Rockpile was a British rock and roll group of the late 1970s and early 1980s, noted for their strong rockabilly and power pop influences, and as a foundational influence on new wave. The band consisted of Dave Edmunds (vocals, guitar), Nick Lowe (vocals, bass guitar), Billy Bremner (vocals, guitar) and Terry Williams(drums).
Rockpile recorded four albums, though only one (Seconds of Pleasure) was released under the Rockpile banner. Two other albums (Tracks on Wax 4 and Repeat When Necessary) were released as Dave Edmunds solo albums, and one more (Labour of Lust) was released as a Nick Lowe solo album. Scattered Rockpile tracks can also be found on a few other Lowe and Edmunds solo albums. Additionally, Rockpile served as backing group on tracks recorded by Mickey Jupp in 1978 and Carlene Carter in 1980.
Band history[edit source | edit]
Guitarist/vocalist Edmunds had recorded a 1970 solo album titled Rockpile, and on his tour in support of the album, he billed his band, which included Terry Williams on drums, as Dave Edmunds and Rockpile.However, the band broke up after the tour, and Edmunds returned to studio work. One of the artists that he produced was the pub rock band Brinsley Schwarz, managed by Dave Robinson and led by bassist/singer Nick Lowe. The 1974 album that they did together, The New Favourites of... Brinsley Schwarz, pushed the band into a power pop mode and included the original version of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding". Brinsley Schwarz broke up after the album, and Lowe began doing session work with Edmunds, including Edmunds' 1975 solo album Subtle as a Flying Mallet.
When Robinson and Jake Riviera co-founded Stiff Records, Lowe was the first artist signed to the label, and he and Edmunds recorded new material for release under Lowe's name. Stiff promoted its ties to Edmunds. However, the relationship between Edmunds and Riviera was always rocky, and in 1976 Edmunds signed a solo contract with Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records, rejecting Riviera and Stiff. With help from Lowe and Terry Williams, Edmunds recorded a new solo album, Get It. Lowe and Edmunds then formed a new version of Rockpile, with Williams returning on drums and Billy Bremner joining as rhythm guitarand third vocalist.
Despite the pressures from having its two leaders signed to different labels, Rockpile toured in 1976-77 as the opening act for Edmunds' new labelmates Bad Company, and Edmunds also provided some archive tracks to Stiff for release on Stiff compilations. However, as Lowe and Stiff became increasingly popular, Rockpile went into an on-again, off-again status. In 1977, Lowe became part of the "Five Live Stiffs" tour without Rockpile. Only Terry Williams was included in Lowe's backing band, which was called Nick Lowe's Last Chicken in the Shop. At the last minute, however, Edmunds also joined the band, and, although Bremner didn't participate in this tour, Rockpile was soon back in business full time.
Rockpile appeared as a backing band on one track of Lowe's debut solo album, released in March 1978 with different track listings and titles in the UK and the US. The UK version (Jesus of Cool) featured Rockpile on the live recording of "Heart of the City", while the US album (Pure Pop for Now People) featured the Rockpile studio track "They Called It Rock", credited as being written by Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds/Rockpile.
Meanwhile, Edmunds' 1978 solo album (Tracks on Wax 4) was the first album to be completely a Rockpile album, but with Edmunds on all lead vocals. The album included the same live version of "Heart of the City," except with Edmunds' lead vocal overdubbed in place of Lowe's. Rockpile toured behind both the Lowe and Edmunds releases in 1978. The band also backed Mickey Jupp on side one of his Stiff albumJuppanese, produced by Lowe.
In 1979, Rockpile simultaneously recorded Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary and Lowe's Labour of Lust. Jake Riviera left Stiff Records and, taking his artists (Lowe, Elvis Costello, and The Yachts), moved toRadar Records in the UK (although Riviera Global Productions stayed with Columbia Records in the US). Edmunds's contract with Swan Song was unaffected by this change.
Rockpile (under solo artists' names) enjoyed hits in 1979 on both sides of the Atlantic with Edmunds' "Girls Talk" (a top 20 hit in both the UK and Canada) and Lowe's "Cruel to Be Kind" (top 20 in the UK, Canada and the US). Rockpile also played in the 29 December 1979 Concerts for the People of Kampuchea with Elvis Costello & The Attractions and Wings, where they were joined onstage by Led Zeppelin lead singerRobert Plant (co-owner of Swan Song). Two of the band's songs were included in the concert album.
Seconds of Pleasure[edit source | edit]
In 1980, Edmunds submitted the solo album Twangin..., which was mostly a collection of outtakes from his prior solo albums, to complete his Swan Song contract, freeing Rockpile to record a true band record for Jake Riviera's new label F-Beat Records. Released in the fall of 1980, Seconds of Pleasure featured lead vocal turns by Edmunds, Lowe and Bremner, and spawned the minor hit "Teacher Teacher", sung by Lowe. Twangin... was issued six months after Seconds of Pleasure, and featured Rockpile on nine of its eleven tracks.
Rockpile also backed Lowe's new wife Carlene Carter (Johnny Cash's stepdaughter) on most of her 1980 album Musical Shapes. In August Rockpile played the noted Heatwave festival near Toronto, which with 100,000 attenders was the first large punk or new wave music event, and where Rockpile were the most experienced of the several major bands. But tensions between Lowe and Edmunds led to the band's dissolution in 1981. As Lowe put it, "We got together for fun and when the fun had all been had we packed it in."
Bremner and Williams appeared on several Lowe albums throughout the 1980s, but Lowe and Edmunds didn't work together again until Lowe's 1988 album Pinker and Prouder than Previous.
Discography[edit source | edit]
Studio albums[edit source | edit]
|Year||Album details||Peak positions|
|1980||Seconds of Pleasure
Singles[edit source | edit]
|1980||"Wrong Again (Let's Face It)"||—||—||Seconds of Pleasure|
|"Now and Always"||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|