[Review] Dave Edmunds: Repeat When Necessary (1979)

This is more or less a Rockpile record featuring tunes from Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and Hughie Lewis.

Kronomyth 5.0: Repeat defender.

The idea of a Dave Edmunds album without a single song written by the man himself might seem a slight, but Repeat When Necessary is no cop out. Edmunds is essentially a cover artist (a point the album title and cover make plain) who puts his emphasis on quality rather than originality. He is a gifted guitarist and producer, and an unabashed admirer of rockabilly who can take a 20-year-old song by Ronnie Self (“Home In My Hand”) or a new song by Billy Bremner (“We Were Both Wrong”) and make them both belong in the same moment musically.

The album is notable among new wave aficionados for the opening trio of tracks: Elvis Costello’s “Girls Talk,” Graham Parker’s “Crawling From The Wreckage” and Bremner’s “The Creature From The Black Lagoon,” the latter sounding like a an early, lost Squeeze song. Also included here are the first recorded versions of “Queen of Hearts” (later popularized by Juice Newton) and Hughie (Huey) Lewis’ “Bad Is Bad.” Featuring the rest of Rockpile (Bremner, Nick Lowe, Terry Williams), Repeat When Necessary sticks to rockabilly for the rest of the way, including a rollicking version of “Sweet Little Lisa” featuring the sensational Albert Lee on guitar.

Throughout the record, Edmunds alters his voice to match the material and applies the same painstaking production; the Spector-ish “Take Me For A Little While” is a highlight. Like Get It before it, Repeat When Necessary is a very necessary addition to any Edmunds collection (and a fitting companion to Lowe’s Labour of Lust, released a day later). It’s hard to believe that some enterprising label hasn’t released a remastered version of this record yet. (Note: Initially, I had a lukewarm reaction to this record, but I must have been in a rockabilious mood that day.)

Original elpee version

A1. Girls Talk (Elvis Costello) (3:25)
A2. Crawling From The Wreckage (Graham Parker) (2:53)
A3. The Creature From The Black Lagoon (Billy Murray) (3:42)
A4. Sweet Little Lisa (Hank DeVito/Donivan Cowart/Martin Cowart) (3:38)
A5. Dynamite (Mort Garson/Tom Glazer) (2:33)
B1. Queen of Hearts (Hank DeVito) (3:17)
B2. Home In My Hand (Ronnie Self) (3:20)
B3. Goodbye Mr. Good Guy (Billy Murray/Pat Meager) (2:40)
B4. Take Me For A Little While (Trade Martin) (2:39)
B5. We Were Both Wrong (Billy Murray) (2:42)
B6. Bad Is Bad (Hughie Lewis) (3:11)

The Players

Dave Edmunds (vocals, guitar, piano), Billy Bremner (guitars), Nick Lowe (bass), Terry Williams (drums) with Roger Bechirian (piano on track 1), Albert Lee (guitar on track 4) and Hughie Lewis (harmonica on track 11). Produced by Dave Edmunds; engineered and co-operated by Roger Bechirian.

Did You Know?

  • Billy Murray is a pseudonym for Billy Bremner.
  • “Dynamite” was first recorded by Brenda Lee (songwriter Mort Garson is incorrectly credited as “Carson” on Edmunds’ album).
  • Juice Newton had a #2 hit with her version of “Queen of Hearts” in 1981.
  • Dusty Springfield also recorded a version of Trade Martin’s “Take Me For A Little While” for her 1967 album, Where Am I Going.

The Pictures

Photo by Lyn Goldsmith. Graphics by Edward Barker.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on June 8, 1979 in the UK (Swan Song, SSK-59409/SK 459409), the US (Swan Song, SS/CS/TP-8507), Brazil (Swan Song, 30125), Canada (Swan Song, QSS/CS 8507), Germany (Swan Song, SS-59 409) and Japan (Swan Song, P-10731N). Reached #39 on the UK charts and #54 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Swan Song, 8507).

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