John Blaney - Brinsley Schwarz: Happy Doing What We're Doing

by Jeff Penczak Rating: Release Date:

Brinsley Schwarz (the group) produced several solo artists (Nick Lowe, Ian Gomm) and members of Rockpile, Ducks Deluxe, Vanity Fare, and The Rumour. Blaney interviewed most of them (guess who declined) for his pub rock book, A Howlin’ Wind, itself an outgrowth of his Shindig! feature. Half of his new book finds him padding his chapters with reproductions of the entire quotes from which he derived his material. Re-reading the same quotes is boring, suggesting there really wasn’t a book left over from those pub rock interviews after all.

The other half is comprised of memorabilia (rare pics, sleeve reproductions, session recording sheets, gigs and discographies), and we do read about the formative years in Sounds 4+1, The Four Just Men, and Three’s A Crowd (whose early rehearsals at Schwarz’s Kippington Road home gave Kippington Lodge its name), the Fillmore fiasco, their Wings support slot, and their innovation that redefined how live music is presented on the telly.

Unfortunately, Blaney brushes by (without comment or explanation) various pseudonyms (Hitters, Limelight), and there is little insight on their Glastonbury appearance, the unreleased album that Gomm is selling, or their backup duties on Frankie Miller’s, Dave Edmunds’, and Ernie Graham’s albums.

There are many contemporary "Press, Reviews and Articles", which often give us more insight into the Brinsleys than Blaney. But these are often mysteriously identified as “author, date and source unknown”! Several comments are footnoted, but Blaney frustratingly omits a Footnotes section with his sources, some of whom are identified as “unknown band member”! The book really should have been subtitled “In Their Own Words”, as we rarely get any of Blaney’s, other than paraphrasing his subjects’ quotes.

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