Rockpile Live at Montreux is a breathless run through sixteen performances‚ fully half of which are less than three minutes long‚ and represents the only other official document of the band besides their single studio album Seconds of Pleasure.
But the quartet accompanied their frontmen‚ guitarist Dave Edmunds and bassist Nick Lowe‚ on solo albums under their own names (Tracks on Wax 4 and Labour of Lust‚ respectively)‚ and represented a logical extension of the British pub-rock movement‚ itself a rootsy reaction to the artsy pretension of the mid-seventies rock that predated the onset of punk and New Wave.
The spontaneity that stood the members of Rockpile in such good stead in the studio benefitted them in live performance as well. Lowe produced both Graham Parker and Elvis Costello on their earliest records‚ so it's not surprising the former's "Crawling From the Wreckage" appears here (besides the fact it's a vintage rockabilly re-write). The latter's "Girls Talk" is‚ like Lowe's own material such as "So It Goes‚" a bit too dense to qualify as pure pop‚ but Rockpile thrashes their way through it with ebullience. Edmunds originals and his choice of covers‚ including Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock‚" aren't rendered with tongue so far in cheek as his partner's‚ but they're just as addictive.
As is most of the rest of the fifty-minute cd. This recording isn't exactly polished to pristine lengths -- Nick Lowe's vocals are hard to hear more than once -- but that only suits the vintage rock texture of this music. It's a trebly‚ antique sound these musicians went to great lengths to replicate on work on their own and through their collaborations in the recording studio.
Edmunds and Lowe hardly do it alone either. Terry Williams bashes away at his drums with unabashed glee throughout this set while guitarist Billy Bremner drops fills in with unerring accuracy on "Queen of Hearts" and "I Knew the Bride‚" to name just two. And he obviously relishes his vocal spotlight on "Trouble Boys".
Perhaps just a footnote in rock history‚ Rockpile's is one worth investigating more than some whole chapters and there's no better place to begin than Live at Montreux 1980.