Brinsley Schwarz were a 70s-era English rock band, named after their guitarist Brinsley Schwarz, which played music merging a love of American-style country rock, soul, classic pop, and the like with more recent power pop and pub rock styles. Having a six year run with United Artists records, they began in most well-known form in 1969 after previously having some success as Kippington Lodge. Spawning the solo career of rock impresario Nick Lowe, the influential 70s U.K. band famously recorded the tune "(What's So Funny About) Peace Love & Understanding" in 1974. Several years after the band played the aforementioned tune, fan and former roadie Elvis Costello recorded it and thereby brought the song the acclaim it so deserved.
Brinsley Schwarz was popular in the U.K. and many European territories, touring Great Britian in 1972 as an opening act for Paul McCartney & Wings. The band also tried playing the UK's regional pub & hall circuit with artists Dave Edmunds, Atomic Rooster, Ducks DeLuxe, and the Grateful Dead, even headlining the first Glastonbury festival. In addition to Schwarz and Nick Lowe on bass & vocals, the band featured American Billy Rankin on drums, and Bob Andrews on Hammond B-3 organ, with additional guitarist Ian Gomm added in 1970.
Brinsley Schwarz signed a contract with manager Dave Robinson, who developed a plan to earn the group some wide scale publicity. They first played America on a fiasco laden press junket opening for Van Morrison at the Fillmore East in New York City in 1970 but were not well rested or well received. The group never toured the states again. Before breaking up in 1975, they released a total of 12 albums and 21 singles for United Artists. The band also notably were the first group to play live in 1973 on the BBC's 'Old Grey Whistle Test' programme and had a cameo in the film 'Stardust' with David Essex.
In 1970, Brinsley Schwarz released Despite It All, which had a definite country sound to it, and later added Ian Gomm to the band. Their wild performances soon garnered the band a large fanbase on the London pub rock scene, at venues such as 'The Tally Ho' in Kentish Town. Along with other bands like Eggs Over Easy, Brinsley Schwarz was soon dubbed "pub rock" by rock journalists. They sounded, at times, very much like The Band, with Schwarz's guitar work influenced greatly by Robbie Robertson's.
1972's ironic take on country rock, Nervous on the Road, received excellent reviews but did not reach the charts; neither did a series of singles or Please Don't Ever Change (1973). They continued recording for a time, but broke up in 1975.
Lowe and Gomm both began solo careers, achieving moderate mainstream success, including Lowe's (1980) single "Cruel to Be Kind", originally Brinsley Schwarz's composition, and Gomm's 1979 hit "Hold On."
Lowe went on to greater acclaim than any other member, starting off as Stiff's in house producer he recorded the debut discs of Elvis Costello, The Damned & The Pogues, recorded several albums with Rockpile and had some late 70s solo hit singles. Lowe married Johnny Cash's step daughter Carlene Carter Cash for a spell in the 80's, and later made a million from the inclusion of Curtis Stigers' cover version of "(What's So Funny About) Peace Love & Understanding" on the multi-platinum soundtrack to Whitney Houston's film "The Bodyguard".
Gomm, once described in a 1971 NME issue as "the best guitarist in Britain" attempted a solo career, and later became a Welsh studio owner & record producer who worked with The Stranglers and Alexis Korner.
The original version of Elvis Costello's hit "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," written by Lowe, was released by the band in 1974 on their album The New Favourites of Brinsley Schwarz and also featured on the multi million selling soundtrack of the movie The Bodyguard, where it was performed by Curtis Stigers.
Brinsley Schwarz Discography:
Brinsley Schwarz (April 1970)
Despite It All (December 1970)
Silver Pistol (October 1971)
Nervous on the Road (September 1972)
Please Don't Ever Change (October 1973)
The New Favourites of Brinsley Schwarz (July 1974)
The Last Album (June 1975)
Rarities (July 2000)
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