Gradually more musical venues became available and more bands appeared to fill them so buy the middle of the decade there was a thriving scene in north London at least. The importance of this scene was almost certainly blown out of all proportion by the face that it was on the doorstep of most of the music journalists who naturally ‘liked a pint’, remember though that this was the time when music papers really did rule. If the NME thought pub rock was important then it was.
Sartorially it was a return to basics, the musicians usually taking the stage in the clothes they arrived in, there was n ‘honesty’ at work, no gloss, no dressing up. Musically it was genre based music, old style R&B being most popular (Feelgoods, Ducks Deluxe, Eddie and the Hot Rods) followed by country rock (The Kursaal Flyers,Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers) and soul/funk (Kokomo, Clancy).The only band to make any impression on the chart’s, Ace, combined all three.
Not much of the music has really survived the test of time but this clip of Ducks Deluxe gives a flavour of the sweaty ambience.Its been a while since I’ve seen this and at first I though someone had done something terrible to the vocals but no, it really does sound like that.
The legacy for punk was far more influential though. Firstly by the time punk was ready there were a range of venues available for them to play and, indeed, a range of rough arsed more musical bands for them to support. Secondly, although Pub Rock was a relatively young man’s game, the average musician would be in their late 20’s, most of them would be just too old to be credible for punk. However the mixture of relative youth and experience meant there was a pool of managers, promoters, record label entrepreneurs, record producers and mover and shakers in waiting, an infrastructure was beginning to form.
Take the case of Nick Lowe, bass player and song writer for Brinsley Schwarz. After his band was badly burned in an American publicity stunt which backfired they retreated to the pubs in an attempt to become a British version of The Band.Clearly this was doomed from the start but he then went on to be producer for various new acts not least of which was The Dammed while Stiff records was basically esablished with a loan form Dr Feelgood.
In general pub rock had opened up an attitude of active involvement again, you formed a band, got some gigs where you had to entertain people then tried to get a record out by whatever means necessary. So by 1976 a new energy was happening in some of the pubs, the Feelgoods had been and gone but Eddie and the Hotrods, the Stranglers, even the Sex Pistols and, of course, Joe Strummer’s first band The 101ers were starting to make their mark.
Over the next year punk rock would pretty much kill off the old pub rockers but without them punk may never have happened.