Dave Edmunds took a few years off between hits. Like, 12 of them.
Rockabilly fueled guitar twanger Edmunds hit the Top 5 in 1971 with his cover of “I Hear You Knocking”, a song that was as forward thinking as it was retro, with its megaphone vocal effect and grungy production. But it wasn’t until 1983 (The Best Year for Music Ever!) that Dave returned to the Top 40, once again looking forward by mixing some New Wave into his Eddy twang.
But first, Edmunds did some time with Nick Lowe in the influential New Wave By Default combo Rockpile, where they amassed a few UK hits, but came up short Stateside. After Rockpile dissolved, Edmunds meandered along with some low-charting solo work until hooking up with Electric Light Orchestra mastermind turned producer Jeff Lynne for two tracks on Information.
The album’s first single, the Jeff Lynne penned and produced “Slipping Away”, was a huge MTV hit, with the channel pounding out the video in heavy rotation, but all that heat didn’t help it burn up the charts. “Slipping Away” barely squeaked into the Top 40, spending a solitary week at #39. You’d think it was a Top 10 hit the amount of airplay the video got:
“Slipping Away” is a great tune, though, sounding like an ELO/rockabilly/Duane Eddy mashup, retro and contemporary at the same time. Edmunds followed up that success with the album’s title track, the only other Lynne-produced song on the set. “Information” is even more awash in synths and drum machines, but that familiar Edmunds twang is there, along with an infectious chorus. Again, MTV adored the clip for a short while, but Edmund’s chance at a big hit was, er, slipping away:
A year later, Edmunds didn’t want to rock the boat too much, bringing Lynne back to produce half of Riff Raff, including its first single, the Holland/Dozier/Holland classic “Something About You”. I love the sound on this one because while it’s definitely a Jeff Lynne production, he makes it sound like it’s coming from a mono AM radio speaker – with synths!
While I dug it, no one else seemed to, since the single didn’t chart and Riff Raff sank without a trace. Afterwards, Edmunds retreated into production work (he produced Squeeze, The Stray Cats and k.d. lang for starters) and occasional solo work, but his 12 year-span of bookend hits are all he has to show for his mainstream solo efforts. Hey, that’s two more than you have.
“Slipping Away” peaked at #39 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart in 1983.
“Information” peaked at #106 on the Bubbling Under Chart that same year.
“Something About You” did not chart.
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