Music

Rockpile: Seconds of Pleasure [reissue]

Stephen Haag

Rockpile

Seconds of Pleasure [reissue]

Label: Legacy
US Release Date: 2004-04-27
UK Release Date: 2004-05-03
Amazon
iTunes

There's never a bad time to be a fan of Nick Lowe or Dave Edmunds (though the mid-'80s were a little lean) and 2004 is shaping up to be one of the better years in recent memory for such fandom. Their beloved British pub rock band, Brinsley Schwarz, just released Cruel to be Kind, a collection of early-'70s archival BBC recordings, and now comes the re-release (and upgrade) of Seconds of Pleasure, from Lowe and Edmunds' days as pub rockers/power poppers Rockpile. The band -- guitarist/keyboardist Edmunds, bassist Lowe, along with guitarist Billy Bremner and drummer Terry Williams -- played together all throughout the 1970s but managed to capture their magic on tape only once, for 1980's Seconds of Pleasure. A rift between Lowe and Edmunds ensured no follow-up album, but that doesn't detract from the fact that Seconds is an unmitigated masterpiece.

Reading up on Lowe and Edmunds in preparation of this review, I get the feeling that they were the Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar, respectively, of their day. Lowe, like Tweedy, was prone to more straightforward rockers and was a little more loosey-goosey, to boot. Meanwhile, Edmunds, like Farrar, felt compelled to play the role of Keeper of the Flame, recreating the Sun Studios sound that preceded him. Of course, by the time Anodyne, Uncle Tupelo's swan song, rolled around, Tweedy and Farrar's songwriting personae couldn't both fit under the Tupelo banner, and one gets the same vibe from Lowe and Edmunds on Seconds. While they share songwriting credits with Bremner and Williams on the album's original twelve tracks, they alternate lead vocals, ensuring that no one wields too much power in the band (though they do let Bremner take the mic for "Heart" and "You Ain't Nothin' But Fine").

But rather than cancel each other out, the two men use their different strengths to push each other to greater heights. Edmunds' focus reigns in Lowe's wilders impulses, and Lowe's palpable sense of fun loosens up the staid Edmunds. Among the six originals -- they're all highlights, so I'll just cherry-pick a few for closer examination -- "Now and Always" could be a lost Buddy Holly track; the chugging "Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)" is an old Brinsley Schwarz chestnut with a new coat of paint, courtesy of Edmunds's piano; and "When I Write the Book" matches Lowe's darkly funny lyrics -- "When I write the book about my love / It'll be about a man who's torn in half / About his hopes and ambitions wasted through the years / The pain will be writing on every page in tears" -- with a tune so catchy one barely realizes how bleak the lyrics are.

And the covers prove that as good as Lowe and Edmunds are at penning originals, they're equally adept at digging up fantastic old tunes and putting the Rockpile stamp on them. At the risk of sounding heretical, the covers are almost better than the originals. Lowe captures the illicit love implicit in Gene Chandler's "Teacher Teacher" ("Lesson Two: Lovin' you"), while Edmunds puts a new-wave spin on "Wrong Again (Let's Face It)" (written by the dudes from Squeeze!) and wins the award for the album's funniest song, by unearthing Kip Anderson's bizarro pub rocker/overeaters' anthem, "Knife and Fork". I'd be doing readers a disservice if I didn't mention the song's most priceless line: "You wear a size 44 / Have to turn sideways to get through the door / Girl, you let the knife and fork dig your grave".

Less goofy, but equally winning, are four Everly Brothers' covers culled from the Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds Sing the Everly Brothers EP. Dialing down the rock and playing up the vocal harmonies, the two turn in a batch of reverent covers (surely Edmunds' idea?). While these four songs have been available since the CD's original pressing back in 1988, this newest version of the album also adds three new live recordings -- "Back to Schooldays", "They Called it Rock", and "Crawling from the Wreckage" -- that only hint at the band's legendary live power.

Kudos to Columbia/Legacy for letting a new batch of fans get the opportunity to hear two masters operating at the peak of their powers.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.