Launched in February 1977, STV’s Sneak Preview mixed live performances with interviews and discussions and was probably the nearest thing that television in Scotland ever got to Granada’s So It Goes, albeit there was never anything as notable as the first live TV appearance of The Sex Pistols.
Sneak Preview was shown late on Friday nights – and since this was the 1970s – by late we’re talking 11.05 to 12.05, when STV would shut down till the morning; hard maybe to imagine nowadays but then again, a blank screen would surely beat the rip-off interactive gaming shows that currently fill the post-midnight time slot across the ITV network.
Presented by Steve Jones (no, not that one) and Douglas Rae (who’d previously been part of the Magpie team and is nowadays a bigwig Film & TV producer), Sneak Preview during the early months of 1977 featured the likes of The Stranglers, Marianne Faithfull, Billy Connolly and, early in March, Eddie and the Hot Rods, who performed, if I remember correctly, both I Might Be Lying and Ignore Them (Always Crashing in the Same Bar) which would be the two sides of their just about to be released new single. Unfortunately no footage of their appearance exists but here are the lads a few weeks later doing I Might Be Lying on Top of the Pops:
Despite the exposure on TOTP, the single failed to make the breakthrough many had predicted but I’m sure if it had been flipped then they would have did more than just graze the edges of the British charts. See what you think, here’s the B-side:
The morning after Sneak Preview, the guys took part in an in-store meet and greet session at the new Bruce’s record shop in Glasgow’s Union Street and if you’re wondering about the ‘Opens With a Punk’ reference, the band had started using the phrase ‘Punk Rock Comes to Town’ in their own publicity material the previous year, when the term ‘Punk’ still possessed a number of connotations and was often used in connection with Eddie and The Hot Rods as shorthand for a resemblance to the sort of American ’60s garage bands gathered together a few years earlier by Lenny Kaye for the Nuggets compilation L.P.
The Hot Rods had also been part of the bill for the first Mont de Marsan Punk Festival which, confusingly enough, could more appropriately have been called a Pub Rock Festival, albeit the event was staged in a bullring in the south west of France rather than any smoky boozer in London or Southend.
They also found favour with many fledgling fanzines of the time, their frenetic singer Barrie Masters, for example, being chosen as the ‘cover star’ of Sniffin’ Glue #5 but any shreds of solidarity that might have existed between the Hot Rods and the undoubtedly punk Sex Pistols vanished after a bust-up during a gig at the Marquee early in 1976, when The Hot Rods accused their support act of wrecking their amps and monitors while Johnny Rotten counter-claimed the headliners had attempted to sabotage their set. The animosity lingered and the definition of punk narrowed.
Punk rock? Pub rock? New Wave?
Did classifications matter when the music was as exciting as Ignore Them?
Well, some critics have suggested that the inability to fit neatly into any particular pigeonhole cost the Hot Rods commercially – and if you’re wondering about the band themselves, they actually favoured the frankly cumbersome tag ‘high energy ’70s rock’n’roll’ to describe their music.
What is certain is that by the time they next returned to Glasgow, for a date at the Apollo early in June 1977, they’d recorded a new song inspired by Aleister Crowley’s (in)famous dictum: ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’ which would guarantee the guys at least one slice of surefire chart glory when released later that summer as Do Anything You Wanna Do, with the band credited simply as Rods, which to wrap things up – again if my memory serves me correctly – I bought as a 12″ single in the aforementioned Bruce’s.