Sunday, August 30, 2009

TENPOLE TUDOR/Made It This Far CD Review

For over three decades, I've been a fan of this British gent who goes by the names Ed Tudor Pole and Ed Tenpole. Most people know him as the frontman for Tenpole Tudor, one of the most entertaining and under-appreciated 'Rock' bands of the early '80s.

From the time I heard his wildly eccentric debut recordings on Sex Pistols' The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle soundtrack ("Who Killed Bambi?" and 'Rock Around The Clock") to the two albums the band released on Stiff Records in 1980 and '81 (Eddie, Old Bob, Dick & Garry and Let The Four Winds Blow), there was nothing 'average' about Tenpole Tudor. Like Marc Bolan (T.Rex) before him, Eddie took average Rock 'n' Roll chord changes and turned them upside down, adding elements that other musicians were either too stupid or too studied to add to their three-chord rockers. Of course, Tenpole Tudor sounded NOTHING like T. Rex, but both bands took simplicty and created something special out of it.

I was devasted when Tenpole Tudor broke up after their sophomore album. But then I was pleasently surprised when Eddie released his single, "The Hayrick Song", at the same time as his former bandmates, now renamed The Tudors, released their single "Tied Up With Lou Cool"! I was overjoyed that out of one band, we'd be getting two great acts! But alas, that's the last we heard of either of them....

Eddie has continued to be involved with music, although very little info has drifted over to the U.S. He's even been an emcee at Punk shows, festivals and such, which has managed to help remind people of his musical legacy. But before anyone labels Eddie a Punk, think again. Eddie has a DIY/Punk ethic, but his true inspiration lies in Rock 'n' Roll. Tenpole Tudor, the band, were only punks in spirit. Go back and give 'em another listen and you'll hear a great, loud Rock 'n' Roll band with heart.

So, 28 years after their last album, Tenpole Tudor has returned with the excellent 'new' album Made It This Far. The tracks on the album were recorded over a 20+ year period at different studios, with different budgets but the outcome is a treat for fans of the band and the man.

While Eddie remains the only 'original' member of the line-up that created the first two albums, it is very apparent that he was, and will always be, the true heart and soul of the band. The songwriting, dynamics, harmonies and unbriddled energy is still intact, although the huge, sometimes overbearing, wall of guitars from the old days have been stripped away, allowing the songs to breathe a little easier. And the songs are really what matters in the end...
Made It This Far is not a Rockabilly album, nor is it an acoustic album, a Punk album or a straight Rock 'n' Roll album: it is all of these and more! With his energy, attitude, songwriting skills and voice intact, Eddie and his new (and revolving) cast of merry men have created a 16 track album that may the most consistent Tenpole Tudor album to date! Now, don't get me wrong, I still love and stand by the two original albums but almost every track here is more than worthy of the Tenpole legacy and the album has a comfortable flow that allows the listener to drift along with it.
While it may not have the BIG production of the early albums, Eddie has taken his original vision and continued with it regardless of the ever-changing musical landscape. These songs could have been created by no one else but Eddie Tenpole. Or Eddie Tudor Pole. Whatever you wanna call him.
Eddie is at the forefront of every song, although he is ably assisted by guitars, fiddles, bass, accordians, drums and any other instrument they could bring into the studio.
"Yippee Yi Yay", a re-recording of the non-album "Real Fun", "Mohican" and the title track are just a few of the standouts. Eddie's vocal on "Such Desire" is certainly one of his best, proving that he has still got 'it' in spades!
Made It This Far? Yes, you have, Eddie! GO TENPOLE!
There are no clips of tracks from the album available on youtube, but here's a track that represents what Eddie is all about:

Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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