Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe share a relationship that is unique in rock 'n' roll: Both men lead the same band. The group is known on tour as Lowe's Rockpile (both of which include guitarist Billy Bremner and ex-Man drummer Terry Williams), depending on whose album is currently available. Rockpile also has the distinction of being the only band contracted to both major American disc conglomerates. Edmunds records for WEA while Lowe is an employe of CBS. Lowe has described Rockpile as "a nice bunch of chaps." Musically, their relentless, pile-driving attack makes them as aptly-monikered an aggregation as Meatloaf.
As evinced by his 1978 "Pure Pop for Now People," a mad, stylistically incisive excursion down several paths of AM territory, Nick Lowe is the craftsman of the group. His songs are rife with hooks and catchy choruses, the product of gleaning every major 45 over the last 10 years. Lowe never neglects his roots, casting nods here to The Who ("Skin Deep") and there to Herman's Hermits ("You Make Me"). His sense of humor, best described as bent, results in singalong hilarities like "Bay City Rollers, We Love You" and "I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass." Some critics have accused Lowe of being too clever for his own good while overlooking the fact that Rockpile philosophy, as expounded by Edmunds, is "Fun, definitely."
Lowe's new "Labour Of Lust" LP (Columbia JC 36087) is solid "angry" rock (Costello/Parker/Jackson) parody, right down to the cover takeoff on Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life." It is 100 percent danceable, occasionally vulgar and the party record of the season. True to its title, it runs the thematic gamut from sadomasochism ("Cruel To Be Kind") to groupies ("American Squirm," which does not feature Rockpile but rather Mr. D.P. Costello and the Attractions) "Crackin' Up" is the best of the three singles included, a skillful blend of the chorus of the Seeds' "pushin' Too Hard" and Credence Clearwater's "Run Through The Jungle" "Dose Of You" is the last work on the love-as-infection metaphor that the Coasters initiated with "Poison Ivy," and "Love So Fine" is a wickedly funny machoboast that would do Bad Company proud.
The true delight of the album is "Switchboard Susan," a crisp rocker that sports a Deep Purplish vocal, a short 'n' sweet solo from Edmunds and the "You bring a smile to marked uneveness (it was recorded over a period of several years with different backing bands), "Labour Of Lust" bomps along quite smoothly from start to finish, making for an LP that is eminently flippable.
Dave Edmunds is a wild rockabilly fanatic whose previous albums (the magnificent "Get It" and the transitional, slightly less-magnificent "Tracks On Wax 4") paid homage to Elvis and Eddie Chochran while sounding like no less than the Everly Brothers on methedrine. Edmunds is one of the best self-taught producers around, and his sound is characterized by layers of background ooooohs and ahhhhhs and acoustic guitars. Edmunds' current release, "Repeat When Necessary" (Swan Song SS 8507) is a bright and melodic toetapper that is virtually on a level with "Get It." Unfortunately, it has no original songs, although Edmunds is known to have penned a lovely tune or two in his spare time ("Little Darlin'," "Never Been In Love").
Happily enough, "Repeat When Necessary" has several outstanding tracks, including an unreleased Elvis Costello tune ("Girls Talk," currently in the British charts) and Graham Packer's tough "Crawling From The Wreckage." "Black Lagoon" is a love song of sorts about the B-movie creature, a natural AM hit.
Rockpile has enough spirit for half of the slots in the Top 10; they are not a pcak of bored superstars who are overweight and fresh out of ideas. They could achieve in America the success that their music entitles them to, a success that Edmunds had a taste of in 1971 with "I Hear You Knocking." And both new Rockpile LPs have at least four terrific tracks each -- a rarity in these days of the $8.98 list.