Sunday, 20 September 2015

"Original Album Series" by DAVE EDMUNDS [including LOVE SCULPTURE] (2015 Parlophone/Warners/Swan Song 5CD Mini Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Here Comes The Weekend..."

It feels like I've been waiting for this mini box set peach-a-rooney for years. There's something about Dave Edmunds Rock 'n' Roll fixation throughout the whole of the Seventies that I've always loved. He rocked and his records were fun listens too. But what's perhaps forgotten is that his LPs mixed in his 50ts and 60ts obsessions with the New Wave songwriting genius of Rockpile's Nick Lowe and Billy Bremner - not to mention the acidic tongues of Elvis Costello and Graham Parker. The result is albums - that although retro in feel - are also contemporary. 

Oddly though - availability has always been an issue. Outside of Rhino's superb 1993 2CD "Anthology" career-overview – Remasters of his primo full-album catalogue have remained off the general CD availability radar until now. Well – here at last – is a salty 5CD set to sort my DE needs right out – and it’s a humdinger too. Here are the 'Twangin' details...

UK released September 2015 – "Original Album Series" by DAVE EDMUNDS (including LOVE SCULPTURE) on Parlophone/Warners/Swan Song 0081227952006 (Barcode same number) is a 5CD Mini Box Set and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (41:03 minutes):
1. In The Land Of The Few [Dave Edmunds, Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker song]
2. Seagull [Paul Korda cover]
3. Nobody’s Talking [Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker song]
4. Why (How-Now) [Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker song]
5. Farandole (L’Arlesienne) [George Bizet, classical cover]
6. You Can’t Catch Me [Chuck Berry cover] - [Side 2]
7. People, People [Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker song]
8. Sabre Dance [Aram Khatchaturian cover, Russian composer]
Tracks 1 to 8 are the 2nd studio album "Forms And Feelings" by LOVE SCULPTURE (featuring Dave Edmunds) – released February 1970 in the UK on Parlophone PCS 7090 and in the USA on London/Parrot PAS 71035.

The second and last LOVE SCULPTURE album "Forms And Feelings" is the EMI Remaster that came out in a natty card digipak in 1999 – minus any bonus material. I say this because fans will know that "Forms And Feelings" was originally released in Britain as an 8-track LP - but American 9-track copies on Parrot Records had an extra song – a two-minute cover of "Mars" by Holst slipped inbetween "People, People" and "Sabre Dance" on Side 2. Unfortunately this CD reissue sticks to the strict British LP configuration. Also there were as many as 6 x 7" single MONO mixes and Edits around the LP in the UK on Parlophone Records ("Sabre Dance" and "Farandole" were edited for 45 – that kind of thing). If you want to get the lot (including the missing "Mars" track) – buy the superb Esoteric Recordings Expanded CD from 2008 (Esoteric Recordings are a part of Cherry Red of the UK – Catalogue Number ECCLEC 2016). It's a Ben Wiseman Remaster from original first generation master tapes and can be found on Amazon at Barcode 5013929711624 (just cut and paste that number and it will give you the right issue).

Disc 2 (31:44 minutes):
1. Get Out Of Denver [Bob Seger cover]
2. I Knew The Bride [Nick Lowe cover]
3. Back To School Days [Graham Parker cover]
4. Here Comes The Weekend [Dave Edmunds & Nick Lowe song]
5. Worn Out Suits, Brand New Pockets [Dave Edmunds song]
6. Where Or When [1937 Rodgers & Hart song – Roy Heatherton & Mitzi Green cover]
7. Ju Ju Man [Jim Ford cover] – [Side 2]
8. Git It [Bob Kelly song – Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps cover]
9. Let's Talk About Us [Otis Blackwell song – Jerry Lee Lewis cover]
10. Hey Good Lookin' [Hank Williams cover]
11. What Did I Do Last Night? [Nick Lowe song]
12. Little Darlin' [Dave Edmunds & Nick Lowe song]
13. My Baby Left Me [Arthur Crudup song – Elvis Presley cover]
Tracks 1 to 13 are the album "Get It" – released April 1977 in the UK on Swan Song SSK 59404 and in the USA on Swan Song SS 8418.

