Featured Album – Seconds of Pleasure – Rockpile

[Seconds of Pleasure] was bright, propulsive, and poppy, filled with big melodic hooks and polished until it glistened. . . Time has been nothing but kind to this record and, judged on its own merits, it’s one of hell of a good time. At its core, it is an invigorating blend of the strengths of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds.  –    Allmusic.

I’m pretty sure the first time I ever heard the name Dave Edmunds was when he released a song from his 1970 album Rockpile called I Hear You Knockin’.” The song was written by Dave Bartholomew a (believe it!) 98-year-old R&B musician from New Orleans. In 1970, the song was a real anachronism sounding more like the Fifties song it was. But it was a hit.

The first time I ever heard of Nick Lowe was in 1977 when he produced Elvis Costello’s debut album and then again in 1978 when he released his own LP, The Jesus of Cool. (They called it Pure Pop for Now People in the US as I guess that was, what – sacrilegious?)

What Lowe and Edmunds had in common was a good ear for the infectious tune and especially in Edmunds, a ’50’s rockabilly guy. So naturally, it would make perfect sense for these guys to record together.

How this musical marriage came about is that Edmunds, also a producer, was overseeing an album by a band called Brinsley Schwarz which included founding member and bassist/vocalist Nick Lowe. (Brinsley released the first version of Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.)” Brinsley Schwarz also later toured as Edmunds’ backing band but petered out by 1975.

I won’t go into all the minutiae of who recorded with whom and on what album in the late ’70’s. Lowe recorded a solo album with Edmunds helping, Edmunds recorded solo stuff with Lowe helping, etc. Let’s just say it was a loose conglomeration that was on-again, off-again.

But to the album in question, in 1980 the guys got together with the fairly unknown singer/guitarist Billy Bremner and drummer Terry Williams, who was to join Dire Straits a few years later. And the album became a mixture of old style rockabilly, new wavish stuff and power pop. It is the missing link.

Seconds of Pleasure was released in October 1980. None of the guys was really a household name so it didn’t get a lot of buzz. And while it did ok, reaching #27 on the Billboard charts, it didn’t make a big splash.

But yours truly dug it, especially the rockabilly shit. It was introduced to me by the bassist in a band I was playing in at the time. He wanted us to do some of this stuff but for some reason we never did. Probably because we had an obscure enough repertoire as it was.

One of my favorite songs on my iPod when I work out is “Heart.” This is a straight-up ’50’s song with a nice mid-tune key modulation and a chord progression straight out of “The Bristol Stomp.” (My Indispensable 150 series, Part III.) Think Brian Setzer was listening to Edmunds’ pitch-perfect guitar solo?

Spotify link

Now I’ll cheat a little bit here and pull up a bonus track that is not on the original album but is on the inevitable reissue CD. But you know, fuck it. It’s such a great song. It’s “Crawling from the Wreckage,” written by Graham Parker.

Crawlin’ from the wreckage, crawlin’ from the wreckage
Bits of me are scattered in the trees and in the hedges
Crawlin’ from the wreckage, crawlin’ from the wreckage
Into a brand new car

Spotify link

The Lowe influence comes in strong here on the song “When I Write the Book.” (Let us not forget E. Costello later wrote “Everyday I Write the Book.” ) This song is a whole different feel from the rockabilly/rock stuff but it fits right in:

Spotify link

Now, this next song was written by a guy I confess I never heard of named Kip Anderson. Apparently, he was an American R&B singer who managed to stay under the radar. I guess old Kip felt his lady was eating too much and advised her that you “let a knife and fork dig your grave.” Ouch. That must have really endeared him to her. Love the cheesy little organ part in there.

Spotify link

Seconds of Pleasure was the only album released under the Rockpile name. I’m thinking there was some legality involved. But for whatever reason, pretty much the same band went on to record two Edmunds solo albums (Tracks on Wax 4 and Repeat When Necessary) and one Lowe solo album (Labour of Lust). The latter includes Cruel To Be Kind.”

So you kinda know Rockpile even if you think you don’t. A lost classic.

17 thoughts on “Featured Album – Seconds of Pleasure – Rockpile

  1. I used to see this one a lot in the record stores, but never bought it. I love Edmunds’ “Girls Talk,” a fantastic song. As well as Nick Lowe (“Cruel to Be Kind”), Elvis Costello, Graham Parker… I’m not a big rockabilly fan, but I love good “power-pop,” and these Brits certainly had it. One of the bright spots of late ’70s and early ’80s rock music. Good review, Jim.

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  2. Thanks, yeah it seems to have somewhat slipped through the cracks. It may have been reviewed by other bloggers but if so I don’t recall. And the thing is that it’s not just rockabilly or power pop but also straight-up Fifties. An odd combination that shouldn’t work but does. “Girls Talk.” Great song. “There are some things you can’t cover up with lipstick and powder.” And of course, EC popularized “Peace, Love, and Understanding.” One supposes Lowe didn’t mind the lack of notoriety on it as he cashed the royalty check.

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  3. Not a bad cut on the record. Edmunds and Lowe can do no wrong. Graham Parker and the Rumor, and these guys made some great music and still do. CB is a big fan and will eventually get to all these guys on his musical journey. Some of his favorite records. I didn’t include Edmund’s version of Bruce’s ‘From Small Things” on the “Bruce’s Friends take”. Dave Edmundzized it. This album is a stone cold case for “Why” weren’t these guys more popular? Real good work Doc, on a band and musicians who’s work needs to heard. Take a bow.

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    1. Truthfully I never even heard these guys on the radio. A little earlier or a little later they might have hit. Maybe, for the stations, a case of “how do we program these guys? ” Have you ever done a piece on Graham Parker, CB? You should. They’re on my radar but with all I got, probably not this year. The world deserves to know more about those dudes.

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      1. All on my to do list Doc (Doing the chronological thing). I seen all these bands back then. Big shift in CB’s listening at the time. Back to more basic rock n roll. They were all tried and true bar bands that earned their chops. Some great shows. I think BS even said Parker was one of the best live shows going. As far as “the world deserves to know”. Yup!

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  4. Hmm. Not really my thing, I’m afraid. However, just so you know, neither the YouTube video for A Knife and a Fork nor the Spotify track work over here. There is a version by Kip Anderson himself, though, at https://open.spotify.com/track/3zyQcsT5KeJxhV2alvemaF

    Aside: I used to publish a fanzine called Knife and Fork back in the late seventies. It ran postal games of Diplomacy, the best board game ever invented. Tricky to get 7 or 8 friends around for a whole weekend to play it, though, hence the postal variety.

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    1. Sorry to hear this is not your cup of tea. The rockabilly/new wave/oldies thing not for everyone I guess. As to that song not playing, boy that’s odd. How many versions does a man have to post before they will finally play? (See what I did there?) And I have a friend who’s playing postal (more or less) chess.

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