|The Horse The Morph The Waysted|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Sunday, 06 January 2013 04:00|
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of another one of my favourite albums of all time, ‘Vices’ the debut album from UK rawk ‘n’ rollers Waysted.
Waysted were the band Pete Way formed upon leaving UFO (after firstly having the briefest of stints spanking the four string plank with both Ozzy and Fastway), as a direct reaction to his former drinking buddies movement towards a more MOR musical direction on their ‘Mechanix’ LP, Way’s last album with the band to that point.
Waysted really were a musical breath of fresh air to me, formed very much in the feisty “lads own” sprit of UFO but with a much more raucous rock ‘n’ roll sound, a sound and direction that when I look back at it now was about as out of place with the arena rock scene that was slowly evolving around them as Cockney Rejects were recording a hard rock album or Twisted Sister were signing to a Punk/Oi! record label here in the UK. But that was the joy of the early eighties; it was all a bit, shall we say….umm maverick, and in this case the maverick holding all of the above three projects very loosely together was my musical hero Pete Way.
Quite what made Pete Way my idol I’ve never really been able to put my finger on, perhaps it was the fact that in my eyes he was the ultimate anti hero, looking awesome on stage whilst swinging cool looking bass guitars around that very few others played, whatever it was there was definitely a fire in his eyes that that I saw in only a few musicians of that time. A fire that when he finally came together with Waysted’s enigmatic frontman Fin Muir didn’t so much as burn brightly as threaten to cause spontaneous combustion for all that touched them. They really were a dangerous combination in rock ‘n’ roll terms just like vodka and tonic, amyl and nitrate or perhaps Laurel and Hardy
‘Vices’ was the debut album to end all debut albums, and the tours that followed with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and Iron Maiden really should have seen the band make that leap into the big league, but a change of record label from Chrysalis to Music For Nations would soon see old friends return to the side of Mr Way as his band changed it’s personnel and colours as quickly as I was changing my listening habits back then. But one person stood strong by Way’s side through all of this through thick (and largely) thin, Fin Muir, a giant amongst singers, and a name that to this day still immediately springs to my lips when people ask me who my favourite singer of all time is. This might be partly due to his vocal prowess, it might also be partly to do with the following story I’m about to tell you about the time I spent with the band during the recording of the band’s third album, but whatever it is, it most certainly is all about the rock ‘n’ fucking roll.
1985 was a time when the music industry was big on charity and the particular brand of rock music I had grown up loving was fast starting to become heavily subsidised by hairspray companies worldwide. Yet tucked away from all of this noise and bluster in the Welsh hillsides that house the legendary recording studios Rockfield were my favourite band…Waysted, recording the follow up full length LP to their then recently released mini album that had just seen the light of day on Music For Nations.
On finding out this gem of knowledge from that very week’s Kerrang! magazine, I set about duping my good mate Bob into driving the 40 odd miles to Monmouth in his ever trusty gold coloured Vauxhall Viva a mode of transport that came with furry seats complete with curious odd coloured patches and a stereo that was turbo charged on Dolby hiss.
What we would do when we actually got to Monmouth, I don’t rightly know, but armed with a magic marker and my Waysted back catalogue we were soon away.
Rockfield studios themselves were pretty easy to find, it was just a question of getting into the place that was proving to be a little bit difficult. Our presence being met with much negativity from the staff on site to the ends that we were politely told to “go away”. So with long faces we decided it just wasn’t going to be our day as we drove back into Monmouth itself for a walk about town.
One street! We walked Monmouth’s one street for about an hour until totally by chance we bumped into Pete Way and Paul “Tonka” Chapman out shopping. So now we really were cooking on gas as we had a personal band escort back to the studio in Bob’s trusty Viva, and just over an hour after we had been told by to “go forth and multiply” by the staff, we were suddenly flicking imaginary V signs at them as here we were suddenly sat in the studio house having Pete Way cooking us a vegetarian mid afternoon meal.
I must admit that at this point I was a gibbering heap, with all my preformed questions totally out of the window as I was just left sat grinning like a fool. Thankfully Bob was around to pretty much save the day in the conversation department. That was until a roadie returned from his very own trip into town armed with tray of the band’s favourite tipple Special Brew. Which after one quick slurp later finally saw me slip into gear, and suddenly there was no stopping me.
“Why did Kipper return to UFO Pete?”
“Where did Fin get his web shirt from?”
and “Why Thunderbird basses Pete?”
