At least according to my humble opinion, "Silver Woman" by Badge is one of the catchiest (and one of the very best) songs of the whole New Wave Of British Heavy Metal period. Unfortunately, the Humberside outfit remained something of a one-hit wonder as they didn't manage to release anything commercially apart from the mentioned 7" single back in the early '80's.
Badge originally formed one year before the "Silver Woman" single came out on Metal Minded in 1981. Vocalist Graham Waudby explains: "Badge was formed in 1980 when I returned from working in Holland. I was in a punk outfit called The Reverend Jones Band before I left to work in Holland, I was the drummer and singer. Then with Tony Dixon (guitar and riff maker) we started writing Badge songs in Bridlington, East Yorkshire."
High Roller Records is proud to announce the first-ever longplay album of Badge consisting of eleven songs in total. Graham Waudby is commenting on the individual compositions: "The earliest Badge songs recorded were 'Silver Woman', 'Traveller in Time' and 'Blizzard' in Ken Giles' 4 track studio in Bridlington in 1980. Then we recorded 'Silver Woman' and 'Something I've lost' for the vinyl single in 1981 in the Neat Records studio in Wallsend, Newcastle, with the highly regarded Micky Sweeny as engineer. We beat the record for beer drinking in one day. The Tygers Of Pan Tang coming a close second! The songs 'Crying Time', 'Drift away' and 'Finding my Way' were recorded in 1988 at Animal Tracks studio in the city of Hull. The songs 'See me gone', 'Natalya from the Volga' and 'Driving home' were included in our set but never formally recorded in a studio. They were put down by us as demo tapes in the guitarist's home studio … around 1984. The extended 'Silver Woman' version was an experiment in mixing techniques by our guitarist.
The eleven songs on the album are our favourite songs, also to create a nice balance throughout the album. We have other songs on old cassettes and CD's, half songs, riffs, lyrics etc., which were never properly finished off."
The number "Natalya from the Volga" immediately caught my eye - a curious title. Graham Waudby explains the meaning behind the song: "The song 'Natalya from the Volga' is the story of Natalya, a teenage girl who was a victim of the legacy of World War II in Berlin, finding herself divided from her family who lived on the west allied side of the wall. She became a political dissident during the cold war, a dangerous thing to be in the red sector of town. Betrayed by a Soviet 'hero', she ended up in the Siberian salt mines, then onto a communist gulag farm by the river Volga. Here she would stare at her reflection in the frozen Volga and sing her rhyme 'Take me from the Volga, take me from this frozen waste'. Did she make it home after the wall came down?" I reckon we will never know … An interesting topic nevertheless, not touched by many Metal bands!
As already mentioned, "Silver Woman" was not only Badge's key song, so to say, but one of the most memorable tunes of the entire N.W.O.B.H.M. era. A stroke of genius. Composing this classic came quite naturally says Graham: "'Silver Woman' was written in about twenty minutes! I had just returned from working in Holland where some weekends were spent in Amsterdam. I was in the 'Old Sailor Bar' in a certain area of town, when I looked across the canal bridge to a brightly lit doorway. There in silhouette was my silver woman in a sparkling silver dress, long dark hair, Latino type, just gorgeous! We felt this song was a catchy, fairly heavy metal, interesting and commercial tune. It also had a simplicity to it!" As a result, the number climbed to position # 27 of the HM charts: "We got into the Sounds music paper with a photo taken at the Newcastle Mayfair playing to 2,500 people on a Neat Records heavy metal bill with Venom, Blitzkrieg and Fist."
Technically, "Silver Woman" was issued by a company called Metal Minded but Graham reveals: "Metal Minded and Neat Records were one and the same company, we didn't mind which label we were on as long as we were recording. We never really knew why we didn't record on Neat Records." Okay, so this issue will remain a mystery (at least until John Tucker's book on the history of Neat Records will see the light of day via Iron Pages Books).
After the 7" single was released in 1981, Badge (named after the Cream song) reinforced their live activities: "We supported Ethel The Frog at the Humberside Theatre in Hull. They spoke to us before the gig and told us not be nervous about supporting them! They never spoke to us after the gig because the audience wanted to hear more of Badge! We were also to be lined up with some tour supports with Judas Priest and Budgie at that time. Due to some immature fallouts within the band we lost our bass player, by the time we replaced him that one chance were the door opens for you had gone. Consequently we lost touch with Neat Records and never recorded again with them - a real shame. That still hurts me today!"
Although the single was quite successful, the days for Badge were numbered: "After 'Silver Woman' was released, it was number one on every playlist in nearly every music outlet we contacted at the time: HMV, Red Rhino, Bailey Brothers in London and other independent music outlets. We were told that the single was not selling as well as they had hoped by the record company. We never found out how many singles were sold, so it looked liked we were duped … That's the music biz for you!
Badge never really split up for good, just sort of fizzled out a bit with lots of talk of reforming over the years. We had families, kids etc. Our guitarist has dried out in an alcohol clinic and is playing and writing again. Badge played at the Utopia club in 2003 to a great reception of which we have a live recording, some people even brought the 'Silver Woman' single to have it signed! Me and my old guitarist Pat are still writing material when we have time and with a desire to perform live again, doing the Badge set of course! Pat remastered and cleaned up the Badge album for me and to his credit he has done a great job."