Dave Charles - drums; Phil Chen - bass; Steve Cropper - guitar, vocals; Dave Edmunds - guitar, keyboards, vocals; Cecilia Gardtman - vocals ; Terry Williams - drums; Gavin Polby - keyboards; Horn Section: Miami Horns; Guest: Graham Parker - vocals; Guest: Kim Wilson - vocals; Guest: Dion - vocals
Dave Edmunds had seen the hoopla surrounding Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band tour in 1989, when the former Beatle gathered a group of celebrity musician friends to form a touring band playing songs from the Fab Four, his solo hits, and all the best loved hits of the individual group members. The Starr tour had such a positive response that Edmunds decided he would try something similar.
Dave Edmunds All Star Rock 'N' Roll Revue gathered a quirky but powerful bunch of musical allies, many of whom had worked with Edmunds in the studio or in collaboration. Graham Parker (who had worked often with Edmunds and his cohort Nick Lowe), Fabulous Thunderbird lead vocalist Kim Wilson (who had collaborated with him), and '50s/'60s pop icon Dion were all part of the caravan of rock innovators that hit the road in the spring of 1990.
Although it was never released stateside, this show did eventually make it to record as a double disc in Japan only. In America, the show was broadcast in an abbreviated version on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, but this is the entire set and what a show it is. Opening with "Last Night," a song originally recorded in 1961 by the Mar-Keys (the original Stax label studio session band that included Steve Cropper on guitar), it begins and ends with a sampling of Dave Edmunds' best work, including "I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock and Roll," "I Hear You Knockin'"(his 1971 solo hit), "Ju-Ju Man," "Crawling From The Wreckage," and "Small Things Mama," which had been written expressly for Edmunds by his friend Bruce Springsteen.
The rest of the performance is a variety show that never stops delivering. The Edmunds band was truly an all-star outing, with guitarist Steve Cropper (Booker T & The MGs, Blues Brothers), Terry Williams (ex-Rockpile), Phil Chen (ex-Rod Stewart), the Memphis Horns, and others. Some of the material was catered to the band members' involvement (such as "Dock Of The Bay," which Cropper had written with Otis Redding).
The special guests, however, contribute the bulk of the big hits. Wilson reprises his cover of Sam & Dave's "Wrap It Up" (which the Thunderbirds also had a radio hit with). He also sings their biggest hit, "Tuff Enuff." Dion, whose career began on the doo-wop street corners of the Bronx, NY in the 1950s with the Belmonts, delivers hits that spanned a dozen years, and included "Ruby Baby," "Runaround Sue," "The Wanderer," and the poignant "Abraham, Martin & John," which he released weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King.
The most memorable of all the performances, hands down, goes to Graham Parker, the gritty British pub-rock icon. From the slow drive of "Local Girls," to post-punk pop of "Slash & Burn," to the pure urgency of "Soul Time" and "Heat Treatment," Parker turns in a performance as strong as the early live shows he recorded with his old band, the Rumour.
The entire cast winds down the performance with a rollicking re-make of the Little Richard classic, "You Keep A Knockin'." To hear such a classic son performed by this great ensemble of musicians, singers, and performers, is exhilarating, to say the least.