I grew up in a household where country radio was a staple of our car rides. And I certainly remember Juice Newton’s version of “Queen of Hearts” as a song that got quite a bit of airplay. Enough so that, years later, when combing through the vinyl archives of my college radio station, I did a bit of a double take when I picked up Dave Edmunds’ Repeat When Necessary. Here was an even earlier version of “Queen of Hearts” that sounded, honestly, really similar to Newton’s slicker, pop-country rendition.

Dave Edmunds is an artist whose name ought to be more well known, but whose slavish devotion to 50s and 60s rock and roll undoubtedly pigeonholed him in the ears of listeners. He cranked out a string of UK hits in the 70s and 80s with the band Rockpile, his collaboration with songwriter Nick Lowe, and Edmunds’ 1979 album, Repeat When Necessary, was recorded simultaneously with Lowe’s Labour of Lust, both with Rockpile as the band.

Queen of Hearts” was penned by Hank DeVito whose biggest song was easily this one, but who also wrote “Small Town Saturday Night” and a few other decently known hits for a litany of 80s country artists. Edmunds’ version of “Queen of Hearts” strikes the jaunty, rockabilly flavored notes of the song perfectly, and his lyrical and musical delivery of the song was the obvious template for Juice Newton’s version just two years later. It fits in perfectly amongst the rest of Repeat When Necessary, one of Edmunds’ strongest outings. Still, it probably stung a little to have his version eclipsed commercially so easily by Newton’s. His slightly more ragged performance is still a bit of a revelation to those who are familiar with the song, but like me, found it through Newton. words/ j neas

MP3: Dave Edmunds :: Queen Of Hearts
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9 Responses to “Dave Edmunds :: Queen Of Hearts”

  1. I think Dave Edmunds rules

  2. I got this album when I was in high school (yes, I’m that old) based on AOR’s airplay of “Crawling from the Wreckage” (yes the radio really did play new music back in the day)

    Thanks for the memories,

  3. Great tune. I had no idea that Dave E played this before Juice. Thanks for sharing the story.

  4. Great choice! Typically, I was just streaming this album on the Rdio site yesterday, after taking a listen to the great expanded Rockpile re-release. That one sounds better than ever, and an Edmunds-Lowe acoustic Everly set seals the deal.

  5. Great to see mention of one of the pub rock greats. Daves version of Queen of hearts did make it to #11 in the UK. Sadly, I Hear You Knocking (1970) and Slipping Away (1980) were his only US hits.

  6. Hank DeVito (who wrote this song) is also an extremely talented steel guitar player who cut his teeth as a member of emmylou harris’s original hot band in the 1970’s (http://youtu.be/tRk0RpbICRM). When Hank left the the hot band in the late 1970’s he joined up with Rodney Crowell (who was Emmylou’s harmony singer and rhythm guitarist in the hot band) who ended up recording a ripping version of this song as well….(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0FrBwF7oC4)

  7. Great track from a great LP. Most listeners who are familiar with Edmund’s career output — either as a recording artist or as a stellar producer for others — place him in the roots rock/rockabilly category, where he comfortably resided from the late ’70s onward. However, when he emerged from the British blues and hard rock scene of the late ’60s, as leader of the trio Love Sculpture, he was a bonafide guitar hero. The resulting two LPs from the band, 1968’s “Blues Helping,” a straight-ahead blues platter, and the outstanding follow-up “Forms and Feelings” from 1969, show Edmunds to have been shoulder-to-shoulder with Clapton, Beck, or Green. The latter LP veers from blazing rock to epic power psych to blues, and hits on all cylinders — a true gem of the era. Either Love Sculpture release is well worth a place in your record collection

  8. Dave Edmunds has always been one of my favorite real rock ‘n rollers, I loved his “slavish devotion to 50s and 60s rock and roll”. As a songwriter and musician, only Nick Lowe and Bruce Springsteen come close in this category.

  9. I would agree with Third Axis about the Love Sculpture albums. At the time I thought Edmunds played faster solos than any guitar player I had ever heard.
    I would also recommend his first solo album, “Rockpile,” from 1972, which included his minor hit “I Hear You Knocking,” as well as Neil Young’s “Dance, Dance Dance,” and a great song called “Down Down Down.” I always thought that, based on that album, Edmunds should have been Mick Taylor’s replacement in the Stones.

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