Disc 3 (34:11 minutes):
1. Trouble Boy [Billy Bremner song]
2. Never Been In Love [Nick Lowe & Rockpile song]
3. Not A Woman, Not A Child [Billy Bremner song]
4. Television [Nick Lowe song]
5. What Looks Best On You [Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe song]
6. Readers Wives [Noel Brown song]
7. Deborah [Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe song] - [Side 2]
8. Thread Your Needle [Brenda Lee Jones and Welton Young song – Dean and Jean cover]
9. A.I. On The Jukebox [Dave Edmunds/William Birch (of The Kursaal Flyers)]
10. It's My Own Business [Chuck Berry cover]
11. Heart Of The City [Nick Lowe song]
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Trax On Wax 4" – released April 1978 in the UK on Swan Song SSK 59407 and in the USA on Swan Song SS 8505

Disc 4 (34:40 minutes):
1. Girls Talk [Elvis Costello song]
2. Crawling From The Wreckage [Graham Parker song]
3. The Creature From The Black Lagoon [Billy Bremner song]
4. Sweet Little Lisa [Donovan and Martin Cowart and Hank DeVito song]
5. Dynamite [Mort Garson. Tom Glazer song - Brenda Lee cover]
6. Queen Of Hearts [Hank DeVito cover] – [Side 2]
7. Home In My Hand [Ronnie self cover]
8. Goodbye Mr. Good Guy [Billy Murray and Pat Meagre song]
9. Take Me For A Little While [Trade Martin cover]
10. We Were Both Wrong [Billy Bremner song]
11. Bad Is Bad [Huey Lewis & The News cover – feature Huey on Harmonica]
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Repeat When Necessary" – released June 1979 in the UK on Swan Song SSK 59409 and July 1979 in the USA on Swan Song SS 8507

Disc 5 (30:25 minutes):
1. Something Happens [John Hiatt cover]
2. It's Been So Long [Ian Gomm cover]
3. Singin' The Blues [Melvin Endsley song – Guy Mitchell cover]
4. (I'm Gonna Start) Living Again If It Kills Me [Carlene Carter, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds song]
5. Almost Saturday Night [John Fogerty cover]
6. Cheap Talk, Patter And Jive [Donovan Cowart and Hank DeVito song – features The Chesterfield Kings on Harmonica] – [Side 2]
7. Three Time Loser [Don Covay and Ronald Miller song – Wilson Pickett cover]
8. You'll Never Get Me Up (In One Of Those) [Mickey Jupp cover]
9. I'm Only Human [Nick Lowe and Rockpile song]
10. The Race Is On [Don Rollins cover – George Jones cover - features The Stray Cats]
11. Baby Let's Play House [Arthur Gunter song – Elvis Presley cover]
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Twangin..." – released April 1981 UK 7” single on Swan Song SSK 59411 and May 1981 in the USA on Swan Song SS 16304

Everyone knows the visual story with these "Original Album Series" Mini 5CD Box sets – five single card sleeves with the original artwork front and rear – look nice but you can’t read the details. At least the CDs themselves have the track credits on each. It doesn’t say who remastered the four Swan Song albums or indeed if they’ve been even been redone (the Love Sculpture CD is the 1999 EMI Remaster) – I doubt it. The sound is great but there's no doubt in my mind that the Rhino Remasters of 1993 on the "Anthology" 2CD set are infinitely better. Having said that - as the bulk of these albums are late 70ts and early 80s recordings – the audio was on the money anyway – so for most casual listeners these CDs will sound just dandy.

Although I'm a huge DE fan – I’ve always had a hard time with Love Sculpture who seemed to spend way too much of their time pissing about with dodgy cover versions. Paul Korda’s soppy "Seagull" is awful, classical composer Bizet's "Farandole" from the Opera "L'Arlesienne" is ok, Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" is oddly unexciting (especially given Edmunds knack with Rock 'n' Roll) and the eleven minute "Sabre Dance" has awesome guitar work for sure but overstays its welcome past four minutes. The best tracks on the record are written by Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker – the hard rocking "Nobody's Talking" and the James Gang-ish contemplative feel to "Why (How-Now)" - both of which sound fabulous on this remaster. "People, People" too sounds so hippy 1967 and could be The Association or The Monkees (it's a pretty tune).

