Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dave Edmunds, Love Sculpture and Class...

Dave Edmunds is a huge talent who has made countless great records and been involved in many diverse projects since he first came to prominence with Love Sculpture in 1968. When I went to the gig (see below) in March 1969 they had just released their follow-up to Sabre Dance - which had made the Top 5 at the very end of 1968. Dave was born in Cardiff in April 1944 and his interest in music and the guitar led him to join his brothers skiffle group in the late fifties. By the mid 60’s South Wales had a flourishing music scene with bands like Amen Corner, The Eyes, The Corncrackers as well as Edmunds first band The Raiders. It was not long before Edmunds moved onto The Shevelles, and later, an R&B outfit, The Image. He then formed Human Beans with bass player John Williams and Tommy Riley on drums. The trio signed to Columbia and in July ’67 released a cover, of the Tim Rose/Bonnie Dobson song Morning Dew with Isaac Hayes & David Porter’s It’s A Wonder on the b-side.

By late ’67 Riley left to be replaced by Bob ‘Congo’ Jones and the group changed their name to Love Sculpture, switching to the Parlophone label. Their first release was River To Another Day in February ’68. It was not a hit, but impressive enough for DJ. John Peel to book them for a session on his Radio One show - ‘Top Gear’. In September they released Wang-Dang-Doodle and secured a regular gig at London’s Marquee Club. A blisteringly fast rendition of Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance played live on ‘Top Gear’ caused quite a stir, prompting it’s rush release, it went to No.5 in the chart.

Despite an equally rapid version of Bizet’s Farondole on the b-side of their next single Seagull and a ‘70 single In The Land Of The Few there were no more hit singles for the band. Their ‘68 debut LP ‘Blues Helping’ did not contain Sabre Dance, whereas the ’70 follow up ‘Forms & Feelings’ did, but it was all too late.

There was for a short while a mark II version of Love Sculpture, featuring Edmunds, Man drummer Terry Williams (later of Dire Straits) and guitarist Mickey Gee, but they split after a 6 week tour of the States. After which Edmunds became increasingly involved with Charles and Kingsley Ward’s Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales. He experimented with production techniques before Gordon Mills signed him as a solo artist. His version of Smiley Lewis’ I Hear You Knocking was released on Mill’s newly formed MAM label, the song had been a stateside hit for Gale Storm in ‘55 and Fats Domino in ‘61. Edmunds version went to No.4 in America and topped the charts in Britain. The follow-up I’m Coming Home charted in America in a more lowly position and failed to dent the charts in Britain. Further singles Blue Monday and Down Down Down also failed to chart, but early in ‘73 his version of The Ronettes Baby I Love You went to No.8 in the UK, by which time Edmunds was using the name Rockpile for his backing group. A re-working of the Chordettes ‘56 hit Born To Be With You gave him another hit in ’73. Edmunds expanded his horizons to not only appear in David Essex film ‘Stardust’ but also to be the films Musical Director.

After a spell in the States, Edmunds came back in ‘76 with The Rockpile Band comprising Terry Williams (drums), Nick Lowe (bass) and Billy Bremner (guitar). More hits followed in the late 70s and 80s including Girls Talk (‘79), Queen of Hearts (‘79), the brilliant Crawling From The Wreckage (‘79), and The Race is On (81,) which was billed as Dave Edmunds & The Stray Cats.

Among Edmunds production credits are Deke Leonard, Shakin’ Stevens, Ducks De Luxe, Del Shannon, The FlamminGroovies and Brinsley Schwarz, as well as working with country musicians Albert Lee, Rodney Crowell and Carlene Carter.

There's a new album due from Dave very soon and you can be guaranteed that it will be a classy set of songs and will not disappoint. Those of you that can't wait try to hunt down Dave's song, Beach Boy Blood in My Veins, it's one of the best Beach Boy tributes ever made.


Anonymous said...

Ah, Dave Edmunds! You sure know how to pick 'em, Richard.

Dave was touring this last spring with Joe Brown - they even played Llandudno but I couldn't make it sadly.

We did an album cover for Dave when I was at Hipgnosis. It had the most brilliant album title – 'SUBTLE AS A FLYING MALLET' and I remember doing the lettering to look as if it was done in baby pink embroidery! Well, you would with a title like that!

I used to see Dave a lot when I lived in LA. We would bump into each other at the Robin Hood English pub (!) in Burbank.

I'm still very fond of his Swansong Records album GET IT which includes 'Crawling From the Wreckage', 'Worn Out Suits (With Brand New Pockets)', 'I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock'n'Roll' and a wonderful multi-tracked version of 'Where Or When' based, I think, on Dion and the Belmonts 1961 version.

Yeah, I brake for Dave Edmunds!

Richard Evans said...

Richard, 'Anonymous' is me. I forgot to put my name in ...

Pip pip!

r morris said...

Okay, you two stumped me. I've never heard of Dave Edmunds. Well, at least till now.

Anonymous said...

Never heard of Dave Edmunds? - it'll be an age thing no doubt. I heard an interview with Chris Martin (Coldplay) the other day when the interviewer asked him if The Blue Nile had had any influence on him. Martin had never heard of 'em! To his credit he promised to go out and buy their output that day.
Nice blog Richard and thanks for linking to The Ben Lomond Free Press. I have reciprocated.

Anonymous said...

PS, a small point perhaps but note the spelling of "Lomond"

Richard Havers said...

bigrab not a small point at all, it would be a bit like make me hovers!

It's done!