when the hits dried up…

Follow along with every number one so far…

20 thoughts on “369. ‘Oh Boy’, by Mud

  1. I also thought it was plodding. It was Mud so I didn’t dislike it, but it was sub-par compared to all their Chinn-Chapman output, every one a gem for me. Then they left RAK for Private Stock and a self-written singles career away from the songwiter-producers who gave their best songs to Smokie, Suzi Quatro and Racey before splitting with Chapman going into the US Big League. I think this was their official goodbye to the label, after this it was a 2-year-old track and an album cover track to squeeze a last bit of cash out before their first attempt appeared, the lacklustre Show Me You’re A Woman.

    Good news though, disco crossovers were all the rage after The Bee Gees and they bunged out a fab under-appreciated dancefloor jam, Shake It Down. I like to think of it as a dry run for Rob Davies’ later career writing popdance chart-toppers in the 21st century. Their cover of Bill Withers’ brilliant Lean On Me is another under-rated christmas-time cover, still my second-fave version. That was it though, all downhill from there, sadly. I finally got to see Les Gray fronting a version of Mud in the 90’s, by which time he was very thin through illness, but game despite the budget-production modest-audience, still an entertainer.

  2. As a pretty big Buddy Holly fan, this makes me want to wash my ears out with soap. Up until I heard this version, I thought the worst cover of this song had to be by She and Him (featuring actress Zooey Deschanel) I was mistaken. This is terrible and does no justice to the Crickets or to the song-writer, Sonny West. It’s bad. It’s really bad. Really, really, bad… 😮

      • Buddy had to perform this song without the help of his guitar on The Ed Sullivan show (supposedly Ed had his stagehand pull the plug to the guitar’s mic for spite) He still did an amazing job both on the song and pretending that nothing was wrong. That’s the kind of respect this song deserves! 🙂

  3. I with you…I expect them to kick it in another gear…hell out of reverse…it doesn’t go anywhere…MUDD fits this band.
    Buddy would be frowning….the one saving grace…I love that cover…yellow and green…my favorite combination.

  4. Pingback: Recap: #361 – #390 – The UK Number Ones Blog

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