Having been out of print for what seems like half a lifetime (and for some of us, I guess it probably has been), those good folk at Yep Roc Records have seen fit to re-issue Nick Lowe‘s quite remarkable five album run from the 1980s as well as his rather splendid 1990 release Party Of One.
Lowe, of course, is very much a “musician’s musician”. Ask any random member of the public who is of a particular vintage to name you one of his songs and, inevitably you will be met with either incredulous silence or, if you’re lucky, “isn’t that the bloke who did ‘Cruel To be Kind’?” – equally, they may remember his biggest hit single, ‘I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass‘, both decent songs, granted, but it seems a pity that these are what he is primarily known for, as they are FAR from his best songs.
1983’s The Abominable Snowman, for example, contains some of the sharpest tunes of that decade, sometimes coming across like Costello (‘We Want Action‘, ‘Time Wounds All Heels‘), while tracks like ‘Tanque-Rae‘ recalls Hank Mizell‘s 1958 belter ‘Jungle Rock‘ and ‘Cool Reaction‘ is one of Lowe’s many forays into the world of reggae. It’s more than a little surprising that a then 33 year old white kid from London could pull off the genre so effectively.
1990’s Party Of One is full of wondrous surprises, not least because of the somewhat novelty feel of some of the tracks, perhaps most notably ‘All Men Are Liars‘, delivered in a kind of Marty Robbins meets Jim Reeves style and containing hilarious lines like “Well do you remember Rick Astley? He had a big fat hit, it was ghastly.” But then of course you get the flipside of that coin, and the brilliant Bob Dylan-like ‘(I Want To Build A) Jumbo Ark‘, reminding you that Lowe, for all his relative anonymity in the general public’s eye, is up there with the all time great British songwriters.
Pinker And Prouder Than Before (1988) is perhaps more of a slow burner, but again the craftsmanship is top notch and includes a riotous cover of Graham Parker‘s ‘Black Lincoln Continental‘, as well as takes on seminal tunes by John Hiatt (‘Love Gets Strange‘) and Lawton Williams (‘Geisha Girl‘) amongst Lowe’s own compositions, the best of which here is probably the Alvin Stardust-like ‘I Got The Love‘.
It’s difficult to pick a favourite album here but both Nick The Knife and The Rose Of England (1982 and 1985 respectively) are stone cold classics. The former album showcases the fantastic Carleen Carter co-write ‘My Heart Hurts‘, the swirling fairground organ feel of proceedings perfectly complementing Lowe’s affecting lyrics, while ‘Queen Of Sheba‘ still sounds like it could have been penned by The Small Faces. Hiatt is revisited again on the latter long player’s beautifully interpreted ‘She Don’t Love Nobody‘.
By now it’s become apparent to me that there’s no way I can compress a review of a six album set of re-issues – especially a body of work this impressive – into the 500 words we are generally restricted to, so I’ll have to go over a bit and finish by saying that Nick Lowe And His Cowboy Outfit (1984) is my own personal pick of the bunch – a hidden gem, if you will. The smoothly soulful ‘The Gee And The Rick And The Three Card Trick‘, for instance, must surely be one of the finest moments of his career, the tremendous Johnny-And-The-Hurricanes-with-lyrics-like opener ‘Half A Boy And Half A Man‘ notwithstanding, and his entertaining lambasting of a would-be Casanova on ‘God’s Gift To Women‘ is a thing of joy.
Seriously though, I can’t really do the guy’s output enough justice in just a few hundred words. Trust me, you just need Nick Lowe in your life. And if anyone laughs about that, tell ’em to ‘Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine‘…
All six of these re-issues are being released by Yep Roc throughout July and August.
The post Nick Lowe – Nick The Knife (1982), The Abominable Snowman (1983), Nick Lowe And His Cowboy Outfit (1984), The Rose Of England (1985), Pinker And Prouder Than Previous (1988), Party Of One (1990) (Yep Roc) appeared first on God Is In The TV.