Typical of Edmunds – he seemed to always know what song suited him and how to re-arrange it into his own updated DE style. For example - a genius choice on 1978's "Tracks On Wax 4" is an ultra-obscure B-side on Rust Records of the USA called "Thread Your Needle". It was put out by Dean and Jean in 1966 as the flipside to "You're The Love Of My Life" and penned by Brenda Lee Jones and Welton Young – both of whom authored "The Majestic" for Dion in 1961. It's the kind of Eddie Cochran-ish guitar rocker that just comes in – does the business – and leaves – no muss - no fuss. It's followed by the hugely likeable "A.I. On The Jukebox" which feels like old-time Fifties Rock 'n' Roll but is actually a modern 1978 co-write between Dave Edmunds and William Birch of The Kursaal Flyers. It was issued as a UK A-side 45 on Swan Song SSK 19417 in February 1979 with the fab rocker "It's My Own Business" as its flipside – but despite the strength of both tracks – it tanked (yet you’ll find yourself replaying these little nuggets over and over again). His instincts to record Nick Lowe's brilliant and incendiary "Heart Of The City" 'live' pays off (no venue or date provided) because it gives the tune that Punky punch it warrants. In fact I can’t help thinking that "Tracks On Wax 4" is the forgotten nugget in his long cannon of enjoyable albums.

Next up and two huge faves among fans – "Repeat When Necessary" and "Twangin..." – both of which provided him with much-needed hit singles and chart exposure. Elvis Costello's brilliant "Girls Talk" was the first single off the "Repeat" album coupled with "Bad Is Bad" in June 1979 on Swan SSK 19419 – it did the chart business by climbing to 4 (the B-side is a Huey Lewis & The News cover version which features the great American Rocker guesting on Harmonica). That was followed by the other obvious winner on the album "Queen Of Hearts" – a fabulous Eddie Cochran type Acoustic Rocker that virtually screamed repeat radio play. It was penned by Henry DeVito of The Hot Band and became a hit again for Juice Newton on Capitol Records in 1981. But I love its Rockpile-sounding B-side "The Creature From The Black Lagoon" – a typically hooky tune from the witty pen of Billy Bremner who would later play with Rockpile and even guest for The Pretenders (the single landed a respectable No. 11 position on the UK charts). Graham Parker's wickedly acidic "Crawling From The Wreckage" was then coupled with the non-LP "As Lovers Do" on SSK 19240 which hit the lower end of the singles chart (59) in November 1979 (the album had run its course). Other favourites of mine are his electrifying cover of Brenda Lee’s “Dynamite” and the Phil Spector sounding 60ts melodrama of "Take Me For A Little While" originally written by teen-idol Trade Martin who put it out as a US 45 on RCA Victor in 1967. Albert Lee plays guest guitar on "Sweet Little Lisa".

After the brilliance of 1980’s ROCKPILE reunion album "Seconds Of Pleasure" on F-Beat Records (with Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams) in 1980 - "Twangin..." was a welcome sight in 1981. Again you get that killer mix of the new – John Hiatt's New Wave yet Funky "Something Happens" and Billy Bremner's witty anti-airplane song "You'll Never Get Me Up (In One Of Those)" – sitting alongside familiar 50ts rhythms of "Singin' The Blues" (Guy Mitchell) and John Fogerty's wicked "Almost Saturday Night". Album nuggets include his superb cover of Wilson Pickett's "Three Time Loser" (written by Don Covay) which Edmunds somehow turns into a Rock 'n' Roll song and the double-trouble Rockabilly pairing of "The Race Is On" (with The Stray Cats) and the Sun Records echo-laden Presley homage of "Baby Let's Play House". Way to go baby...

I suppose you could argue that if this mini box had the fab "Seconds Of Pleasure" album by Rockpile from 1980 – then retro perfection would have been achieved. As it is – this is a great listen and a top-notch addition to an increasingly cool CD series...

PS: see also my reviews for Brinsley Schwarz, Terry Reid, Jimmy Webb and The Groundhogs in the "Original Album Series"...and Dave Edmund's solo albums - "Rockpile" (1972) and "Subtle As A Flying Mallet" (1975) both on expanded CDs...

This review and hundreds like it are available in my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. 
Check them out by clicking this Amazon link...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc