Swords Of A Thousand Men – Tenpole Tudor

“Deep in the castle and back from the wars, back with my lady and the fires burned tall”

When I was a kid I thought this sounded like the most subversive and weird record around. I knew who Ed Tudor was because of his connection to The Sex Pistols and all that ‘dress up and mess up’ crowd. Him singing Who Killed Bambi in The Great Rock & Roll Swindle left quite the lasting impression. The talk on the playground was that that weirdo had a real hit single in the real world and it was bonkers. We were 101 Rock and Roll Archaeologists with just a smattering of knowledge but where possible we were joining the dots that we could.

“Hear their shout, hear their roar, they’ve probably had a barrel of ale and much, much more”

My school buddy Marks’ Dad had Swords Of A Thousand Men on seven inch. That seemed pretty ruddy subversive as well. Marks’ Dad had a lot of records but they were all quite grown up. He had everything by Queen. He had The Police and Dire Straits and Genesis. Lots of Genesis, but he stopped short of any Heavy Metal or Punk. And yet he had School’s Out and some Slade on single and he had Swords Of A Thousand Men. Who knows why? We asked. He wasn’t aware it was anything out of the lanes of the top 40. In that era parents still bought current hit singles on occasion. My old man had a thing for Alison Moyet (she was from our home town) and mum still followed the 80’s survivors of Motown. Diana Ross and Tina Turner and the like. Rod Stewart was parents music. They all had that pink velvet packaged Greatest Hits and every new build house came with Frampton Comes Alive, Abba Arrival and the Grease Soundtrack preinstalled. But Tenpole Tudor? That didn’t fit at all.

“We had to meet the enemy a mile away, thunder in the air and the sky turned grey, assembling the knights and their swords were sharp, there was not a hope in your English hearts”

Never in a million years did I think it would make suitable holiday advert music. And yet here I am seeing it every other commercial break for the best part of a year advertising holidays in the UK where a kid fantasizes about riding a Roman chariot along the surf on a beach, in Wales. Adverts for product people can’t use in an era where you can’t got out (cheap holidays in other peoples misery?) and cuddly old Ed is more famous for being the middle installment of a trilogy of game show hosts that started with The Rocky Horror Shows’ Richard O’Brien and concluded with Richard Ayoade.

“Hooray, hooray, hooray yeah”

Edward Felix Tudor-Pole was going by Eddie Tenpole when he fronted his punk band and released many culture enthralled records like his cover of Rock Around The Clock, the bands ‘other’ hit Wunderbar and a metal version with a band called Skyclad. Later there were myriad compilations with brilliant titles like History Lessens scooping up enough ETP to make a solid best of. Swords inspired Garth Ennis when writing his now huge comic book The Boys. Eds’ filmography includes him playing roles in alongside Bowie in Absolute Beginners, Straight To Hell (with Joe Strummer), Sid & Nancy, Drowning By Numbers, Kull The Conqueror (not Krull, they’re different things) and The Harry Potter Movies (he played Borgin of Borgin & Burke).

But what a song! What a fantastic single. What a kooky odd pop star. What was Mark’s dad doing with a copy?

8 thoughts on “Swords Of A Thousand Men – Tenpole Tudor

  1. Dammit! I’m catching up! I loved Tenpole Tudor from the first! Believe it or not, the promordial ooze days of MTV in America in ’81-’82. would let “Swords Of A Thousand Men” or “Wunderbar” [possibly “Throwing My baby Out With The Bathwater” as well, since I can recall each of those songs] sneak into night owl rotation and I managed to snag copies on video when I’d get a new blank tape and set it to record MTV when I was asleep. I always wanted these records but to this day I only have “Rock Around the Clock” on a Punk cover version album. Sad, really. But all of the Tenpole Tudor CDs are on my Endless Want List® for potential action when the stars align.

    Liked by 1 person

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