VARIOUS ARTISTS – ” Surrender to the Rhythm ” The London Pub Rock Scene of the Seventies

Posted: July 19, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Out this week is the new multi-disc compilation, “Surrender to the Rhythm: The London Pub Rock Scene of the Seventies”. The collection is an excellent overview of pub rock, a phenomenon that helped paved the way for British punk. Before we get any further, though, we need to address a question many of our readers are probably asking themselves: What is “pub rock?”

“Pub rock” was a movement that lasted for a handful of years in the early to mid seventies. Pub rock bands played a back-to-basics style of rock-n-roll that was loose and unassuming. Though very much a London scene, pub rock was kick-started by an American group. In the spring of 1971, Eggs Over Easy were in London recording, when they convinced a local pub, the Tally Ho, to let the band play there on a regular basis. Their subsequent performances at the bar were a popular attraction, and other musicians and pub owners took notice. By 1973, it was a thriving scene.

Our copy of the last great pub rock anthology, from EMI in the 1990s, “Surrender to the Rhythm” is probably the last word we could ever want to hear on a genre that history seems to have crunched into a boozy after thought, but which in reality was the most fun you could have by saying “oh yes, I’m definitely over eighteen” in a deep voice on a Friday night.

Sequestered in Kentish Town to record an album with Hendrix/Slade producer Chas Chandler, in the spring of 1971 exiled American band Eggs Over Easy persuaded the landlord of local pub The Tally Ho to let them perform at the venue. Though the band were back in America by the end of the year, they inadvertently became the catalysts that sparked the pub rock revolution, with the likes of Brinsley Schwarz, Ducks Deluxe and Bees Make Honey playing a burgeoning circuit that included The Kensington in Russell Gardens, The Lord Nelson on Holloway Road and The Nashville in West Kensington.

All of the key acts are here, and three CDs, seventy-plus tracks, mean they more than outweigh those peculiar gatecrashers. The Feelgoods, the Kilburns, the Hot Rods, the Kursaal Flyers, Brett Marvin, Eggs Over Easy, Brinsley Schwarz, Roogalator and, a few tracks earlier, frontman Danny Adler’s Smooth Loser predecessors, and Supercharge… Spin Cycle’s own pick of the bunch, on the strength of so many nights spent in dark, smokey pubs while Albie and the gang mashed high octane funk with low-brow humour, and turned “Save Your Kisses For Me” into a memory to be cherished. Surrender To The Rhythm charts the origins and development of the London pub rock scene throughout the Seventies, featuring all of the aforementioned bands.

Great choice of songs, too. Ian Gomm’s brooding take on Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” Bees Make Honey playing “My Funny Valentine,” Ducks Deluxe’s “Heart on my Sleeve” and frontman, the late Sean Tyla, popping up later with his Gang.

We hear Graham Parker kick through a live “Back to Schooldays” and Dave Edmunds, who was a godfather of the whole scene without ever actually playing the circuit, offers up a couple of numbers. Cado Belle, fronted by the magnificent Maggie Riley, Chilli Willie and the Red Hot Peppers, Starry Eyed and Laughing, Ace….

Yes, things do get a little weird towards the end as the likes of Darts, Chris Rea, Sniff ’n’ the Tears and the Fabulous Poodles start snapping at the originators’ ankles. But the always excellent Philip Rambow kicks out “Young Lust” like a lover, and the Inmates’ “Dirty Water” threatens to launch a whole new Pub Rock movement just as the third disc ends. A magnificent package, then, full of magnificent music. If you were there the first time, it’s a lot of what you yourself might have chosen. And if you weren’t, pick up a pint, light a ciggy, grab a space at the front, and please try not to sweat in my beer. With four hours of vital, vibrant music – including several previously unreleased tracks – bolstered by a 48-page booklet crammed with photos, memorabilia, anecdotes etc, Surrender To The Rhythm is the definitive aural document of a movement that would revolutionise the British music scene.

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