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Waysted: unfulfilled potential, on-stage brilliance, songwriting genius

Get that bus out, Pete Way’s in town

Waysted: Heroes Die Young – Waysted Volume Two: 2000-2007
(Image: © HNE Recordings)

It’s December 2008. We are in freezing cold North Wales. Prestatyn Sands, to be precise, the Pontins calamity zone that provided the backdrop for the 1973 film Holiday On The Buses and is currently staging the second Hard Rock Hell festival, during which the band Waysted will – God willing – be performing. 

This writer is standing outside the resort’s fish and chip shop with Waysted’s bassist, former UFO/Fastway stalwart Pete Way who is bemoaning the fact that he cannot find his chalet. 

“I can’t find my chalet,” he repeats for the umpteenth time, while fans gather round bemusedly. The only solution is to retreat to the bar, where upon arrival we discover that Way has no cash and his credit cards don’t work. And he can’t put drinks on his room because he doesn’t know where his room is…

Apologies for the lengthy preamble, but the above really sums up the essence of life as a member of Waysted, and also explains why one of the discs in this collection is called Organized Chaos… Live. Because against the odds Way and his wastrels turned out to be the band of Hard Rock Hell II. 

Listening to this Heroes Die Young collection is a poignant experience, bringing back memories of unfulfilled potential, on-stage brilliance, songwriting genius, predictable shambolicism and ill-fitting leather trousers – all at the same time. 

The five-CD package concentrates on Waysted’s latter years and comprises: Wilderness Of Mirrors, an album of demos for the 1986 album Save Your Prayers; 2004’s Back From The Dead full-length, featuring hotshot new guitarist Chris George; Boot From The Dead, with tracks recorded live at London’s Mean Fiddler in February 2005, plus bonus UFO songs with Paul ‘Tonka’ Chapman on guitar; the aforementioned Organized Chaos… Live, recorded at the Barfly in Glasgow in September 2005; and 2007 studio album The Harsh Reality. (Hope you’re keeping up, as there’ll be a test later.)

To these ears, the highlight is the final disc, The Harsh Reality, a criminally underrated release featuring the hipswingin’ hit-single-that-never-was Keepin’ It Sweet, the aptly rampant Out Of Control, and a cover of Mike D’Abo’s much-covered Handbags And Gladrags, which frontman Fin Muir had sung for the opening theme of the Ricky Gervais-starring TV series The Office

Oh, and a special mention goes to Breakfast Show (from Back From The Dead), a surreal stomp-fest that finds Way and Muir occupying an alternative, er, reality as GMTV presenters Eamonn Holmes and Anthea Turner (or similar). 

A final plea: if anyone ever tracks down that elusive Hard Rock Hell chalet, let’s put a blue plaque on it with the words: “Pete Way wasn’t here.” How very Waysted that would be.

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.