In this occasional series, Hassan Mahamdallie, a bored teenager growing up in 1970s south west London, delves into his box of punk and New Wave singles and takes us on a personal, musical, cultural and political journey.
Looking at one single at a time, Hassan recalls the band, the music and the cover art.
This time it’s Eddie and the Hot Rods’ Do Anything You Wanno Do.
The youth anthem of 1977 was Do Anything You Wanna Do, by Eddie and the Hot Rods. One of my best memories of that summer was going to see the band live at the Marquee club in Soho.
The Rods were one of those many bands that anticipated punk proper; part of the pub rock scene that included bands like The Feelgoods, Kilburn and the High Roads (Ian Dury), Roogalator (check out their single Cincinnati Fatback), Motorhead, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Brinsley Schwarz (Nick Lowe) singers such as Wreckless Eric, Dave Edmunds and a load more.
The pub rock bands were the seedbed for punk. Punk didn’t really come out of nowhere. Not only did the London pub circuit that the bands established provide venues for the proto-punk bands such as the 101ers (Joe Strummer’s first band) their back-to-basics, rhythm n’ blues temperament foreshadowed the punk attitude. And once the punky/reggae party got going, the pub rockers were (mostly) happy to join in.
Geezers from Canvey Island were over-represented on the pub rock circuit. The reclaimed marshland on the Thames Estuary in Essex, dominated by oil refineries -hence the nickname Oil City – is still literally the end of the road for those for whatever reason, flee London town.
As well as the Feelgoods’ stable of musicians, you had the Kursaal Flyers from nearby Southend (of hit single Little Does She Know), and the demon harmonic player Lew Lewis (whose Caravan Man is a utter classic). And Eddie and the Hot Rods.
The Rods had already had a residency at the Marquee in 1976, out of which came a sizzling EP Live At The Marquee, with its great live rendition of Van Morrison’s Gloria that slid into the Stones Satisfaction. One of their support bands in 1976 had been the Sex Pistols, apparently ending with the Pistols trashing the Hot Rod’s gear – which sounds par for the course.
Do Anything You Wanna Do, one of those perfect pop songs, was released on Island Records as a 12”. It was a cracking single, belted out by lead singer Barrie Masters, permanently up and down the stage on his toes, who would start his gigs wearing his trademark white denim jacket, soon discarded as the heat began to rise.
And did it rise. I saw The Rods on their return to the Marquee Club in August 1977 (a few days after the NF were smashed at The Battle of Lewisham). Good times.
It was my first visit to the dingy Wardour Street venue. The Marquee was little more than a shop front, through which you entered, and via a corridor into the venue proper – a very dark, very basic and very hot cavern. It had a long history, going back to when it opened in Oxford Street in the late 1950s. It relocated to Soho in 1964, and had hosted every rock legend, from Jimi Hendrix to The Who and Genesis. In the late seventies it became one of the go-to punk/new wave venues. It was a licensed club, so you had to buy a membership card at the booth before you shelled out for your ticket for the night.
To this bookish 16 year old South London boy, Soho was a very strange, slightly dangerous and exciting place to walk through. You have to remember that in the late 1970s Soho was still ridding itself of its gangster reputation. In fact in 1977 there was a major trial of police officers in the Obscene Publications Squad, all of whom had been in the pocket of The Syndicate who ran the red light district.
Do Anything You Wanna Do was in the charts at the time, and the Marquee was rammed for their triumphant return. The week before the Boomtown Rats had played one night, but The Rods were booked for five straight. Their set was white working class r’n’b, with some really classic pop singles thrown in. I cannot remember the supporting acts, but The Rods were superb. Somehow I managed to get myself wedged at the front, next to the speakers, and so managed to get crushed and deafened. I passed out at one point.
I must have looked a right state later on, staggering out into the Soho lights, swaying down Wardour Street, through Piccadilly with people sitting round the statue of Eros, one my way across Waterloo Bridge to catch the last train home.
Do Anything You Wanna Do still rings in my ears – the ’77 anthem for all the bored, angst-ridden, pissed off teenagers who were attracted to punk.
I’m gonna break out of the city
Leave the people here behind
Searching for adventure
It’s the kind of life to find
Tired of doing day jobs
With no thanks for what I do
I know I must be someone
Now I’m gonna find out who
Why don’t you ask them what they expect from you?
Why don’t you tell them what you’re gonna do
You get so lonely, maybe it’s better that way
It ain’t you only, you got something to say
Do anything you wanna do
Do anything you wanna do
I don’t need no politicians to tell me things I shouldn’t be
Neither no opticians to tell me what I oughta see
No-one tells you nothing even when you know they know
They tell you what you should be
They don’t like to see you grow
Next: Sham 69 at the Kingston Baths.