Saturday 13 January 2018

Two sides to every story

I love unsung heroes. Especially in the music biz. Those foot soldiers who are quite prepared to sit in the wings while others, more worthy or (often) not, receive the plaudits. One such hero is Phil Wainman.

Without Phil Wainman there would be no Sweet. He's like a poor man's George Martin: he believed in the band from the time they played at his wedding in 1969 - back when they were a struggling little bubblegum band traipsing up and down the country in a beat up Commer van.

He took them under his wing, introduced them to (the go-to songwriters of the seventies) Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, secured them a recording contract deal with RCA and ended up producing *all* of their Top Ten singles.

In the film below he talks about his charges very touchingly ('the boys') in a wide ranging interview that spans all aspects of his illustrious career - Wainman was also at the helm of all the Bay City Rollers' anthems, twiddled the knobs on Next by Alex Harvey and even produced Generation X's debut album.

But his tour-de-force has got to be The Ballroom Blitz (fast forward to 37:48). Not surprisingly, as a drummer, for him it was all about the tub-thumping pagan skins. It was a song built around Mick Tucker's relentless syncopation; I know that, and you know that.

However, the way Andy Scott (the Sweet's axe man) tells it, it's all about the guitar. Drums, what drums? The rest of the band appear to have been airbrushed out of the story altogether. Guitarists, eh?

Name checks abound - Sandy Nelson, Chuck Berry, The Beatles - but, interestingly, neither he nor Wainman reveal the true identity of the inspiration behind their 1973 monster smash (#2 in this country, #5  in the US where it was released a couple of years later).

So where did Ballroom Blitz really come from? Take a listen to this. A Saturday night record, if ever I heard one.

Bobby Comstock - Let's Stomp (1963)


  1. Wow! That Bobby Comstock intro is it! (Reminds me of the Father Ted episode when they rip off the "Nin Huguen and the Huguenotes" song for Eurovision.

  2. That Phil Wainman interview is a very interesting watch - thanks for bringing it to my attention John.

  3. TS - Yes, you get the feeling he's someone you wouldn't mind being trapped in a lift with.

  4. That's brilliant - I love these inspirational revelations.

    1. C - I just love the guys who stay in the background. Phil Wainman spent all his working life either behind a drum kit or a recording desk. I'm so glad someone gave *him* the microphone for once.