50thirdand3rd

World of Twist – ‘Sons of the Stage’

Last Saturday’s Record of the Day was World of Twist’s 1990 debut single, The Storm. This week it’s World of Twist’s third – and last – single, Sons of the Stage.

YouTube player

Sons of the Stage is another psychedelic, indie-dance monster with a killer bassline at the bottom, a charismatic Tony Ogden vocal on the surface, and swirling depths of sound in between.

The floor’s an ocean and this wave is breaking
Your head is gone and your body’s shaking

It’s every bit as good as The Storm and went on to be a bigger club hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It made such an impression on young Noel and Liam Gallagher that they considered naming their fledgling band Sons of the Stage before settling on Oasis.

This was the last taster the public got ahead of World of Twist’s hotly anticipated debut album, Quality Street. Part two of the World of Twist story – the demise – begins with the release of that album.

Quality Street was a huge disappointment; to critics, to fans and to the band themselves. There was nothing wrong with the songs, but the production – the hugely expensive production – was awful. The intricate depths of instrumentation were buried and Tony Ogden’s vocal was pushed too high in the mix. Ogden wasn’t a strong singer in the traditional sense, but his enigmatic vocals were perfect as an equal component of a song. On Quality Street, his voice was up on a pedestal and expected to carry several songs. The rhythm section that had provided the engine for singles like Sons of the Stage and The Storm sounded weedy and weak. In short, it just didn’t sound good.

World of Twist - Quality Street

In 2005, Tony Ogden gave his honest appraisal of the album experience:

“We had an amazing time. We wanted to make the greatest psychedelic dance rock album ever and there was a lot of coke and E in the studio. But the album came out at half normal volume. We’d spent £250,000 making an album with the smallest bollocks in pop history! The band just fell apart. We were smoking marijuana for breakfast and that led to communication problems. I didn’t wanna sing, the guitarist didn’t wanna play. When the company didn’t get a hit they threw us in the bin. I was devastated – I spent four years on smack watching Third Reich movies because the good guys always win. I’m really sorry for letting our fans down. But I’d ask anyone to play that World of Twist album 20 times with every dial on full. If it doesn’t rock, come and smash it over my head.”

World of Twist were swiftly dropped from their label as a direct result of Quality Street. What happened next is hard to definitively say. It depends on which band member you believe, and sometimes, on which version of what that band member says in contradicting quotes. Either they were set to be picked up by Creation Records and either refused to sign or gambled on asking for an exorbitant advance, not caring whether they won or lost. Or World of Twist was only ever meant to be a temporary art project and the album was the pre-planned conclusion of this project. Or Tony Ogden suddenly lost all his confidence and tried to take a less integral role in the band with either another band member or a new recruit taking over as frontman. Whatever the truth, Quality Street was their first and last album. World of Twist had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and were finished.

A lot of love remained for the band, even as it became increasingly obvious that they weren’t ever coming back. After the split, Tony Ogden continued making music for his own pleasure and rebuilt his self-belief away from the spotlight. He’d been making tentative steps towards a return to the industry when he died suddenly in 2006, aged just 44.

World of Twist never achieved the level of success they deserved or attained the riches that so many less original bands did during the ‘90s – the almost Sons of the Stage, for example. But like a brilliant young football player who wows their home crowd for a couple of seasons before injuries and alcoholism derail the career everyone had anticipated for them, they made a deep and lasting impression on everyone they reached and their legend only grows as the years pass.

World of Twist - Sons of the Stage 12" picture disc

About author View all posts Author website

Nick Perry

Nick writes fact, fiction and opinion in various places including
his music blog noisecrumbs.com. His musical tastes cover indie, grunge, golden-era hip hop, punk, funk, psychedelia and a big portion of distortion. You can and should follow him on Twitter @NoiseCrumbs.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.