Mud is an early 70s glam band who achieved success as one of the 'Chinichapp' bands, that is, bands performing songs written by Nicky Chin and Mike Chapmann. This same team wrote songs and controlled the careers of Suzi Quatro, Smokie and Sweet. Three successful Chinichapp Mud singles were Crazy, Hypnosis, and Dynamite.
Use Your Imagination is the album they made after leaving the Chinichapp stable to feature self-penned songs. They had already started writing their own songs, but those songs never went further than B-sides of singles.
Originally this alum came out in December 1975 on Private Stock - the same label that released Blondie's first single X Offender and the Blondie album. Private Stock also released many early disco records, before the word was dirtied by Saturday Night Fever, the movie that broke disco, but also changed it permanently from all night dance indulgence with like minded souls in underground clubs, to a narccissistic ritual epitomized by the velvet rope policies of Studio 54.
On the cover of this record, the band look like Bay City Roller wannabees. Their idea of 'glam' was matching powder blue polyester suits with gold lamé detailing and shoes. The sound that they play varies greatly, from bubblegum pop to 50s styled doo-wop. But you can see where bands like The Records got the ideas that brought them hit singles like Teenarama and Starry Eyes.
The title song Use Your Imagination has a different sound than any other track except the bonus tracks. It sounds a bit like Tony Rivers & The Castaways. If it came out in a more recent era it would have fit on El Records, Siesta, Marina or Elefant. It is my favorite song on the disc.
The other two songs I like are Hair of the Dog and L'L'Lucy. Like five of the other songs on the disc, L'L'Lucy was written by guitarist Rob Davis and bassist Ray Stiles (the band was rounded out by vocalist Les Gray and drummer Dave Mount). It was the single that came out before this record, peaking at #10 in the UK and sitting in the Top 20 in countries throughout mainland Europe. Hair of the Dog is the only song co-written by Dave Mount. It has lyrics that reek of cliché (concerning a boy's introduction to manhood by a woman), but the song is catchy.
The songs I don't like are the 50s styled tracks written by P. Wainman and J. Goodison. She's Got the Devil in Her Eyes, 43792 (I'm Bustin' You) - which reminds me of the hotrod classic Radar by Mr. Bear & His Bearcats, and Show Me You're a Woman.
The original record ended with a cover of the Tommy Boyce / Curtis Lee song Under the Moon of Love. The female backing vocals may remind you of Mott The Hoople on songs like Roll Away the Stone. Under the Moon of Love was a originally produced by Phil Spector, and was one of only two hit singles for Curtis Lee(the other was Pretty Little Angel Eyes).
There are two bonus tracks. My Love Is Your Love was originally the B-side of the L'L'Lucy 7inch. It has the same subtle sound as the title track Use Your Imagination. Don't You Know was originally released as the B-side of Show Me You’re A Woman . It has that easy sound once again. Mud recorded one more album after this one, called It's Better Than Working. Perhaps these easypop songs reveal the direction the band was moving.
Use Your Imagination is not a crucial album to own by any means, but if you have kept your eyes on the recent interest in glam, witnessed by CDs such as the best of Jobriath on Attak or RPM's 70s series, this disc will sit alongside those releases quite comfortably.