Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Dancing The Night Away"

Pub rock.
C'mon, you know. Dr Feelgood. Eddie & the Hot Rods. Brinsley Schwartz. Ducks Deluxe. Kursaal Flyers.
No? You don't? Then you can't be just the wrong side of 50 years of age, then. And from north London.
If ever a musical genre belonged to a particular place and time, it was pub rock. A scruffy rebellion against the (somewhat) cheesy low-rent camp of glam rock, and not quite marginal enough for those who became punks. We're probably talking about a two-year phenomenon from 1973 to 1975, before Malcolm MacLaren found a way to splice the whole New Yorks Dolls/Suicide/Television strand with simplified pub rock, and a lead singer to sell it to the masses.
Punk historians (and there are a few of them) claim that punk was all about tearing down the self-important bloated carcasses of prog rock and disco, but really, that process was begun with bands like Dr Feelgood, who hooked themselves all the way back to the R&B era, and gave it a wax-job of 1970s depression. Lee Brilleaux, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds probably did more to puncture the egos of the likes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer than John Lydon ever did.
Listen to the track, possibly the finest piece of airbrushed pub rock there was. A gorgeous riff, a positively glam-rock chantalong chorus, and yete, and yet, you can't shake the impression that this was born in the back rooms at the Hope & Anchor one fuggy night in October.
While the Feelgoods and even Ian Dury were busy being forensically authentic (and I use that term with reverence) pub rockers, the Motors were all about being chart-friendly, casting one envious eye at the sort of teen adulation their forebears had enjoyed, rather than the cynical, faux-grudging acceptance that was about to become the hallmark of punk. And they clearly absorbed all the right lessons. This is a power pop classic, with just enough grit to keep it honest.
Such a good song, in fact, that Cheap Trick were driven to cover it. And if that's not a seal of approval I don't know what is.

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