What band/artist not only had the best debut album, but arguably never produced another one as good throughout long careers to follow? A lot of interesting possibilities but I’m going with the following list (in no particular order): The Cars, Boston, Pearl Jam, The Police, Joe Jackson, The Go-Go’s, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, B-52’s, The Pretenders, and Guns N’ Roses. Alright, and what if that best debut album turned out to be their only album? I think that brings my list down to Derek & The Dominos and The Sex Pistols (two bands you’d probably never expect to see in the same sentence together), and, on a technicality, the one to whom I’m going to award the crown, Rockpile.
A British supergroup of sorts led by two of my favorite and most underrated artists ever, Dave Edmunds on guitar/vocals and Nick Lowe on bass/vocals, Rockpile released only one album, 1980’s “Seconds Of Pleasure” – a 12-song collection of unequivocal pure pop perfection. Now, the technicality is that the same four members of Rockpile did play together on several other records, but those were all released as solo albums for either Edmunds or Lowe – and contained some of their best known songs, including ‘Crawling From The Wreckage’ for Edmunds and ‘Cruel To Be Kind’ by Lowe. Nevertheless, “Seconds Of Pleasure” was the only one ever released under the Rockpile banner, and thus my “debut and only” championship claim is legit. (And a brief aside, what a great title that is too. It really sums up so much, doesn’t it? I remember once in a bar counseling a young co-worker, who was in a long-term relationship, about pursuing a bar maiden who seemed likely to be, shall we say, making herself available to him, and quoting this album title – which, of course, he had never heard of – proved enough to dissuade him).
Anyway, from my winning album I’m choosing to feature the song ‘Heart,’ with incredible soaring vocals delivered neither by Edmunds nor Lowe but by 2nd guitar/vocalist Billy Bremner (one of only two tunes on the album he sang). I think I must’ve listened to this one thousands of times. First, because it’s such an impeccable 2:36 of new wave, power pop artistry, combining elements of rockabilly with Motown and distilling sweet rock and roll. And second, because my friend and one-time college housemate, Walt, possibly loved it even more, and even more still, loved to proudly sing it substituting each of the 16 lyrical occurrences of “Heart” with “Walt.” Over and over and over again. Maybe try listening to it once as is, then again at least mentally inserting the “Walt” replacements. I can tell you from excessive experience it’s awesome either way.