Thursday, April 29, 2021


Way the world's going, what we need and what we need now is some head's down, no nonsense, mindless boogie. (No, not that one.) After a disastrous start, UK has begun to vaccinate itself to a state of current easing, but large parts of the rest of the world are daily scuttling ever more perilously to the edge of wipe-out. How to, what to, why to? None of this I know any more, but, in the avoidance of the harsh and bleak, new variants willing, grant me a couple of minutes of escapism. 

Brinsley Schwarz were and are a staple of my listening pleasure. Actually the name of one of the guitarists, the name became that of the band, bastions of the burgeoning UK pub-rock scene, that pre-punk escape from the scourge of prog pomp posturing, embracing flavours of country, blues and soul into short punchy songs. Nick Lowe was the most lauded member, going on, via Rockpile, to build himself a healthy solo career that runs to this day. (Not all healthy: down on his luck in the early 90's, the chance pick up of one of his songs for Hollywood blockbuster, The Bodyguard, was said to have led a cheque, for a seven figure sum, dropping into his postbox. Which must have been nice.) Other members later found their way into Graham Parker's Rumour. BS, the band, were as famous, at the time, for a disastrous promo exercise, going disastrously wrong, whereby they were flown to the Fillmore East, NYC, for a showcase gig in front of a throng of top music biz journos. Late on arrival, unpractised and under-rehearsed, with pick-up kit, it was a fiasco, with them laughed out of town and pocket. Astonishingly, rather than throwing in the towel, they picked themselves up and built themselves a strong grassroots following, back from the bottom, producing a run of well received records. This is typical of their style, a bucolic mix of keyboards and choogling rhythm. But, never enough a concern to make their fortunes, and they folded their four year career in 1974. The song comes from their 1973 album, 'Please Don't Ever Change', and was written by Lowe.

Ironically, shortly before they split, one of their final gainfully was to back Welsh retro-rocker Dave Edmunds on tour. Edmunds and Lowe hit it off and the next step was the formation of Rockpile. Initially, again, Edmunds' group but they gradually became co-pilots, the band then backing each other on each of their then solo output recordings, and then a specific Rockpile as a band album release, 'Seconds of Pleasure'. The band, a four piece, with later 2nd generation Pretender Billy Bremner on additional guitar and vocals, and later Dire Straiter Terry Williams on drums. I really expected huge things for them, but the honeymoon bubble burst, and they split, their legacy hidden as much in those solo albums, and that of Lowe's then wife, Carlene Carter. (Yup, that one, Johnny Cash's step-daughter!) Their version of the featured song eschews some of the melodic swagger for an altogether more muscular take, guitars to the fore and no piano. But no less pleasurable. (And, special credit clearly must here go to the video, one of several made by Garren Lazar, all featuring the Peanuts Gang giving their best to a whole host of songs, culled from all genres and all decades.

But the song was not dead, and it took Nashville country-rockers BR549 to kick some yee-haw sawdust in the face of the song, adding some fiddle and altogether western swing flavours that give yet more zest than the versions before. From their 3rd 2001 album, 'This is BR549', this has them perched between a traditional country take and some of the more populist hat act territory of the time. This song bestrides that fence perfectly.

That's it, no message, no preaching. That is beyond, if and when in doubt, Play That Fast Thing One More Time!!

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