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No Sleep Till Canvey Island: The Great Pub Rock Revolution Paperback – 6 Feb 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books; New edition edition (6 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753507404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753507407
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 378,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Sandwiched between Glam Rock and Punk Rock came Pub Rock: a bunch of back-to-basics Brit bands, tired of the increasingly pretentious direction music was taking during the early 1970s, who unloaded their amps into the back-rooms of pubs. Will Birch's No Sleep Till Canvey Island is an engrossing and breezily illuminating study of a previously ignored period in British pop history, summed up by Brinsley Schwarz's Nick Lowe as "the regrouping of a bunch of middle-class ex-Mods who had been through the hippie underground scene and realised it wasn't their cup of tea". The Brinsleys persevered, as did Graham Parker & The Rumour, Ian Dury, Bees Make Honey, Eggs Over Easy and Ace. Then along came Dr Feelgood. The Southend-based R&B quartet electrified everyone who saw them--and among the audience at their 1974 Guildford show were Paul Weller and Graham Parker. Pub Rock was turned on its head again by the arrival of one Andrew Jakeman--"the manager from another planet"--who within two years had transformed himself into "Jake Riviera", and DP McManus into "Elvis Costello"--but that's another book. The only problem with Pub Rock was that it was essentially a live phenomenon. Crowds packed into sweaty pubs to watch the bands pumping out high-energy R&B or English rock & roll, but the experience could never transfer effectively to disc--which probably led to its hung-over end: "the blind" as Birch writes, "were in most cases, leading the blind drunk!"--Patrick Humphries --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'An exhilarating anecdotal history' -- Q

'Illuminating ... what sustains the book is Will Birch's extraordinary attention to detail' -- Mojo

'Interesting ... knowledgeable ... 8/10' -- Loaded

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
Gotta congratulate you, Will. well worth the wait. Because it is written so fluidly, people will tend to read it very easily, without realising just how much research and thought and legwork went into it, without realising that every single page is a complicated jigsaw of narrative and quotes, all carefully selected and sifted and ordered. Beautifully clear and lucid, highly entertaining (some great witty and pithy lines), thoroughly absorbing, and for whiskery old historians like myself, very educational too. It will stand as the definitive book on the subject. Pete Frame
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 May 2000
Format: Paperback
Detailed, objective (especially for someone writing about a time when he was in a band himself) full of surprises and characters and managers and creative types unjustifiably a level of anonymity below all the usual Beatles/Rolling Stones/Punk `charceters` this is the kind of book that should be written about each period of British rock--even the Beat era of the Beatles hasn`t really had a serious adult look like this instead of all the fan-nonsense. If you know and like the work of Ian Dury, Graham Parker, Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe as well as an insight into how the music business really works for the journeyman talents--this is the book for you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 April 2000
Format: Paperback
If you see 1976 and the advent of punk as year zero, then this book will make you think again. Will Birch's work is a ripping yarn that shows how a small bunch of musicians and music business hustlers laid the groundwork for the taste switch from the "progressive" excesses of Yelpesis to the brief safety-pinned glory of the Sex Pistols and their snotty ilk. Rock music would never be the same again.
The research for this book has been exhaustive, and the result of the labour is a delight for those who were there and the only account to date of a scene that was so new, vibrant and "real" for a few brief years in the mid 70's. Opening with the ill-fated Famepushers trip to New York's Fillmore East for the debut of Brinsley Schwartz, Will (songwriter and drummer for the Kursaal Flyers) strips away the bullshit and myth that the hustlers wove around the events of the time to reveal the pure, unalloyed hype that lay beneath. The reaction to this was the creation of the pub rock phenomenon, and then the birth of Stiff Records, both of which are detailed here with care and affection.
The best music books make your toes tap and beg for the records themselves to be played. I've dusted off more old 7 inch singles while reading "No sleep..." than I have since I devoured Peter Guralnick's works on Elvis (Presley): Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. Now where have I put that Charlie and the Wide Boys E.P.?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "johnscottcree" on 22 July 2002
Format: Paperback
Serendipity - "the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident" is a marvellous thing. You look for a particular book in a library and find
something even better sitting next to it on the shelves (librarians do this on purpose). I was browsing the Amazon site and discovered in their list "No sleep
'til Canvey Island" by Will Birch, without knowing of its existence. I only knew Will as drummer of one of my favourite bands The Kursaal Flyers and record
producer.
A look at the blurb and a skim of the index to see what I'm in for, looked promising. Will's introduction was even better; a very reasonable synopsis of music in the life of a male of a certain age. After that, there was no sleep for me, almost. I read most of the book at one sitting. Will's is a very readable style. The
book fairly motors along. It's the tale of the remarkable time in 70s popular music, between Glam and Punk, when it looked as if Pub Rock might have some
large scale commercial success. The names that spill from the pages are legendary - Ian Dury, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Dr Feelgood, Jake Riviera, Stiff
Records, Kokomo, Graham Parker. The Band get a mention too. Will is a bit modest in the lack of space he devotes to the Kursaals but the rest more
fascinating than I hoped. He has researched thoroughly at the British Library and even Companies House for the commercial scams that went on in the
background. He has interviewed the survivors. He takes us to the venues - The Hope & Anchor at Islington, The Nashville at West Kensington. He takes us
on tour with the Feelgoods, Chilli Will and The Red Hot Peppers and Kursaals in 1975 and with the later Stiff package.
With the arrival of The Sex Pistols and The Damned etc.
Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By tardis65 on 4 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
Growing up in the States, I never knew that this music scene existed. Merseybeat? Sure! 80's New Wave? You bet! But I never knew about Pub Rock. Will Birch's writing made me feel like I was there, not only transported in time but in place, and it made me realise, even more than ever, that I was born in the wrong decade and the wrong country. A wonderfully insightful and entertaining book!
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