Trick of the Tale: Pub rock, punk, genre and myth in London and Glasgow in the 1970s


This paper argues that the conflation of two strands of constructed authenticities, those around the British pub as social space and those around both pub rock and punk rock the mid 1970s as “stripped-back” forms of rock, is both supported by and supports canonical narratives of cause and effect in popular music histories, and that it seeks to exclude genres and ideologies that don’t fit the argument that those narratives make.

In this presentation I consider the ways in which these narratives emerged in London in the mid-1970s and very quickly became canonical history.  I go on to discuss the ways in which these narratives were embraced and challenged in Glasgow local live music scenes in the late 1970s and very early 1980s, where audiences seeking “back-to-basics” live music experiences were often drawn from genres not considered “stripped-back” in any conventional musicological sense – and in particular around the emergence of the neo-progressive rock movement in Scotland, led by Aberdeen band Pallas.


J. Mark Percival is Senior Lecturer in Media at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.  His 2008 doctoral thesis at the University of Stirling, Making Music Radio, focused on the social dynamics of the relationship between record industry pluggers and music radio programmers in the UK.  He has written about Scottish indie music production, popular music and identity, mediation of popular music and is currently working on speed and meaning in music, and music in superhero comics.  Mark presented music shows for BBC Radio Scotland from 1988 to 2000, and was a Mercury Music Prize judging committee member in 1998 and 1999.

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