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It’s 1974 and you’ve just downed seven pints at the local with your mates. Suddenly, the opening piano notes of Mud’s “Tiger Feet” comes bursting through the speakers. Without a moment’s hesitation, you leap to your feet and start awkwardly doing the ‘Ace’ to the relentless glam stomping beat, hollering out the lyrics in tour drunken state. In that moment, nothing else matters except chiming in on that dorky but irresistible “Tiger feet of the Tiger feet!” chorus.

Such was the magical pub power of Mud’s gloriously dumb “Tiger Feet.”

Somehow, this song transformed countless regular British blokes into hapless dancing bozos whenever it came on. The foot-stomping beat, cheesy vocals and nonsensical lyrics transformed this 1974 no.1 hit into a prime party anthem. For a few minutes, all inhibitions disappeared as everyone joined together in some truly silly synchronized “tiger” dancing.

If you grew up in the UK, “Tiger Feet” likely triggers nostalgic memories of questionable 70s dance moves and abundant adolescent energy. But where did this monster smash come from that coaxed even the most rhythmically impaired into momentary displays of carefree jiving? Grab your finest pair of creepers as we explore the backstory behind Mud’s contagiously corny classic.

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Mud first formed in 1966, consisting of Rob Davis on guitar, Ray Stiles on bass, Dave Mount on drums and Les Gray handling vocals. After seven years gigging around pubs and clubs, they finally got their big break in 1973, landing a weekly slot on the British music show “Lift Off With Ayshea.” They quickly gained attention for their glam rock look and 50s throwback sensibilities.

After finding a fan in producer Mickie Most, known for his work with Suzi Quatro and The Sweet, Mud secured a recording contract with his RAK Records label. Most recognized Mud’s potential for cheesy, high-energy songs that could get people dancing. They headed to the studio to cut their first single, “Crazy,” which became a top 10 hit and got them noticed.

But it was the follow up that would make Mud a household name across Britain. While on tour supporting Quatro, the band was inspired to write an ode to their grueling concert schedule and endless feet blisters. Putting a novelty spin on it, “Tiger Feet” was born, fusing a stomping glam beat with tongue-in-cheek lyrics about becoming half-man, half-tiger from all the dancing. Little did they know this silly song would soon take on a life of its own.

Released in February 1974, “Tiger Feet” immediately shot up the charts, becoming the highest entry ever at no.7. The foot-tapping piano intro, Gray’s enthusiastic vocals, the “ooh-be-dooh” backing vocals and group chants of “tiger feet” made it irresistibly catchy and fun, despite the ridiculous premise. After four weeks, it hit no.1 and would end up the UK’s best-selling single that year.

Fuelled by nonstop radio play, “Tiger Feet” permeated youth culture and instantly became a dance floor staple. Its simple moves of sideways arm swiping and foot stomp-stepping could be picked up by even the most uncoordinated lads or lasses. For three or four minutes, people could forget their troubles and just wildly boogie along to those crunchy dual guitars, bounding piano and persistent drum beats driving the tiger action.

Critical opinion was mixed, with some calling it derivative glam pop nonsense and others acknowledging its primal dance floor energy. But such debates mattered little to sweaty revelers leaping about and roaring along to “Tiger feet of the tiger feet, oh they’re falling down!” As inane as the song was, it had an undeniable ability to whip audiences into a frenzy.

Party animal extroverts Les Gray and Dave Mount hyped it up further with their spirited live performances and goofy tiger dancing everywhere they went. Their outrageous creepers and body-hugging spandex jumpsuits completed the absurdist visual spectacle. For a while, Mud were suddenly pop culture icons and a top concert draw, likely playing “Tiger Feet” multiple times per show to rapturous responses.

Of course, no craze lasts forever and soon “Tiger Feet” faded from prominence like so many novelty hits. But it remained Mud’s signature song and an emblem of 1970s kitsch. They’d score other Top 5 hits like “Lonely This Christmas” but never quite replicated the “Tiger Feet” formula. Yet today the opening piano line immediately transports British listeners back to a more carefree era of bellbottoms and reckless air-guitaring. Whatever the song’s artistic merits, for those who lived through its cultural moment, “Tiger Feet” claws its way into nostalgia’s heart forever. All together now: Tiger feet…..

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