Soundcheck Books LLP

A Howlin' Wind: Pub Rock And The Birth Of New Wave

  • Publish Date: 2012-01-01
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: John Blaney

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Take a trip to a lost world. A world permeated by the odour of stale tobacco and overflowing toilets; a world where your feet stick to the carpet and the walls are covered in peeling flock wallpaper. The beer is warm, but the band on stage is hot. Welcome to the world of 1970s pub rock.

Author John Blaney traces the history of pub rock from its Mod roots through to its reinvention as new wave. He covers all the essential bands such as the American Eggs Over Easy (who started it all), Brinsley Schwarz, Kilburn &The High Roads, Dr Feelgood, Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello and more, in a fascinating study that has been painstakingly researched and is well argued.

Crucial to the movement were Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera, both of whom managed Pub Rock bands before setting up Stiff Records. With little money, or inclination, to sign big acts they turned to the Pub Rock caterpillars they knew and turned them in new wave butterflies. Ian Dury, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Elvis Costello were all on roads to nowhere, but made it big as a result of Stiff's involvement.

The book ends with the Be Stiff tour of 1979, when a 'new' new wave was breaking with Wreckless Eric, Lene Lovich and Rachel Sweet.

With eye-witness accounts from those involved, including a lengthy interview with Dave Robinson, John Blaney explains perfectly how pub rock started, flourished and reinvented itself as the new wave: 'A Howlin' Wind' that blew away the cobwebs from a moribund music scene.

Of particular interest to US audiences will be the attempts to conquer American by some of the acts. Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and Ian Dury succeeded (as did Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds to a lesser extent), but Dr Feelgood failed due to an unwillingness to play the corporate game.

This book is different from Will Birch's excellent No Sleep Till Canvey Island, and is complementary to it as Will looks at the When and Where, whereas John covers the Why and How. Will has been very supportive of our book.

In addition to an 8 page plates section there are black and white images of people and memorabilia scattered throughout the book, making this a lovely memento of an era when the music mattered.

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