(4 / 5)
Superb 71-track triple-disc set celebrating the London pub rock scene of the 1970s.
The usual suspects from that scene back in the day are all here, such as Dr Feelgood, Ducks Deluxe, Brinzley Shwarz, Stray, Kursaal Flyers, Chas & Dave, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Matchbox, The Pirates, Roogalator, Dave Edmunds and many more.
There’s also a good array of new names to me, and a smattering of big names too, as with many of the pub rock bands of the era never committing their music to record, so this set throws in a few big name acts….
Such as Status Quo, Mott the Hoople, Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Thin Lizzy who had the same down-to-earth attitude as the pub rock lot, but were too big to play the circuit by that time. There’s contributions from Squeeze, Chris Rea, Elvis (not that one – Costello!) and The Jam.
Then there’s Kilburn and The High Roads, who later evolved into Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Steve Ellis, who fronted Love Affair. Stretch with their hit “Why Did You Do it?”.
Heavy Metal Kids, whose singer was the late’ Auf Wiedersehen Pet’ actor Gary Holton. This was a very under-rated band of their time and Holton had a Steve Marriott/Robert Plant power and raunch to his vocal. Fun fact: The band reformed for a short time after Holton’s death – with ‘Nasty Nick’ from Eastenders, aka actor John Altman as lead singer.
Who else we got here? Graham Parker and the Rumour, Doo Wop revivalists Darts, Billy Bremner (not the Leeds Utd player!), one hit wonders Sniff ‘N’ The Tears and the timeless “Driver’s Seat”.
Streetband, whose frontman was Paul Young. Brewers Droop featuring a young guitarist called Mark Knopfler.
Loads more strong tracks from bands and artists who became household names and those who disappeared without trace – some sadly and some gladly!
This is not a live album, by the way. It’s a compilation of album tracks and singles (and one demo). Among the 23 + 24 + 24 tracks across the three CDs, there are six previously unreleased cuts – from Smooth Loser, Roogalator, Bees Make Honey, Byantium, Razorbacks and Philip Rambow.
Among the songs we may remember are the Wilko Johnson-penned Dr Feelgood 1975 single “She Does It Right”, Darts’ two tracks “Daddy Cool” and “The Girl Can’t Help it”, Chris Rea’s “Fool If You Think It’s Over” and The Pirates “Shakin’ All Over “ (1978 studio version).
Great to hear Cado Belle and their soulful offering “Stone’s Throw From Nowhere”, with Maggie Reilly’s fab vocal, who went on to work with Mike Oldfield.
It was a single in 1976 on the Anchor label, from their recommended self-titled album from the same year. Three members of Kokomo guested on the album, which was Scottish band Cado Bell’s only long player.
On this compilation, there’s four hours of music here and a 48-page booklet with lots of photos. All in all, a pleasant stroll down musical memory lane that reminds us of those smoke-filled, boozy haunts on London’s musical map.
Such as….. The Hope and Anchor, Islington, Dublin Castle in Camden, The Greyhound in Fulham, The Torrington, The Nashville, The Bull & Gate, Putney’s Half Moon, The Sir Geroge Robey and a bunch of others who packed the place band after band. No karaoke or tribute acts then!
Ironically for a movement that was born and bred in London, it was an American band, Eggs Over Easy (they grab the second track on disc one here) who started the scene. While in the UK to record an album with The Animals’ bassist and Jimi Hendrix manager/producer Chas Chandler.
They rocked up to a jazz-only venue the Tally Ho in Kentish Town in 1971 – on the doorstep of their temporary digs – and blasted the gaff with country rock. Opening the door to other non-jazz acts to blag a gig there, and for other pubs around the city to realise they could sell a lot of beer and fill the place by booking this slew of bands who soon built a loyal following.
National Flag feature here, and that band played the famed Marquee venue 24 times in the space of fifteen months, but never broke through to the mainstream.
Those sweaty, noisy nights of great music to be had across London every weekend and many nights of the week back in the 70s – with the no pretence come-as-you-are freedom afforded to the punters and to the bands – are sadly missed.
Back then the nearest thing to social media was a gang of the bands’ mates going out in the middle of the night with a stack of home-made posters and a bucket of wallpaper paste and blitzing the city. Some getting nicked and fined for illegal flyposting – out again the next week doing the same thing!
By Robin Bishop
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’