“Do Anything You Want To Do” / Eddie & the Hot Rods
I know, I know, you guys thought I’d end pub rock week with the Brinsleys – but there’s so much more to pub rock, I haven’t even scratched the surface. (What, no Ducks Deluxe? No Kilburn & the High Roads? No Fabulous Poodles?) And I really can’t check out without paying tribute to Eddie & the Hot Rods, a band I think of as the missing link between pub rock and punk.
Take a dose of Dr. Feelgood’s visceral energy and throw in the hard-hitting crunch of mid-60s American rockers like the Stooges and the MC5, and then play it at overdrive speed – that was the idea behind the Hot Rods (“Eddie” was actually their manager, Eddie Hollis, who wrote this song). They also were writing songs about adolescent hang-ups and attitudes, which spoke to the younger audiences moving into the old pub rock venues. And how could mellow country rockers play these stages after a band like Eddie & The Hot Rods (or their colleagues the 101ers, fronted by a pre-Clash Joe Strummer)?
“Do Anything You Wanna Do” is a very efficient bit of rock music, with a short intro and no down time whatsoever. We’re talking jangly power chords, fierce nonstop drumming (was Steve Nichols channeling Keith Moon or what?), and the urgent yelp of Barrie Master’s lead vocals. The lyrics are all about busting loose, too – an anti-authoritarian anthem as powerful as the Who’s “My Generation” was a decade earlier.
“Gonna break out of this city / Leave the people here behind” – anybody else reminded of the Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out of this Place”? It taps into a level of pre-Thatcher-era angst as well: “Tired of doing day jobs with no thanks for what I do” and my favorite couplet: “Don't need no politician tell me things I shouldn't be / Neither no optician tell me what I ought to see.” And okay, it’s a little paranoid – “No one tells you nothing / Even though you know they know” – but it’s all part of the syndrome.
That frustration a kid feels when it seems like the System is stacked against him – the chorus nails it perfectly: “Why don't you ask them what they expect from you / Why don't you tell them what you are gonna do / You'll get so lonely, maybe it's better that way / It ain't you only, you've got something to say.” Doesn’t that just make you want to punch the sky? .
Sure, it’s a classic sentiment, but every kid who goes through this feels like the only rebel in the world. And then you turn on the radio and hear a song like this and it’s like those musicians read your mind.
Pub rock had pretty much run its course by the time “Do Anything You Want To Do” hit the Top Ten in 1977. By this time, I guess Eddie & the Hot Rods had lost a little of their rawness -- like any ambitious band might when it starts to get radio play -- and with a wave of hungry punk bands coming up behind them, that lost rawness made the Hot Rods irrelevant. The Sex Pistols—who’d once been the opening act for the Hot Rods--had already released “Anarchy in the