Last week’s long-awaited reissue of Nick Lowe’s classic 1979 Labour of Lust record brought to light a previously unseen documentary about its recording, “Born Fighters.” At the time, Nick was a member of Rockpile, a group whose one album under their own name tells only a fraction of their story. In fact, the closest corollary one could find would probably be the Traveling Wilburys, in that their short-lived collaboration was incredibly fruitful, with the creative juice overflowing into a number of other successful ventures. Over the three year period from 1978 to 1980, Rockpile (Lowe, Dave Edumunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams) were responsible for Edmunds’ hit albums Trax on Wax 4 and Repeat When Necessary, Lowe’s Labour of Lust, their own Seconds Of Pleasure, as well as most of Micky Jupp’s Juppanese and Carlene Carter aka Johnny Cash’s stepdaughter’s Musical Shapes. Plus, if you’re keeping track, you know that Lowe also found time to produce Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces and Get Happy!! during that stretch. The stuff was just pouring out of them! And oddly enough, it’s ALL exceptional…

Whenever such artistic explosions occur, it’s important to take notice. If the documentary is to be trusted, it would appear that fun (and mutual love of bar music) was the chief motivating factor. Go figure. You can watch the whole thing on youtube… in 12 parts. But it’s definitely worth the time/hassle, especially if you enjoy no-frills rock n roll with a raised eyebrow and a New Wave edge. I was especially surprised by how well their music has dated, considering what else was popular at the time:

The Rockpile project produced many gems, particularly from the pen of Nick Lowe, but none greater than “When I Write The Book,” a song about regret and failure (and human bondage) that is somehow as fun as it is bittersweet:

Finally, we’d be doing them a disservice if we didn’t include one clip of them playing live, which is what they were known for, of course (“playing Chuck Berry music four times faster than anyone else” is how they described their act):