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