Sunday, 12 June 2016

"Tracks On Wax 4" by DAVE EDMUNDS (Part Of 2015's 'Original Album Series' 5CD Mini Box Set on Parlophone/Warners) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Here Come The Trouble Boys..."

"Tracks On Wax 4" by DAVE EDMUNDS (1978 LP on Swan Song)

It feels like I've been waiting for this 5CD mini box set peach for years precisely because it contains many of my favourite Dave Edmunds albums – least not all is 1977's criminally forgotten "Get It" and our main concern here - the equally cool 1978 set "Tracks On Wax 4".

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 was albums - that although retro in feel and sound - were also somehow incredibly 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 out my DE needs – and it’s a humdinger too containing both "Get It", "Tracks On Wax 4" and much more. Here are the 'Worn Out Suits & Brand New Pockets'...

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 containing the "Tracks On Wax 4" album (Disc 3) that plays out as follows:

Disc 3 (34:11 minutes):
Side 1:
1. Trouble Boys [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]

Side 2:
7. Deborah [Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe song]
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 "Tracks On Wax 4" – released April 1978 in the UK on Swan Song SSK 59407 and in the USA on Swan Song SS 8505

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.

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.

That gem is 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.

Other winners include Billy Bremner's ode to laddishness "Trouble Boys" where our hero initially wimps out in front of his girl when confronted by some mouthy oiks but soon steps up to the protective plate. The slightly dangerous and sexually loaded theme continues with Noel Brown's raucous rocker where all our Dave wants to do is look at "Reader's Wives" in their varying magazine temptations. And his Everly Brothers sounding "What Looks Best On You" tells his lady that what looks best on her is 'Dave' (what a gent). All of it is rollicking great fun and so upbeat. In fact I can’t help thinking that 1978's "Tracks On Wax 4" is a forgotten nugget in Dave Edmunds' long cannon of enjoyable albums stretching all the way back to 1975's "Subtle As A Flying Mallet", 1972's "Rockpile" and the two Love Sculpture albums in 1970 and 1968 (see reviews for them all).

June 1979's "Repeat When Necessary" and April 1981's "Twangin'" would only cement his album reputation with fans – more wickedly good stuff from a master interpreter. A modern day Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Coochie Man indeed...

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