Five Classic Covers from Dave Edmunds

Dave Edmunds is a highly regarded guitarist and producer. Working as a solo artist and in bands and collaborative projects, Cardiff, Wales-born Edmunds’ career has spanned more than a half century. Though he’s a solid rocker, his music explores a wide array of styles. Edmunds is also a superb interpreter of others’ work; some of his biggest successes have been covers of songs written by others. Here are five noteworthy Dave Edmunds tracks, all originally from the pen of other composers.

“Sabre Dance” from Love Sculpture’s Forms and Feelings (1968)
Armenian classical composer Aram Khachaturian wrote “Sabre Dance” for his 1942 ballet Gayane. At the height of the psychedelic era, Dave Edmunds’ group Love Sculpture cut a frenetic, rocked-up arrangement of the tune. Featuring blazing lead guitar and a breathtaking arrangement, Love Sculpture’s “Sabre Dance” is like nothing else in Edmunds’ body of work. Released as a single, it placed in the Top 40 in the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland and West Germany.

“I Hear You Knocking” single (1970)
Mere months after covering “Sabre Dance,” Edmunds headed in a very different direction on this single, released under his own name. A cover of the 1966 Smiley Lewis single written by New Orleans legend Dave Bartholomew, it’s a classic r&b tune given a slightly-updated reading by Edmunds. The guitarist scored a Top 10 hit in several countries (#4 in the U.S.), as well as a UK number one with “I Hear You Knocking.” It remains his biggest commercial success.

“Girls Talk” from Repeat When Necessary (1979)
Written by Elvis Costello, “Girls Talk” is a timeless melodic rocker with clever lyrics and a great Dave Edmunds lead vocal. Backed by Rockpile but crediting it as a solo recording, Edmunds scored a hit single in the UK and Ireland with the song; Costello released his own version less than a year later. “Girls Talk” has long been a highlight of Edmunds’ live set. The single made it into the Top 10 in the UK and Australia, but bubbled under at #65 on the U.S. chart.

“Wrong Again (Let’s Face It)” from Rockpile’s Seconds of Pleasure (1980)
The Squeeze songwriting team of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook wrote this song, a stylistic throwback that nonetheless still sounds modern today. Musically, the members of supergroup Rockpile – Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams – made great music together, both on the album featuring this cut and on solo releases from the band members. But personality-wise, the group was always an uneasy alliance. Rockpile split shortly after releasing one album under the group name.

“The Race is On” from Twangin… (1981)
A rockabilly tune written by Don Rollins, “The Race is On” would go on to become a genre-spanning classic. George Jones scored a country hit with the tune in 1964, but it has been covered by other artists as diverse as Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Grateful Dead, the Georgia Satellites and Blackberry Smoke. Edmunds’ version made excellent use of the talents of the Stray Cats, who backed him on this 1981 recording.