Use Your Imagination

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In 1975 Mud decided they didn't need to be puppets of the highly successful songwriters/producers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman any longer. While the duo had written all the band's hits like "Tiger Feet" and "Dynamite," the group had been penning their own B-sides and felt they could strike out on their own without striking out. Their first self-penned single "L'L'Lucy" was a hit reaching number ten and the album Use Your Imagination reached number 33. Not exactly smashes, but enough to keep the band in the spotlight. The album was a bit of a departure from their previous records which were loaded with covers of rock classics and seemed nothing more than placeholders between Chinn/Chapman singles. There are only two covers here, a silly reggae take of the Everly Brothers' "Bird Dog" and a rollicking take of Curtis Lee's "Under the Moon of Love" (which later became a hit for Showaddywaddy with a very similar arrangement). The rest are composed by the band or contemporary songwriters and are a mixed bag of glammy rockers and '50s-styled ballads. The rockers fare better with "R.U. Man Enough," "Don't Knock It," "Hair of the Dog" and "L'L'Lucy" generating loads of energy and excitement. Rockabilly stomper "43792 (I'm Bustin' You)" and the proto-disco "Use Your Imagination" are also fine songs that are welcome diversions from the glam sound. The ballads fall flat however as "Show Me You're a Woman" is a treacly, soft rock love song with some truly cringe-inducing lyrics, "Maybe Tomorrow" is stiff and far too Sha Na Na-sounding. Luckily they stick to the rockers for the most part. One could question the wisdom of leaving Chinn and Chapman behind but apart from a stumble or two, Mud came up with a pretty strong album here. Maybe even their best. You wouldn't want to start your collection here though; a singles compilation from their early years is definitely the place to begin.

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