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No Sleep Till Canvey Island: The Great Pub Rock Revolution Paperback – 6 Feb 2003
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'An exhilarating anecdotal history' -- Q
'Illuminating ... what sustains the book is Will Birch's extraordinary attention to detail' -- Mojo
'Interesting ... knowledgeable ... 8/10' -- Loaded
It began with an outrageous press trip to New York to launch unknown rock band Brinsley Schwarz, which went disastrously wrong, and it went on to launch the careers of Ian Dury, Elvis Costello and Joe Strummer. The pub rock scene of the early 1970s was one of the most eventful and important in British music history. Guided by maverick operators such as Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson, who later founded the legendary label Stiff Records, this beery, bluesy scene gave rise to such electrifying acts as Kilburn and the High Roads, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Dr Feelgood and Elvis Costello and the Attractions - and led directly and organically to the cultural explosion that was punk. Featuring a wealth of anecdotes from Costello, Dury, Nick Lowe and all of the defiantly anti-showbiz scene's major names, this book offers an account of a crucial seven-year period in British rock history.See all Product description
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Describing a variety of musicians and bands who achieved varying degrees of success in the 70s and 80s, this is a well-written and entertaining read. In particular, the account of the Brinsley Schwarz hype, which describes the triumph (and otherwise) of optimism and and ambition over numerous setbacks, deserves to be made into a film. Will Birch, himself a musician, composer and producer of the times, would do well to turn it into a script and would no doubt find several production companies willing to take it on.
First class writing and truly entertaining.
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.?
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
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. in 1976, Pub Rock was almost all over,. Coincidentally, that year The Band played and filmed "The last
waltz". For a while, it was the end of an era for them and their friends too. Ian Dury, Elvis Costello and a few survivors went on to greater things, but Pub Rock
all but disappeared in "major" venues.
"No sleep..." is a most enjoyable and interesting read and I thoroughly recommend it for your Christmas stocking...
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