Arguably more respected as a producer than a solo performer, former Rockpile member Dave Edmunds’ Midas touch helped launch the careers of the Flamin’ Groovies, Nick Lowe, the Stray Cats, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and k.d. lang. At the outset of his career in the early 1970s, Edmunds set himself against the roaring currents of Prog Rock effusiveness and laconic Punk bile, choosing instead to re-travel routes forged by performers like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.
With exacting precision, Edmunds revived the clean melodic lines and pure pop sensibilities of early rock ‘n’ roll standards. Ironically, his one hit song — “I Hear You Knockin'” — is almost entirely unrepresentative of the remainder of his output. Enduring solo performer, collaborator with Graham Parker and Nick Lowe, and highly esteemed producer, musical factotum Dave Edmunds has remained over the course of his long career a tireless advocate of the oldie-but-goodie sounds of the ’50s and early ’60s.
– Chad D.
Alive & Pickin’
Recorded LIVE at St. David’s Hall in Cardiff, Dave proves that he can certainly make it happen all by himself in concert. Hear the master of the strings play through some pretty unobvious tunes as well as some of his hits. The crowd is really into this performance and Dave responds in kind.
Returning to the one-man band approach of his early records, Dave Edmunds crafted a fine comeback with Plugged In. Though his method is similar in execution to Subtle As a Flying Mallet, the impact is different, primarily because he has stripped away much of his Spector-ian pop influences and sticks to a menu of ready-made roots-rockers.
Alternating between covers and originals, the song selection is solid, even if only a handful of songs stand out. Among the highlights is an exciting version of Jerry Reed’s instrumental “The Claw,” a sweet cover of Al Anderson’s “Better Word for Love,” and the sunny pop of “Beach Boy Blood (In My Veins)”, written by Michael Lanning of ‘It’s Only Roy’ (one of our artists). While the studied, solitary performance on Plugged In can be a little stiff, it’s songs like these that make the album his best record in years.
– by Stephen Thomas Erlewine – AllMusic.com
1972 – Rockpile – Mamou
1974 – Stardust [Soundtrack 1 Side] – Ronco
1975 – Subtle As a Flying Mallet – One Way
1977 – Get It – Swan Song
1978 – Tracks on Wax 4 – Swan Song
1979 – Repeat When Necessary – Swan Song
1981 – Twangin’ – Swan Song
1982 – D.E. 7th – Columbia
1983 – Information – Columbia
1984 – Riff Raff – Columbia
1987 – Dave Edmunds Band Live: I Hear You Rockin’ – Columbia
1987 – I Hear You Rockin’ the Hits Live – Columbia
1990 – Closer to the Flame – Capitol
1993 – I Hear You Rockin’ – Arista
1994 – Plugged In – Forward/Rhino
1999 – Handpicked Musical Fantasies
2000 – Live – Castle
2001 – A Pile of Rock: Live – Sanctuary
2003 – Sabre Dance – Promised Land
2004 – C’mon Everybody [live] – Disky
About Dave Edmunds
Forming his ideas about the way albums should sound in the same 60s England that helped create the Rolling Stones and The Animals, Dave Edmunds turned out an impressive number of hit singles before hitting high on the charts with his updated version of the New Orleans classic “I Hear You Knockin’” in 1970. With the first incarnation of his band Rockpile, Dave toured the world while continuing to hone his skills as a producer (1972’s self-titled Foghat album) as well as dabbling for the first time in soundtrack work (David Essex’s “Stardust”). Signing with Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song record label in the mid-70’s, Edmunds began his association with bass player/songwriter Nick Lowe with whom he would record and tour for several highly successful years as Rockpile (with guitarist Billy Bremner and drummer Terry Williams).
Rockpile disbanded in 1981, but not before churning out a series of hits (including “Crawling From the Wreckage” and “Queen of Hearts”) and many sold out tours. Through the 80s, Edmunds continued his recording and touring career while producing albums for other artists (The Everly Brothers, Mason Ruffner). It was at this time that Edmunds also began his long association with the former Beatles, working in Paul McCartney’s band for “Give My Regards to Broad Street”, recording with George Harrison and later appearing as a member of Ringo’s All Starr Band. Edmunds also collaborated with Electric Light Orchestra mastermind Jeff Lynne on his “Information” and “Riff Raff” albums.
It was in the 80s that Dave Edmunds began acting as a band leader and music director for such esteemed projects as the “Carl Perkins & Friends: Blue Suede Shoes” TV special (featuring Eric Clapton, Harrison and others) and the “Guitar Greats” concert which featured David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers), Johnny Winter, Link Wray, Brian Setzer, Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) and Steve Cropper (Booker T. and the MGs). In late 1989, Dave served as musical director for the “Legends of Rock and Roll” in Rome featuring many of his heroes such as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, B.B. King, James Brown, Bo Diddley and Ray Charles. In the 90s, Dave worked as musical director on the “Lennon Tribute” concerts in Liverpool and Tokyo as well as serving once again in Ringo’s All Starr Band 2000.
Currently Dave’s passion is a return to his roots, so to speak. Early influences such as Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed, have been the focus of Dave’s current studio work and live performances. This inspiration was initially triggered by his friendship with Australian guitarist extraordinaire, Tommy Emmanuel.
A diverse range of material, mixed with Dave’s classic hits and stunning guitar work, creates a dynamic show that brings audiences to their feet. Dave is thrilling his old fans and winning new ones with every performance.
