John Blaney Soundcheck Books

Upon its release in 2000, Will Birch’s No Sleep Till Canvey Island appeared to be the first and last word on the UK pub-rock scene of the early ’70s. But with A Howlin’ Wind, Shindig! contributor John Blaney has managed to create an excellent read that complement’s Birch’s work, covering much of the same ground but from a different perspective.

While Birch drew upon modern day interviews with a host of old mates from the pub rock era that included everyone from Nick Lowe to Hope & Anchor publican Fred Grainger, Blaney utilises artist quotes taken from vintage music magazines of the day to convey the excitement and motives behind pub rock. Blaney did interview a few pub rock luminaries, including Brinsley Schwarz manager/Stiff Records founder Dave Robinson, Ian Gomm and The Rumour’s Martin Belmont, which he blends with the vintage quotes to good effect. Where No Sleep Till Canvey Island has a distinct melancholy derived from his interviewees looking back on lost chances and lost friends from decades long past, Blaney’s account is a decidedly more upbeat read. Subtitled “Pub Rock And The Birth Of New Wave”, A Howlin’ Wind – as advertised – goes beyond pub rock via detailed accounts of Stiff Records and Rockpile. However, with only minor references to punk and other key bands and labels of the new wave era, it doesn’t quite succeed in chronicling the birth of new wave, which surely is a book in itself.

Stefan Granados