My questions (however insignificant they may sound now) just didn’t stop and I must have tested every brain cell in my company’s head. The atmosphere was definitely very relaxed, and I believe it was also the band’s approach to their work, this helping with the creativity, something we experienced first hand on our first trip to the studio.
Moving over to the main studio complex in the Viva co-piloted by our genial host Mr Pete Way, we sat quietly waiting for the playback of a track that we would later get to know as ‘Land That’s Lost The Love’, but not before we were first introduced to legendary drummer Jerry Shirley and legendary producer Liam Sternberg. As the volume exploded from the studio monitors Tonka picked up his BC Rich guitar and started to play – “God, this was heaven (tonight).”
Returning once again to the studio house it was at this point that Fin Muir took us under his wing and the fun really began. The Brew had started to flow and the irrepressible Scotsman was soon relating tales of how awesome it had been for him to finally meet David Lee Roth whilst also adding in some unprintable stories about Rob Halford, then suddenly out of the blue Pete Way chips in and asks me what music I was listening to… Umm “UFO” I quickly replied, “Oh and Waysted”.
I bet he must have thought, “We got a right live one here.”
As time marched on we sat and watched Waysted’s film of the day, which turned out to be Some Like It Hot, with more Brews being opened all I can remember thinking was “this cannot be bloody happening to me”, but it most certainly was, and eventually we had to say our goodbyes, but not before my copy of the Waysted mini album had been borrowed by the band, with the intention being that they were to rerecord ‘Hurt So Good’ from said opus for their as yet untitled new album. Of course this was an instant chance for us to return to Rockfield at a future date, so I duly handed over my most prized and recently signed copy.
Our next visit was some two weeks later, and it was considerably shorter, mainly due to the recording process having fallen behind schedule, plus Jimmy Dilella had arrived on the scene to play keyboards and rhythm guitar. Jimmy being jokingly referred to as “Tristan the fucking yank” by Fin, largely because he had also brought with him a transatlantic bug, which had then been contracted by the entire band including the singer, so hence his acerbic comment. This had put the frontman’s input into the album way behind, to the point where he was asking US whether to leave the spoken word intro to ‘Land That’s Lost The Love’ on the finished album version or not (we said “yes” just in case you were wondering), whilst also singing us his initial ideas for ‘Hang ‘em High’ over a basic backing track on a tape recorder in his room.
We didn’t visit the main studio on this occasion, but before we left Fin told us that the album was going to be called ‘The Good The Bad The Waysted’, and would boast cover art akin to a Clint Eastwood western. With Fin playing the part of the preacher in the pulpit, and Pete and Tonka playing the parts of the banditos. He went on to say that the reverse sleeve would be a shot over his shoulder revealing a whiskey bottle in his bible. So with this mouth watering insight we left Rockfield with smiles firmly fixed on our faces.
Some months later with the album’s release this elaborate sleeve idea was never seemingly developed and in its place we got a rather downmarket silhouetted group photo instead. Furthermore the UK tour intended to support the album’s release was cancelled leaving us with a solitary TV appearance on the rather patchy Channel 4 rock show ECT to remind us of what I like to refer to as quite possibly the most underrated British rock ‘n’ roll bands of my generation.
I remember the day I finally found out that my favourite band were no more well, as it was the same day that Metallica first headlined Hammersmith Odeon on the ‘Master Of Puppets’ tour. That date was 21st September 1986 and I bumped into Pete stood at the back of the stalls, he was looking very fit and was dressed head to toe in black shiny PVC, half recognising me he whispered in ear the words I really did not want to hear. Fin was no longer the singer in Waysted and an American singer by the name of Danny Vaughn was due to front the band’s next studio album soon to be recorded for new label EMI.
That night for me Waysted actually died, as the band were never to recapture the spirit or energy of their past and the way too smooth for my ears ‘Save Your Prayers’, brought to an end what had been a torrid 3 year love affair with a band that had blown apart many existing musical boundaries for me as a fan.
The original version of this article was actually first published in issue number 5 of the UFO Appreciation Society magazine ‘Misty Green & Blue’ way back in 1997, a time when I never thought I’d ever see a picture of Waysted again, never mind see them back in the flesh recording new material. However a few short years later and as if by magic a Waysted fronted by Fin Muir was once again back within our midst as the band proclaimed themselves to be ‘Back From The Dead’ with a 2004 album by the same name.
But that my friends is a story for another day as what I really want you all to do now is go and dig out a copy of any of the initial three albums that Waysted released with Fin at the helm on whatever format you might still have them on, crank up your stereos crack open a cool one or six and join me as we “fuck off and get Waysted” once again.