Ignored Obscured Restored
I was listening to a Spotify Daily Mix a few days ago that was feeding me a healthy dose of Nick Lowe songs… and I was digging it.
Lowe began his musical career in the Pub Rock scene in early ‘70s London. By the mid/late ‘70s he was working with Stiff Records as a producer and recording artist – vaguely associated with “punk” rock, but not really.
His first solo album was called Jesus of Cool (1978) in the UK but was given the less offensive title Pure Pop for Now People in the US (with a reprogrammed song order). It contained Lowe’s first single release for Stiff, “So It Goes.”
Pure pop, indeed! The song ended up on the soundtrack of The Ramones film Rock ‘n Roll High School.
Lowe’s next album, Labour of Lust (1979), contained one of his most popular hits, “Cruel to Be Kind.”
Lowe’s third solo LP, Nick the Nife (1982), gave us the power pop classic “Let Me Kiss Ya.”
This song is so innocent and sweet it could give you a cavity.
Lowe continued to write and record terrific songs. In 1994, Lowe released one of my favorites in his catalog – “I Live on a Battlefield” (co-written by Paul Carrack) – from The Impossible Bird album.
An irony of his career is that he’s become a wealthy man from a song he wrote that was made more famous by Elvis Costello — “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” But the big bucks came from the song’s inclusion on the soundtrack to the Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner film The Bodyguard (1992) and it wasn’t even Costello’s version! The massive sales success of that album generated royalties to Lowe estimated to exceed $2.5 million. Not bad!!!
Lowe was married to Carlene Carter for 11 years. That made him Johnny Cash’s stepson-in-law. He played in “supergroup” Little Village with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, and Jim Keltner. He is also one of a relatively small collection of artists that have performed at least 5 times at the free, San Francisco music festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. All of these connections put him in damn good company!
No wonder I was digging that Spotify playlist. Nick Lowe is a treasure.
Enjoy… until next week.
Don’t get me started. Lowe produced those early Costello albums, the ones that are pretty much pure song genius from start to finish. He continues to write great songs and while his attraction to Los Straitjackets strains my attention, I saw them a couple of years ago at Lincoln Center, it was fun and rocking. So I’m not complaining. The Basher is a total fave for me.
A treasure indeed. I saw him last year at Lincoln Center with Los Straitjackets and he’s as charming as ever, putting on a fine show. I thought Little Village was a lost opportunity. Lowe and Cooder are two of my favorites, Keltner is excellent, but the record features mostly the prickly jerk Hiatt. Oh well. When I want to find new Lowe I turn to Rockpile.
Hmm, for some reason the June 10th comment didn’t post, so I posted again with a slightly different angle, and then they both posted. Weird. I’m leaving them up for posterity.
It was quarantined, awaitng approval and release.