Pub rock was both a musical idea and a political movement in British rock from the early 1970s to the early 1980s when the heroes of the 1960s outgrown the audience they had played for, from from when punk had yet to rear its gobby head and ending when MTV was still a sci-fi dream. It’s a special genre in that it’s defined less by a specific musical style and more by the places the bands performed in: London pubs that played live music, often in a downstairs room. from the main bar, where patrons drank and danced. The Tally Ho pub in Kentish Town is widely regarded as the birthplace of the scene, which began when American band Eggs Over Easy – which had migrated from the Bay Area to London and couldn’t get concerts – managed to persuading the owner to rent they play it and replace the traditional jazz music that the pub had previously performed.
London-based group Brinsley Schwarz had similar difficulties getting booked after suffering a disastrous publicity stunt when their managers flew two planes full of British journalists to see the group’s American debut at the Fillmore East… and they bombed. The group caught the eggs at Tally Ho – who The Guardian nicknamed in retrospect “CBGB rock’s pub” – and soon there was a residency as well.
Pub rock groups were heavily influenced by American roots music – blues, country and folk – and Jamaican ska. Oddly enough, most would probably all be classified as American groups if they existed today. It was a homecoming movement that was clearly designed to offer an alternative to the glam, pomp and circumstance surrounding the greatest British rock bands of the time. The London punk scene has evolved from many of the same scenes where pub rock flourished, and many conductors and punk musicians have emerged from pub rock groups including Joe Strummer in The 101ers and Elvis Costello in Flip City.
The movement has never produced revolutionary stars or, with one exception, successful singles. But by the mid-1970s, it was a mainstay of the London music scene, with bands playing in pubs all over the city and attracting punters to drink and enjoy the good sound. The music of his best groups stands the test of time and has certainly rocked with fervor. The following are the best of pub rockers and their best songs.
10) “Caldonia” by bees make honey
This video of kids drinking Imperial Pints and the band playing a daring cover of a jump blues hit by Louis Jordan and the Tympani Five at the Nag’s Head pub pretty much sums up pub rock philosophy in a nutshell.
9) “Back on the Train” by The Electric Bluebirds
Formed at The Duke pub in Deptford in 1979, the Bluebirds featured members of the Realists and Fabulous Poodles and were in the same circle as Squeeze’s Mark Knopfler and Glenn Tilbrook. Accordionist Alan Dunne, who later performed with Van Morrison, is credited with bringing Cajun music to the UK pub scene. Those who thought Mumford & Sons had invented something new will hear their style some three decades earlier. Bonus points: Richard Thompson plays guitar on this track.
8) “Doghouse” by Nine Below Zero
Guitarist / singer Dennis Greaves led a fairly straightforward hard-blues pub band before changing the name to Nine Below Zero after the Sonny Boy song Williamson II and recording the hot album Living in the marquee in 1979.
7) “Teenage Depression” by Eddie and the Hot Rods
Known for their boisterous gigs at the London pub in Kensington, the band went straight to punk even as they got rid of the plush mascot “Eddie”.
6) “How long” per Ace
Led by future Squeeze / Mike + the Mechanics member and Eric Clapton’s sideman Paul Carrack, Ace played a smooth R&B sound that produced this top 20 in England and America.
5) “Switchboard Susan” by Mickey Jupp
One of the unsung heroes of pub rock, Jupp has written many classic songs in the genre, a number of which were later recorded by Nick Lowe and / or Dave Edmunds, the co-leaders of Rockpile – the only band that was able to getting the most mileage out of the roots rock music philosophy of the pub.
4) “England’s Glory” by Kilburn and the High Roads
Named after the North London street where they played and drank in many pubs, this group was the medium of the brilliant Ian dury, who wrote many original songs for this unit and its punk-era spin-off Ian Dury and the Blockheads.
3) “Coast to Coast” by Ducks Deluxe
Among the early pub rockers they emerged from the Welsh rock scene, combining team members from Brinsley Schwarz and Help Yourself. Their flint-rimmed hard rock was the antithesis of the glam rock they set out to defeat and they quickly became regulars at Tally Ho. What it is. Martin Belmont continued to perform with Graham Parker’s backing band The Rumor, while former Ducks Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster later formed the Motors and enjoyed minimal success during the New Wave movement.
2) “She does it right” by Dr Feelgood
Dr. Feelgood quickly became the face of pub rock, then a British rock institution under the direction of singer Lee Brilleaux and the astonishing Wilko Johnson, whose unique rhythm / lead guitar technique sounds like the explosion of a spring. of disarticulated watch, and which made a burning album with the songs of Roger Daltrey of Feelgood, Go home (see our opinion here).
1) “What is so funny about peace, love and understanding” by Brinsley Schwarz
Vocalist / bassist Nick Lowe, keyboardist Bob Andrews and guitarist Brinsley Schwarz all made significant contributions to the music scene after leaving this group: Lowe as a solo artist, Rockpile member and producer; Andrews and Schwarz in the rumor. Lowe’s most famous composition became the cornerstone of her career and earned her a small fortune when it was featured in the movie Whitney Houston. The bodyguard and on the film’s soundtrack album, which has sold several million copies.