Read further: Jake Holmes
More about Mr. Edmunds
Roots-rockers are seldom as purist as Dave Edmunds. Throughout his career, he stayed true to ’50s and ’60s rock & roll — for Edmunds, rock & roll history stopped somewhere in 1963, after the Beach Boys’ first singles but before the Beatles’ hits. After establishing himself as a hotshot lead guitarist in the blues-rockers Love Sculpture, he launched his solo career by painstakingly re-creating oldies in his own studio, usually recording every track by himself. Through all of his efforts, he learned how to uncannily replicate the sound of Sun, Chess, and Phil Spector records, which not only helped him garner several U.K. hits in the early ’70s, but also led to successful production work with artists like the Flamin’ Groovies and Brinsley Schwarz. In the late ’70s, he hit the peak of his career when he teamed up with former Schwarz bassist Nick Lowe to form Rockpile. For several years, Edmunds recorded albums with Rockpile and toured relentlessly with the band, which resulted in a string of hit U.K. singles. After the group imploded in the early ’80s, he slowly disappeared from the mainstream, even as he made his most commercial music with producer Jeff Lynne; Edmunds eventually retreated to cult status in the ’90s.
Dave Edmunds never abandoned the music he discovered as a teenager in Cardiff, Wales. He learned to play guitar by playing with the Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley records, picking out leads by James Burton, Chet Atkins and Scotty Moore. He was also fascinated by Phil Spector’s records, as well as American blues and country. Edmunds began playing in various British blues bands in the early ’60s, eventually forming Love Sculpture with bassist John Williams and drummer Bob Jones, who was later replaced by Terry Williams. Love Sculpture’s gimmick was playing bluesy, psychedelicized version of classical songs, and their interpretation of Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance became a British Top Five hit in 1968. Within a year, the group rode out their success and broke up.
Edmunds returned to his home in Wales and constructed the eight-track studio Rockfield in Monmouthshire, where he holed up and taught himself how to meticulously re-create the sounds of his favorite records. Many of these recordings were made entirely by Edmunds, usually with Williams assisting on bass. One of the first records released from the Rockfield sessions was actually one of the least indicative of his style, since it interpreted the source material instead of replicating it. Featuring his vocal piped in through a telephone line, Edmunds’ revamped version of Smiley Lewis’ “I Hear You Knockin'” became a fluke hit, reaching the Top Ten in both America and England, and he quickly followed it with the Rockpile LP, a collection of straightforward oldies covers that became a modest success. Over the next few years, he recorded the material that became his second album, Subtle As a Flying Mallet, as well as producing records by similar-minded rockers like Ducks Deluxe, the Flamin’ Groovies and Brinsley Schwarz.
During 1974, Edmunds made a brief appearance in the film Stardust and helped assemble the soundtrack. Also that year, he produced the Brinsley’s last record, New Favourites. During the recording, he struck up a friendship with bassist Nick Lowe, who over the next few years became his key collaborator. Lowe helped Edmunds move away from covers and into performing new songs, largely written by Lowe, that re-created the spirit of old rock & roll. Following the 1975 release of Subtle As a Flying Mallet — it produced two Top Ten U.K. hits with “Baby I Love You” and “Born to Be With You” — Edmunds began to rely on Lowe’s original material and sought out newer songs in the same vein, as well as more obscure oldies. In return, Lowe joined Edmunds’ touring band Rockpile, which also featured drummer Terry Williams and guitarist Billy Bremner. The first record the pair worked on heavily together was 1977’s Get It, which also was Edmunds’ first record for Led Zeppelin’s label, Swan Song.
Get It was well received, as was 1978’s Tracks on Wax 4, the first album Edmunds recorded with Rockpile as his backing band. By that point, Rockpile was touring constantly, earning terrific reviews in the U.K. press, who grouped the band in with the burgeoning new wave movement largely because of their drunken, reckless energy. In 1979, the band entered the studio to simultaneously cut Edmunds’ Repeat When Necessary and Lowe’s Labour of Lust, and the sessions were captured on the BBC documentary Born Fighter. Both records were hits, with Repeat When Necessary generating the major British hit “Girls Talk,” as well as the Top 20 “Queen of Hearts,” which Juice Newton later replicated for her breakthrough success. Rockpile entered the studio in 1980 to record the group’s first full-fledged album, Seconds of Pleasure. During the recording, tensions between Edmunds and Lowe began to surface, resulting in an album that failed to capture the band’s live sound. Seconds of Pleasure was a moderate success, but the group disbanded following its supporting tour.
Twangin’, Edmunds’ first post-Rockpile album, appeared in 1981 and featured contributions from Williams and Bremner. The album was a minor hit, generating a hit cover of John Fogerty’s “Almost Saturday Night.” Edmunds signed with Columbia the following year, releasing D.E. 7th, another moderately successful record. With 1983’s Information, Edmunds began working with producer Jeff Lynne, a former member of Electric Light Orchestra. Not surprisingly for a prog rock veteran, Lynne brought Edmunds a more measured sound, encouraging him to work with synthesizers and drum machines. While greeted with mixed reviews, Information was successful in the U.S., resulting in the hit “Slipping Away.” The pair followed the same formula for 1984’s Riff Raff, which was an unqualified bomb.
During the early ’80s, Edmunds had produced records for rockabilly revivalists the Stray Cats, and in 1984, he produced the Everly Brothers’ comeback record, EB 84. As his solo career stalled in the wake of Riff Raff, Edmunds concentrated on production, working on several acclaimed records, including k.d. lang’s debut Angel With a Lariat and the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ breakthrough Tuff Enuff. He returned to his own career in 1987 with the live I Hear You Rockin’, which went ignored. Three years later, he released Closer to the Flame, his first studio record in six years, to mixed reviews. That same year, he reunited with Nick Lowe to produce Lowe’s Party of One. Rhino Records released the double-disc compilation Anthology in 1993, and the following year, Edmunds returned with Plugged In, his first set of one-man-band material since Subtle As a Flying Mallet. Plugged In was received with good reviews, and Edmunds supported the album with his first tour in several years.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic.com
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