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Brinsley Schwarz: Live Favourites

Some 40 years on and the pub rockers’ sole live album still sounds timeless.

Brinsley Schwarz were one of the leading lights of the mid-70s pub rock scene, wherein the pre-punk DIY ethic of playing in a pub with no frills held sway.

No slouches as musicians, Brinsley Schwarz (named after their guitarist) contained future Stiff Records alumni Nick Lowe and Ian Gomm, as well as, in this incarnation, Pick Withers of Dire Straits on drums. Recorded in 1974 just after the release of their final studio album New Favourites Of Brinsley Schwarz, this is the band’s first live album, surprising for an outfit known for their vibrant shows. Perhaps it’s not a prog offering by our normal definition, but this does however illustrate a time when musical boundaries were more fluid than now, with the music here being impossible to pin down. Too melodic for punk, too restrained for metal, too aggressive for pop, and with hints of soul and country, it is nonetheless an excellent performance, with the clear standout being a stellar rendition of Lowe’s classic Peace, Love And Understanding, later immortalised by the really-not-prog-at-all Elvis Costello. If you simply want an hour’s worth of great songs played by a tight and well honed band, give this timeless record a try.