Melody Maker, April 20, 1974

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Melody Maker


Brinsley Schwarz

Geoff Brown

Melody Maker band breakdown compiled by Geoff Brown

Brinsley Schwarz started in 1970 from the ashes of a pop group called Kippington Lodge, whose lineup had started with just Brinsley himself. Nick Lowe had joined in 1967-68; Bob Andrews and Billy Rankin joined later.

In 1969 Kippington Lodge became Brinsley Schwarz and took three months off for rehearsal. Their managers of the day — Dave Robinson and John Eichner — involved them in a venture called Fame-Pushers, set up a gig at New York's Fillmore East and took over 100 journalists to witness the event.

The experiment affected Brinsley Schwarz's outlook on the business and clarified for the group their personal reasons for making music. Nick Lowe described one effect it had on the band, which just about sums up their current attitude.

At the start of their career Brinsley had been on Top Of The Pops promoting their single, "Shining Brightly," a Crosby, Stills & Nash type song. Later, still well into country rock, they had another single out. It was called "Country Girl" and Tony Blackburn picked it as his record of the week. (It's been one of the few areas of common ground between Blackburn and John Peel).

Anyway, Top Of The Pops contacted Schwarz. Would they do another programme? Brinsleys said no — they'd vowed never to do that show again. They got, says Lowe, really righteous. "What a ghastly hit record to have been labelled with. Straw in our hair. Soon as summer was over we'd have been dead."

Since then they've changed their style often. Adding influences to the original, Ian Gomm joined on guitar in 1971 and widened the instrumental combinations they could use on stage.

Their set now ranges from Band-style to "Country Girl" to blues to Motown and to R & B — either an oldie played with a deep understanding of the mode or a group original which precisely captures the feeling and spirit of the influence.

Brinsley Schwarz play like a live disco. Meet the first — and last — of The Great Eclectics.

Bob Andrews

Bob Andrews has a serious, thoughtful face. Hair recedes like an ebbing tide. Talks with a strong hint of Northern accent and plays keyboards with Brinsley Schwarz with a strong hint nowadays of Garth Hudson.

Bob's been with the guys who formed the basis of the present Brinsley Schwarz for about six years. Before that he was playing with P. P. Arnold.

"It didn't last very long. I got it through a friend of mine. I was having, uh, emotional things at the time. I won't go into that." He smiles.

He, like Ian Gomm, saw an ad in the MM. Went along to an audition and joined the band. "That was Kippington Lodge. They were just issuing their last single. I just got in to be able to sing on the last single. We did a very Joe Cockerish version of 'In My Life,' John Lennon's number. That didn't do anything at all."

Bob started playing in groups when he was 14. Played bass guitar for a year back home in the Leeds area, then he played lead guitar for a year ("I thought I was Chuck Berry.")

Then when he started work some of the lads at the office he was in had a group. "They wanted an organist. I'd played piano when I was younger and so I suddenly fancied the idea of playing organ. Then because we were so together in the works we were forever talking about music, eventually it got intolerable. So we thought let's blow it."

They turned professional. Andrews leans forward against the table throughout the interview. Recollections well up inside him; he smiles at each remembrance. He speaks quickly, in bursts.

"We did one of those auditions 'Groups for continental work,' you know? We did this show with Al Read, a Christmas sort of thing for the Rhine Army. We did the backing. He used to do these sketches where he'd have musical introductions. Like he used to do a football sketch and we'd do the Sports Report theme." He sings it.

Bob stayed in Germany for about two years ("twelve hours a night and stuff") and then he returned to England and got the gig with P. P. Arnold, this was, of course, after her first band, The Nice, had left her to go it alone.

When he joined Kippington Lodge, Bob says the music was getting away from the singles thing ("like when I joined the organist I replaced went and joined Vanity Fare.") Bob, at the time, was leaning towards jazz "and I was also into, well heavy rock I suppose. I'd gone through all the Cream sort of syndrome.

"Then round about the end of 1969 we got the album Crosby, Stills & Nash and I think that was probably one of the biggest things that happened to us before Brinsley Schwarz. That was the sort of thing that changed our way of thinking."

They were, says Bob, getting so far into these new ideas that they were getting fewer and fewer gigs. "It ended up that we just weren't a viable proposition. We had a few fans in our local area (Tunbridge Wells) but you can gig your area only so much.

Remaining text and scanner-error corrections to come...

Nick Lowe

Brinsley Schwarz

Billy Rankin

Ian Gomm

Remaining text and scanner-error corrections to come...

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Melody Maker, April 20, 1974

Geoff Brown profiles Brinsley Schwarz.


1974-04-20 Melody Maker pages 40-41.jpg
Photos by Barrie Wentzell.

1974-04-20 Melody Maker cover.jpg


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