Pub Rock

Bees Make Honey – play Caldonia at the Nag’s Head – YouTube

The Nag’s Head in High Wycombe was a pub; upstairs it had a room where bands played. It was therefore a typical venue for the genre of popular music that came to be known as pub rock. It was also where I saw gigs by, among many others, Brinsley Schwarz and Kilburn & The High Roads. This was the early 1970s: pre-punk, although from the mid-1970s punk bands played the same pubs – I saw Ian Dury & The Blockheads and X-Ray Spex on almost consecutive nights at the Hope & Anchor in Islington.

But back in 1972 the beating heart of pub rock was the Tally-Ho in Kentish Town – just a short walk from my university hall of residence in Camden. That’s where I first encountered Bees Make Honey – to my mind the best of the pub bands for a joyous evening. The Bees could and did both rock and swing. At some point – possibly the winter of 1972-3, and certainly during a university vacation, when I was home from London, Bees Make Honey played the Nag’s Head. Someone filmed Caldonia for posterity, and it’s been posted to YouTube apparently by Mick Molloy, the band’s guitarist. The clip captures the beery, sweaty joy of a pub rock gig. Click on the link at the top of the page and be transported fifty years into the past.

And the thing is: I was there. Frustratingly I don’t appear in the video; but I was there. Two of the long-haired lunatics dancing at the front are my friends Steve and Andy.

 Everyone should see this YouTube video: it’s a unique piece of rock music history.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.