Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Dave Edmunds Anthology (1968-90)

Opening with “River to Another Day”, this collection shows that it will reflect a wide variety of Edmunds’ career. The song is quite psychedelic – reverbed vocals, backwards guitars, etc – and quite different from most anything else Dave ever did. It’s a cool song, but certainly not what you would expect from a Dave Edmunds record!

“The Stumble” is much more his style, though it was recorded for a album of “blues” that his record company decided was the current big thing, so they wanted his band, Love Sculpture, to do a blues LP! But, whether initially contrived or not, this sounds like vintage Edmunds – great guitar playing, great tone and a basic r’n’r backing.

Then comes the hit! Love Sculpture’s insane re-working of “Sabre Dance”, supposedly influenced by the Nice’s Keith Emerson and his takes on classical works. This is wild, high-energy r’n’r with Edmunds riffing like a madman and showing just what a fantastic guitar player he is! Amazing stuff!

Dave does a superb version of “Summertime”, as well – heavily reverbed vocals with nice harmonies and again, a terrific solo. This set really shows off what an under-rated guitarist this man is – he is up there with the best!

Love Sculpture tried to recreate the magic they had with “Sabre Dance” on “Farandole”, but unfortunately, it simply sounds like a so-so copy of their hit (though Dave claims that he likes it better). After this last hurrah, LS basically dissolved.

Dave’s first solo venture, a remake of “I Hear You Knocking”, done in a studio converted from a potato loft(!), became one of his biggest hits and a template for his sound for the rest of his career! Fifties-influenced r'n'r became his trademark from here on out.

“Down, Down, Down” is another fun rocker, and then we get a couple of Edmunds tunes from his “wall of sound” era, such as “Born To Be With You”. (He also did an amazing version of “Baby, I Love You”, that is not included in this compilation).

Rockpile was Dave’s “super-group” with Nick Lowe, Billy Bremmer (guitar) and drummer Terry Williams and is represented with a number of cuts. This band was truly terrific and I have the pleasure of seeing them in 1978/1979 and can attest to their power live! These cuts are some of the best work that any of these gentlemen did and it is a shame that the group didn’t last longer.

The band only released one album as “Rockpile” but the musicians backed up both Edmunds and Lowe on several records. All of the tunes are super-fun, upbeat r’n’r and you really can’t do any wrong with any of these – “Here Comes the Weekend”, “I Knew the Bride”, “Little Darlin’”, “Trouble Boys”, “Deborah” and “Never Been in Love”. I can’t pick a fave – they are all superb!

Disc 2 starts off with Elvis Costello’s “Girls Talk”, which became a #1 hit for Edmunds in England. Also showing off how well he could interpret other people’s tunes is a cover of Graham Parker’s “Crawling Through the Wreckage” – another live Rockpile fave.

This inventive interpretation is most evident in “Queen of Hearts”, written by Emmylou Harris’ steel player Hank DeVito. This was another smash in England but for some reason the record company would not release it in America and instead Juice Newton had a massive hit here with it, doing the Rockpile arrangement. Such is life!

Yet another cover is Joe Tex’s “If Sugar Was As Sweet As You”, which Rockpile does as a bouncy, fun, country-ish number. This is the band doing what it does best! “Almost Saturday Night” doesn’t vary too much from John Fogerty’s original, but has very nice harmonies and is another good-time tune.

This collection is jam-packed with great tunes! “(I’m Gonna Start) Living Again If It Kills Me” was co-written by Nick Lowe and Carlene Carter and is a tribute to the Everly Brothers wonderful style. Next up is “The Race is On”, which was recorded while Dave was producing the Stray Cats. This George Jones song is rockabilly-fueled country done in a single take at the end of a night!

“Me and the Boys” is a harder-rockin’ version of an NRBQ song and “Warmed Over Kisses” is pure bluegrass, with banjo and guitar-pickin’ – definitely a bit different from Edmunds standard country-influenced r’n’r.

Even more different is Dave’s mid-80’s work with Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra! The guitar still has Dave’s distinct tone, but the rest of the production is very 80’s (hence very dated now) with far too much synthesizer nonsense and bad drum sounds. Several tracks from this period are represented here, but they are unfortunately pretty forgettable, though there is a decent cover of the Four Tops’ “Something About You”.

“King of Love” is a return to form via an unsolicited tape that actually got to Edmunds, he liked it, he recorded it! Sounding a little bit like a Cajun, early-60’s call and answer, it’s another fun, rockin’ number! This collection closes with “Closer to the Flame”, a nice enough R’n’B influenced tune, but not stellar.

All in all though, this is a fantastic collection of songs by an incredibly talented guitarist and singer. If you’re already familiar with Dave Edmunds, then you know how good this all is! If you’re not, this is a great start! But, be sure to check out his full albums – especially those from the 70’s – for lots more great stuff!

Here's a good site on Dave Edmunds and here's some good videos


Blogger Dan E said...

I really think Edmunds is one of the most underrated rockers of all time. He also played what was hands down the LOUDEST show I've ever seen, back in the mid-90s at the LA House of Blues; seriously, I've seen Slayer, Motorhead and the Who, and none of them blew my hair back like Dave.

Several years afterwards, when I was interviewing Lemmy (who's also a huge Edmunds fan), I mentioned that Edmunds had been louder than Motorhead when I saw him. "Louder than Motorhead?" he asked, genuinely surprised, then mulled it over for a minute. "Well, Dave does like his top-end," he laughed.

7:35 AM  

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