Pop/Rock  •  Rock & Roll/Roots

Pub Rock

In some ways, the British phenomenon of Pub Rock in the early '70s wasn't much more than roots rock, since it basically consisted of bar bands that played rock & roll, country-rock, and the blues. But there were some crucial differences, particularly in approach. If pub rock is anything, it is loose and unpretentious -- these were guys that played music for the hell of it. The members of the major pub rock bands -- Brinsley Schwarz, Ducks Deluxe, Bees Make Honey, Ace, Dr. Feelgood -- came from a variety of musical backgrounds, including folk-rock, blues, country-rock, and traditional rock & roll. This kind of rootsy music stood in direct contrast to the glam rock, hard rock, and prog rock that dominated the British charts. Consequently, the groups had trouble finding places to play, and they had to create their own circuit by playing hidden-away pubs throughout England. In no time, the unconventional venues and their defiantly good-time, back-to-basics rock & roll became a rallying cry for pub rockers. None of the pub-rock bands became stars or had hits, but their do-it-yourself attitude and stripped-down sound -- as well as the creation of the pub-rock circuit itself -- paved the way for punk rock. Indeed, many pub rockers -- including Brinsley Schwarz's Nick Lowe, the 101ers' Joe Strummer, Flip City's Elvis Costello, Kilburn & the High Roads' Ian Dury and Graham Parker -- became important figures in punk and new wave just a few years after the pub-rock scene faded in the mid-'70s.