Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rockpile "Live at Montreux 1980"

(Eagle Rock) (Guest Review by Gentleman John Battles) The short-lived supergroup Rockpile has two kinds of fans. Those who didn't see them live and those who did, and LOVE to bury it in our faces. Around '79-'80 , the group toured the states , often as support for the likes of The Kinks, Blondie and even (Dave Edmunds' labelmates) Bad Company. What's interesting to note is the band began life in 1976, fronted by Edmunds, Nick Lowe, and Billy "I coulda been a Pretendah" Bremner, but weren't allowed, by their respective record labels, to tour as Rockpile. Even when the shackles were broken they often performed as either "Dave Edmunds and Rockpile" or "Nick Lowe and Rockpile." The band still recorded together on Edmunds and Lowe's solo albums without using the name. Their lone LP release in 1980, while good, barely hints at what this band was capable of. An official live release was never available, until now but tapes I've heard , e.g. from The Park West in Chicago (A WXRT Radio broadcast, which I've never heard of them replaying as part of their popular concert series. I know Blues Traveler and Poi Dog Pondering are far more exciting, or could it be the highly combustible Ramones-paced set would alienate listeners today?), and a not quite as wild, but still rockin' on all four cylinders, New York show (with a guest appearance by Keith Richard on "Let it Rock"), only prove one thing. THE BRAGGARTS WEREN'T BRAGGING ENOUGH!! This set, like the others  is dominated by Dave and Nick's personal catalogue, with a few favorite cover songs (including "Let it Rock " and a frantic "Let's Talk About Us"), and only draws from their album "Seconds of Pleasure" on "Teacher , Teacher" (written by Eddie Phillips and The late Kenny Pickett, of Creation fame. In fact, this version is so cranked up really high it gives one an impression of what The Creation could have done with it, themselves). Tight, concise, but with plenty of Pub-Punk Rock agression, Rockpile "Got it" just like The Blasters "Git it." It was Roots music looking forward. Genius songwriting with no delusions of songwriting genius. OK, only two songs written by, and one co-written by Nick Lowe appear here, while Dave Edmunds only co-wrote one, but knowing a great song is a talent unto itself. "So It Goes," " I Knew The Bride," "Girls Talk,"  "They Called it Rock," "Crawling From The Wreckage," "Queen of Hearts" (later a hit for Juice Newton, followed by Peggy Hill), and the aforementioned "Teacher, Teacher" (which the liners inform us got to #51 on the US singles chart, though the only thing resembling a Rockpile jam that I ever heard on the radio was Robert Plant's live version of Elvis Presley's "Little Sister"  backed by Rockpile from The Concerts For The People of Campuchea (sic), which got a little play in 1980) all fit in comfortably with a strong reading of Edmunds' only major U.S. hit (unless that awful "Misinformation" actually charted. It was so bad, I guess it did.), the Smiley Lewis/Fats Domino classic "I Hear You Knockin'." Edmunds took to touring the states again after a buggering long hiatus. He was performing entirely acoustic renditions of his best loved work. I have heard that Rockfield Studios, in Wales, where he recorded and produced profusely in the 70s and 80s, has a volume control that actually surpasses "10." Instead of "11," it says "Dave Edmunds." That probably explains why, barring an electric "Sabre Dance," his last two U.S. tours were acoustic.  In this generation, when EVERYBODY is hitting the reunion trail, this is as close as you're going to get to seeing Rockpile live. Enjoy it. 

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