Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So It Goes...The Story of Nick Lowe....Show # 241

Nick Lowe is known as a solo artist, multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, harmonica, piano), and record producer. He formed Brinsley Schwarz 1965 (originally they went by the name Kippington Lodge until 1968). The band would be known as pub rockers, but would also play blues rock and country music. With this group Lowe would compose some of his best known compositions, "(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding", and "Cruel To Be Kind", the group would last until 1975. "(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" would become a hit in the UK when it was covered by Elvis Costello & The Attractions in 1979. "Cruel To Be Kind" would be re-recorded in 1980 for a Nick Lowe solo album and become a UK charting hit as well.

Around this time Lowe began producing bands. He would produce the likes of Dr. Feelgood and Graham Parker. Since Lowe was still under contract that was signed while he was still in his pub rock band Brinsley Schwarz, Lowe composed several singles that were intended to not only flop, but get him kicked off the label. After releasing singles such as "Bay City Rollers We Love You" (which ironically did very well in Japan) and "Let's Go To the Disco", Lowe was dropped from the UA label. The music that Lowe composed around this time was also very different from his pub rock days with Brinsley Schwarz, they were more pop. After leaving UA Lowe signed to Stiff Records as an artist and their in house producer.

In 1976 Lowe released the single "So It Goes" backed with "Heart of the City". The single was seen as a proto-punk single, it did not chart well but received a lot of acclaim. In 1977 the Bowi EP was released. The four track EP's title was a joke in response to the David Bowie album Low. Lowe would also begin producing a lot of bands around this time. He did The Damned's Damned, Damned, Damned, Elvis Costello's My Aim is True, and The Rumour. Nick Lowe's early production style earned him the nick name "Basher". He was called this because the artists would bash out the song then fix it up later. If that wasn't enough he also became a member of the band Rockpile, who were Dave Edumund's touring band. They would also become Nick Lowe's backing band. After touring with the Stiff package tour, which featured Stiff Records artists, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello left the label and went to Radar Records.

Jesus of Cool and Pure Pop For Now People (1978)

In 1978, Nick Lowe recorded his first solo album which would be titled Jesus of Cool. The album would address themes such as the greed and commercialization of music as well as how shallow pop music can be. The album featured songs such as "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" (# 7 on the UK singles charts), "Heart of the City", So It Goes", and "They Called it Rock". While lyrically the album contained many thought provoking and at times humorous themes, the music reflected new wave music. When the album was released in the US, it was retitled Pure Pop For Now People, and had a slightly different track listing. In 1979, Labour of Lust was released. It would contain a re-recording of a Brinsley Schwarz song "Cruel To Be Kind". The song would be Lowe's only top ten US hit. At this time Lowe would also produce The Pretenders single "Stop Your Sobbing" (which was actually a cover of a Kinks song) and marry the step daughter of Johnny Cash. He would produce two Carlene Carter albums Musical Shapes in 1980 and Blue Nun in 1981.

In 1979, since Lowe and Edmunds were still in Rockpile together, they toured together to support each others solo albums. Rockpile would be a double fronted group (by both Lowe and Edmunds), but they would only release one album under the name Rockpile. Seconds of Pleasure was released in 1980, but Rockpile would be the backing band for two Dave Edmunds solo albums (Tracks On Wax 4 and Repeat When Necessary) and on the Nick Lowe solo album Labour of Lust in 1979. In 1980 they would split up. Lowe would do another solo album in 1982 titled Nick the Knife. The album did well on the album charts in the US and the UK, but no singles charted that high. The only exception was the song "Stick It Where the Sun Don't Shine" which was a top 40 hit in Canada. After releasing one more solo album under his pop musical style format (The Abominable Snowman in 1983) he would then go into more of a country music oriented direction. In 1984 he released Nick Lowe & His Cowboy Outfit . The bands 1985 album Rose of England, produced some of Lowe's last high charting hits in the UK ("Half a Boy and Half a Man") and the US ("I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)).

In 1986, Nick Lowe began producing other bands again. He produced Elvis Costello and The Attractions album Blood & Chocolate. He would also produce work by The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Paul Carrack, and John Hiatt. Lowe would also become a member of the studio band Little Village. This group of musicians which included Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner played as the backing band on John Hiatt's album Bring the Family. Released in 1987, the album was Hiatt's first album to chart on the Billboard 200 (it was in fact his 8th studio album). In 1992, Lowe's song "(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" was covered by Curtis Stigers on the Bodyguard soundtrack. As a result Nick Lowe received a lot of financial compensation due to song writing royalties; The soundtrack sold more than 15 million copies.

In the mid 90s Lowe returned with the Country album Impossible Bird. He also toured to support this, which was his first tour in five years. In 1998, he released Dig My Mood. It received good reviews. The Convincer came in 2001, Untorched Takeaway in 2004 (it was a live album), followed by At My Age in 2007. The albums are seen as a trilogy (starting with The Convincer) in a Country/Rock music format. Lowe is now on Yep Rock Records in the US. Jesus of Cool was remastered/re-issued in 2008 with bonus tracks. In 2009 they released a double CD greatest hits collection titled Quiet Please...The New Best of Nick Lowe.

Play List:

1. The Hentchmen - Psycho Daisies
2. The Strange - East Side Crush
3. Obits - Pine On
4. Lowlife - Leader
5. Private School - I Wanna Know
6. Bureaucrats - Today & Everyday
7. Ex-Boyfriends - The Secret of Immortality
8. Nick Lowe - Heart of the City
9. Nick Lowe - When I Write the Book
10. Radiohead - Talk Show Host
11. The Slickers - You Can't Win
12. Joe Strummer - The Harder They Come
13. Flag of Convenience - Shut Out The Light
14. The Teardrops - Colours
15. Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love
16. Grape Digging Sharon Fruits - Shouting At Cars
17. Supergrass - Mansize Rooster
18. Evaporators - Shakin' With the Shaggy Shaker
19. The Spys - I Wanna Be Be Like You
20. Sloan - Living With the Masses
21. Sloan - Emergency 911
22. Raconteurs - Headin' For the Texas Border (Live)
23. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - I Wanna Be Loved
24. The Hives - No Pun Intended
25. The D4 - Exit To The City

To download this week's show visit the CJAM archives and select the files 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM on March, 24th 2009.

Lowe Videos:

Heart of the City (Live 1977)
So It Goes (Live 1978)
Cruel To Be Kind (TOTP 1979)
I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass (TOTP)
Teacher, Teacher (Rockpile 1980)
I Knew The Bride (Rockpile)
(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (Live Jimmy Kimmel 2007)
Hope For Us All (Live 2007)

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