Not His Very Best But Very Good
jgself | Lubbock, Texas | 06/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A nice collection of Mid 70's to early 80's songs...probably his most prolific and best-selling period. This contains some great covers including Graham Parker's "Crawling From the Wreckage", Hank DeVito's "Queen of Hearts" ( I believe this version was the original and better than the hit version of Juice Newton's), and John Fogerty's "Almost Saturday Night". His originals are good too with his sterling and very distinctive guitar work. Not as thorough as the "Anthology" but pretty good. It's still a crime that his first American solo album with "I Hear You Knocking" on which he plays everthing has not been released on CD."
A.1. On the Juke Box...But Nowhere on the Charts
Peter Walenta | Long Island, New York USA | 05/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, so you want to know what all the fuss over this `new wave' was all about? In April 1978, as I was riding the bus to get to class across town on the new Amherst campus, I read an interesting and very long record review in the UB (University of Buffalo) student run newspaper, "The Spectrum". This wasn't the usual one paragraph capsule record review, since "the Spectrum"'s editors gave the writer a full page for the article. Apparently a fellow student had gone back home to Long Island for spring break and while there he/she got caught up in the excitement of four newly released albums that, when taken as a whole, looked and sounded like the British "new wave" had finally arrived on our beer can littered shores. The records raved about were, Elvis Costello's "This Year's Model", "New Boots and Panties" by Ian Dury, "Pure Pop for Now People" by Nick Lowe and "Stiffs Live" by well...Live Stiffs. So am I leading you on a wild goose chase by this recollection of some obscure article in a college newspaper and what does it have to do with, "The Best of Dave Edmunds"? Well, what the Spectrum article's writer valiantly tried and nearly succeeded in doing, was to accurately describe what the "new wave" was. No doubt, this genre was a slippery fish since "new wave" in its' delirious halcyon days in 1978, encompassed snot nosed punks, oafish louts, trouble boys and more than just a few lecherous young men who could play fast rhythm guitar licks that were welcome bursts of noise standing in sharp contrast to the mechanized disco and the flaccid soft rock that by and large ruled the radio airwaves. But, and this has been the source of continuous good natured (mostly) debate for these past 30 years, did `new wave' include the retro/roots rockers and pub rockers who were re-energizing pre-Beatles rock `n' roll, rockabilly, and rhythm and blues, or did these `purist' blokes constitute some other hybridized genre of rock music? My gut feeling is that Graham Parker, Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe were definitely part of the late 70's UK new wave, as they took the essence of 50's and 60's rock `n' roll (and soul) and shaped it into speeded up and much louder music for an (at that time) new generation of kids to dance to. At the time, new wave was hyped as the "salvation" from the dull late 70's rock scene but this was an over simplified assessment since there were really so many interesting things happening musically in the late 70's. Nonetheless, a lot of great rock and pop artists emerged from "new wave" and Dave Edmunds was one of the shining talents.
Welsh born Edmunds actually had started recording well before most of the new wavers, having cut his musical teeth in the 1960's blues art-rock band Love Sculpture. He also scored a fluke hit with the strange telephoned-in sounding remake of Smiley Lewis's 1955 song, "I Hear You Knocking" in early 1971. Edmunds then landed a record deal with Led Zeppelin's label Swan Song and in the midst of the "new wave" from 1977 to 1981, he released four of the fiercest retro roots rock albums ever recorded and from which 13 of the best songs are nicely compiled here on this one disc originally released in 1981. All of these songs are terrific. "The Best of" kicks off with the humorous tale of a honky tonk femme fatale named, "Deborah". Edmunds and the core of his band Rockpile use chiming Buddy Holly guitars to nice effect on this rocker. You also get the definitive straight ahead pub rock cover of Elvis Costello's biting tune, "Girls Talk" replete with Everly Brothers' style rhythm guitar fills. Next is a Chuck Berry cajun-style song story wherein the singer's recounts droll memories of a bride who used to be a party girl before she tied the knot. Two standout tracks are the hilarious and biting "A.1. on the Juke Box" and Dave's rollicking 1979 rendition of "Queen of Hearts" which is the very same song that Juice Newton would turn into a huge hit a couple of years later. "Almost Saturday Night" and "Singin' the Blues" are good songs but perhaps not essential. Graham Parker's "Crawling From the Wreckage" is here in all it's grisly glory. What would have made this record a 5 star `best of' would have been the addition of Edmunds' classic blues-rock radio hit, "I Hear You Knocking", and his fierce cover of Nick Lowe's "Heart of the City". Grateful Dead fans will get a kick out of hearing Edmunds' version of "The Race is On". After listening to this collection, one can see how Edmunds, who so meticulously recreated the sound of early rock `n' roll, was able to produce to good effect the retro-rockabilly cool struttin' Stray Cats...a band incidentally from Long Island. Does the story now come full circle!? So as for "The Best of Dave Edmunds" well, like the title of Dave Edmunds' first Swan Song album says, "Get It"...You'll be glad you did. 4 ½ stars."