View Full Version : The Rockpile Appreciation Thread

05-09-2007, 08:14 AM
OK, here's a band you never hear discussed, in this forum or anywhere else, but who are (IMNSHO) one of the finest, and most overlooked, bands of the 70s: ROCKPILE. They're a band that I had barely even thought of for about twenty years, but finding Dave Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary at the used record shop a few years ago has led me back to rediscovering as much of their catalog as I can find.

Contractual obligations prevented them from recording under the name "Rockpile" until 1980's superb Seconds of Pleasure, but they also appear on most (all?) of Nick Lowe's and Dave Edmunds's solo albums from that period. I've got Edmunds's Get It and the aforementioned Repeat When Necessary, along with Nick Lowe's sadly out-of-print classic Labour of Lust, and they've all been getting heavy air-time at my house lately. Check your local used record store and you can probably find them on vinyl for a buck or two each, and you won't be disappointed.

Everyone knows "Cruel to be Kind" (from Labour of Lust), and a few of you may remember their minor hit "Teacher Teacher" (from Seconds of Pleasure) but I was really surprised by how many other great songs I re-discovered when I started digging into these albums:

"Heart": a piano riff stolen from "One Fine Day" leads into one of the most uplifting love songs ever recorded.

"When I Write the Book": Another perfect pop song (not to be confused with Elvis Costello's similarly-titled hit).

"American Squirm"
"Switchboard Susan": Nick Lowe expresses his libido.

"Cracking Up"
"Without Love": The flip side of love, but no less poppy.

"Girls Talk": Edmunds' brilliant arrangment makes this the definitive version of this Elvis Costello semi-obscurity.

"Queen of Hearts": Juice Newton had a big hit a few years later which pretty much lifted Edmunds' arrangement wholesale (the song itself was written by country sideman Hank DeVito).

"Crawling from the Wreckage"
"Back to Schooldays": Great rockabilly versions of a pair of Graham Parker songs.

"I Knew the Bride": If there were any justice in the world, this cheeky Nick Lowe number would be as popular at weddings as "Brick House" and "We are Family".

What a lineup. And that's not even getting into Edmunds' more bluesy covers like "Get Out of Denver" and "My Baby Left Me".

It's hard to say exactly what's so amazing about Rockpile, but for me, it's something to do with the combination of power pop with rockabilly and other early rock & roll styles (e.g. Everly Brothers-style close harmony). Years before "roots rock" became a buzzword, these guys were the embodiment of it, but combined with Nick Lowe's perfect pop songs (and Dave Edmunds' perfectly tasteful picking), their music never became mere monochromatic re-creation. If you have any love for roots rock, elegant (not flashy) guitar picking or pure pop music, you owe it to yourself to check these guys out.

Anyone else a fan?

05-09-2007, 08:25 AM
I'll write more later, but I have to say that Seconds of Pleasure has given me decades of joy.

One of my very favorite albums.

Jonathan Bogart
05-09-2007, 09:05 AM
I love love love love love Nick Lowe. One of the great unappreciated rock & roll songwriters, probably the greatest producer of the punk era, and a fantastic performer.

I can't get very enthusiastic about Dave Edmunds. Too much of a retro act for my taste.

I have Seconds of Pleasure, but almost never listen to it; that early-80s production seems to draw the tooth of their rock & roll. I nearly always prefer to listen to the actual roots than to "roots-rock."

Rob on the Job
05-09-2007, 10:41 AM
Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds were a perfect combo.

Nice to see Rockpile getting love even after all this time.

FMI: http://rant58.tripod.com/id280.htm

05-09-2007, 03:02 PM
i'm with Bogie on nick lowe.
that live on a battlefield song is one of the best catchy as hell songs about love without getting too sappy ever.
i like dave edmunds too though.
i dig retro. any group of people where john hiatt and bill kirchen randomly show up is a good group of people.

05-09-2007, 09:44 PM
You had me at "Switchboard Susan".

05-09-2007, 09:51 PM
You had me at "Switchboard Susan".gotta give props to a song with the lines:

"When I'm with you I get an extension
And I don't mean Alexander Graham Bell's invention"

Yeah, love Rockpile, and Lowe and Edmunds solo. Labour of Lust is indeed a gem. I thought Edmunds did a great cover of Elvis Costello's Girl Talk. The rest of that album, I forget the name of it now, was real good too, with some great guitar work from Albert Lee, I think the guy's name was. There's a good best of compilation of Lowe's stuff, but one of these days I'll probably try to seek out the individual albums.