Record World, December 25, 1976

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Record World

US music magazines


Stars to watch for 1977

Barry Taylor

It's been a good year for new talent. Boston, Heart, Wild Cherry, Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, Robert Palmer and Vicki Sue Robinson have made that clear with records on the chart and budding careers. Graham Parker quickly established himself as an artist to watch with the Howlin' Wind and Heat Treatment albums and there is already talk that his group, The Rumour is ready to go into the studio to record under their own name. Along with Graham Parker and the Rumour, other names to watch for in 1977 are Peter Gabriel, the former Genesis vocalist who is embarking on a solo career, Brand X, Pilot, City Boy, Dwight Twilley and the Kursaal Flyers in addition to those mentioned below:

Stiff Records

While its seven singles have only been released in the U.K., Stiff Records, the label launched last summer by former Dr. Feelgood road manager Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson, who still manages Graham Parker and the Rumour, is perhaps the most successful example of the new wave of independent labels.

In just five months and with a loan of about $800 secured from members of Dr. Feelgood, Stiff has established a credibility for itself in the U.K. as the prime outlet for aspiring music makers with an ear for new talent and a flair for packaging and marketing its records that would do well to rub off on some of the more ambitious majors (Stiff has already released a double B-sided record, one timed at 1:99 and a 33 1/3 r.p.m. single in modes that vary from mono enhanced stereo and plain old stereo to neo stereo and 100 percent stereo).

"Today's Sound Today," one of the label's slogans ("The World's Most Flexible Record Company" and "If It Means Something To Everyone... It Must Be A Stiff" are some others), is a paraphrase of Phil Spector's "Tomorrow's Sound Today" and an accurate description of the kind of immediacy that has come to characterize Stiff. In two weeks, about the time it takes a major record label to cut through the red tape before making a decision, Stiff claims it can sign an act, have its record pressed and distributed to the stores.

Granted that because of its limited cash flow, the label is not about to draw up history making contracts for groups like The Damned, The Tyla Gang, Richard Hell or The Pink Fairies, but their one off agreements have all resulted in favorable sales. Each record has turned a profit and continues to do well months after its release. The entire Stiff catalogue continues to sell, in large part through a network of specialty shops and American importers.

"The way things are at the moment," Riviera recently said in an interview, "we can virtually guarantee to sell quite a few thousand copies of a record by a group that, for various reasons, the majors would never consider signing." In fact, he claimed that "they're not sure how we can keep selling thousands of records by people they've never heard of."

The Pink Fairies is a case in point. With major labels hesitant to pick up on the group again (they were once signed to Polydor), their single, "Between The Lines" b/w "Spoiling For A Fight" (BUY 2), has received over 6000 advance orders and other labels are taking note. A totally unknown group like The Damned, who only performed in public 16 times before entering the studio, received 2000 advance orders for "New Rose" b/w "Help" (BUY 6), enough to interest UA to take over national distribution for the record.

While Stiff is not yet in the position to offer large advances, they are able to offer the artist a relatively high royalty rate of 15 percent. "We ask a group to come along with us. They really haven't got that much to lose," Riviera said. "To begin with, they get a record in the shop and if it sells well, they are in a position to make a good profit. To a relatively unknown club band, a single is a great help in regard to getting gigs."

Stiff's latest release is an EP by punk hero Richard Hell (BUY 7) which has been leased for a numbered limited edition of 5000 copies. Like most Stiff records, it is being packaged in a picture sleeve. And it's selling.

Scheduled for release early next year is the first album by Nick Lowe, Rockin' In The New Underground and the definitive pub rock lp.

Tags: Stiff RecordsDave EdmundsNick LoweGraham ParkerThe RumourGenesisDr. FeelgoodJake RivieraDave RobinsonThe DamnedRichard HellJohn LennonThe Rolling StonesPhil SpectorBompBrinsley SchwarzThe Everly BrothersSteve GouldingPaul "Bassman" RileyRoogalator

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Record World, December 25, 1976

Barry Taylor profiles Stiff Records and Dave Edmunds.


1976-12-25 Record World page 34.jpg
Page scans.

1976-12-25 Record World page 150.jpg

Dave Edmunds

Barry Taylor

Dave Edmunds had a top 10 single in 1970 with his quirky interpretation of Freddie Bartholomew's "I Hear You Knocking." It won him the instant admiration of John Lennon among others, but through two solo albums, numerous singles, a movie role and a notoriety as a producer, he still remains virtually an unknown entity.

John Lennon is not the only one aware of Edmunds' talent: it had been suggested that he was the only logical replacement for Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones, and Phil Spector has reportedly called him the producer he most respects. Greg Shaw summed it up best in Bomp magazine though, when he wrote, "Musicians, critics, people in the music business generally have such enormous regard for him that the slightest news concerning his activities is enough to arouse keen excitement."

Why then his relative obscurity? Edmunds achieved some initial success in the '60s with the group Love Sculpture, but has spent the better part of the '70s in the control booth of Rockfield Studios in Wales where he singlehandedly reworked the Spector stratagem on songs like "Born To Be With You" and "Baby, I Love You" and captured the primitive sound of the early Sun days through his painstaking use of overdubs: recording, engineering, producing, playing all the instruments and singing all of the vocal lines himself.

As a result, he has only recorded some three dozen sides over the past six years on two solo albums, some nine sporadic single releases and one side of the soundtrack lp to Stardust. It is this very scarcity of product that fuels the legend. It is the fact that he has side-stepped the road to stardom after attaining some initial success that he remains an enigma.

Only recently has Edmunds found that being a living legend is not as rewarding as it sounds. Between being revered by fellow musicians and record buffs and producing albums for Foghat, the Flamin' Groovies, Brinsley Schwarz, Ducks Deluxe, Deke Leonard and Del Shannon, he realized that he was spreading himself too thin.

It took him 18 months to follow his single success of "I Hear You Knocking" with the Rockpile lp (MAM), but it was too late and there were no further singles released from it. His second album, Subtle As A Flying Mallet (RCA), was a collection of tracks recorded over a three year period in addition to a couple of songs recorded live with Brinsley Schwarz. It too was too late to follow his British chart successes of "Born To Be With You" and "Baby, I Love You." Its American release was even one year later and only came about after the release of the Stardust movie for which he contributed one side to the soundtrack and made his screen debut.

"The first thing I decided," he told RW last summer, "was to stop producing other artists. It took me six years to realize that I've never really tried to capitalize on my own personal success, If anything has held me back, it's been the fact that I've always been far too busy trying to finish other artists' albums instead of concentrating on my own. Making solo albums is something I did between producing... it just dissipates your enthusiasm. From now on, I'm just going to concentrate on my own recordings."

Since being signed to Swan Song last summer, Edmunds' career appears to be on the upswing once again. His first single, "Here Comes The Weekend," was not as remarkable for the sound which seemed to rekindle the spirit of the Everly Brothers, as it was for the fact that he wrote the song with Nick Lowe.

Finding material has always been Edmunds' biggest obstacle as he openly admitted. "I can't even write bad songs," he told RW, "I just have a very hard time with lyrics. Years ago I wrote the B-side of a Love Sculpture single, but it was dreadful."

Edmunds recorded "Here Comes The Weekend" three days after it was written with help from Lowe, Stephen Goulding from the Rumour and a member of Roogalator. It turned out so well that the demo they cut for under $100 ended up as the master.

With a little consistency and some luck, 1977 could be Edmunds' year.

1976-12-25 Record World cover.jpg


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