294. ‘I Hear You Knocking’, by Dave Edmunds

And so we arrive at a song I know very well – a song I’ve loved for a long time. It’s one of my earliest memories of popular music, this song – so early that I have no idea how it got to be there, buried in my consciousness.

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I Hear You Knocking, by Dave Edmunds (his 1st and only #1)

6 weeks, from 22nd November 1970 – 3rd January 1971

I love the choppy guitar, and the fried vocals. The trippy effects in the background, too, that sound like weird sea-creatures calling to one another across the deep. And I love the fact that at heart it’s just a straight-up, chugging, no frills rock ‘n’ roll number. You went away and left me, Long time ago, And now you’re knockin’, On my door…

It’s a sassy song – the singer telling his ex to get the hell out with their sweet words. I hear you knockin’, But you can’t come in… Go back where you been! She left him, though he begged her not to, and Edmunds still isn’t over it. Though he later reveals that this all happened in ’52, when he told her that I would never go with you… Which is both contradictory to what he sang two verses earlier, and a hell of a long time to hold a grudge…

Who cares. Careless lyrics aside, this is a rocking record. Our second whiff of glam at the top of the charts – after ‘Spirit in the Sky’ – and a bit of a throwback. (Over the chorus, Edmunds starts shouting out the names of some fifties rock ‘n’ roll stars – Chuck Berry! Fats Domino! – to leave us in no doubt about to whom this song owes a debt.) Something that sounds like a steam train gets added to the insistent rhythm, and then we get the piece de resistance of the whole record: the single, clanging note from a honky-tonk piano. Dung! Next verse!

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Despite ‘I Hear You Knocking’ sounding like it just crawled out of a Louisiana swamp, Dave Edmunds is actually Welsh. He had had one UK Top 10 with his blues band Love Sculpture, and this was his first, and by far his biggest, solo hit. It’s a staple of 70s Compilations, which is probably where first I heard it as a kid. ‘I Hear You Knocking’ was first recorded in the mid-fifties, by Smiley Lewis (Edmunds also shouts his name out during the solo) and then Fats Domino. Edmunds himself just recently retired from touring in his mid-seventies.

I do love this song, but am struggling to write much more about it. Really though – it’s not the sort of song that needs much writing about. If this record were a person, it’d be a doer, not a thinker. It gets you tapping your feet, and shaking your shoulders, rather than working your brain. I’d simply suggest that you click on the link below and get doing the same…

Actually, one thing that’s worth noting here is how long this, and so many other records, have spent at the top this year. ‘I Hear You Knocking’ got six, as did Elvis and Freda Payne. Mungo Jerry got seven, Edison Lighthouse five. If you look a little further, to the tail end of 1969, Rolf Harris also got six, while The Archies spent eight weeks up there! Not sure what this signifies, other than the fact that we are in the company of some monster hits at the moment – and that they’re going to keep on coming (and staying).

Listen to every number one so far on my Spotify playlist.

12 thoughts on “294. ‘I Hear You Knocking’, by Dave Edmunds

  1. I think there may be the suggestion in there that, when she left, she wanted him to come with her and he refused. She left without him and returned. He’s got a big grudge, now. LOL!

    It does sound very “Southern Rock” -ish. I knew he was a Welshman. He’s a great musician/singer. I used to get him & Dave Mason mixed up.

    1. Ah, OK. I was taking the ‘I would never go with you’ as him saying he’d never go out with her. If it means he wouldn’t leave with her then it makes more sense….

      I’ve been listening to some more of Edmunds stuff since writing this. He’s a great no-nonsense rock singer.

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  3. I love the way Dave sounds like he is singing down a phone line at the start of the record (compare ELO’s ‘Telephone Line’ a good six years later). Not only that, but are there any drums on this record? Were there drums on the first Mungo Jerry singles, or on one of the classic No. 2’s of early 1971, ‘Ride a White Swan’, by T. Rex? Nope. This was a glorious period of lo-fi simplicity – just pick up a tambourine, thump a couple of bongo drums on the overdub – and I don’t think some of us realised for years! (Who needs drum machines…..)

    1. He sounds like he’s singing down that telephone line the whole way through, no? That is true about the drums, too. This short period sees some gloriously unpolished #1 singles. I like to think the folks involved were too busy having a good time to care too much

  4. Big fan of Dave, loved his Spector-ish Baby I Love You period, his Costello cover Nick Lowe’s Rockpile-period Girl’s Talk, and much more, always with a love for early rock n roll. The guitar on Love Sculpture’s hit is jaw-dropping! Monsterly fabulous.

    1. I need to listen to more of him. Like I said, this is one of my first musical memories but it never really occurred to me to check out more of his stuff. Weird. Just listened to ‘Sabre Dance’… Wow. Stick that on after ‘Baby Jump’ and you got yourself a party!

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