Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nick Lowe: Shoots the Big One and Scores Again

Hope you are doing well on the mend Suesjoy! Thinking about you often ;)

So as if summer could not get any better and hotter and rockin Nick Lowe has a new disc out AND Chrissie Hynde guests AND he covers the mythic soul of Solomon Burke within it! If you don't know already that Nicholas Drain Lowe of Brentford , London wrote "What's So Funny Bought Peace Love and Understanding" you definitely should, this dapper blue eyed beauty of a man can't make a bad album.

It's no surprise that Nick Lowe and Pete Townshend are two of my most favorite performers and people. Both are ridiculously talented and creative; the inverse of plastic and phoney in an industry of fluff. They both openly loath the music industry greed and politics and have been called two rock critics who happen to also be incomparable musicians. Rockpile, Lowe's seminal late 70's roots rock band he helmed alongside the silk voiced Dave Edmunds, is my favourite band right behind The Who and tied with the Beatles, in fact Rockpile were the baby Beatles in a sense, splitting due to industry red tape before they could move into their Sgt.Pepper's phase.

Nick Lowe just released his first disc since 2001, "At My Age", and once again he creates some of the most passionate and sardonic music anywhere. Believe it or not, after being very open about being selfish and carefree throughout his career he's suddenly a father for the first time in his life at age 60 to two year old Roy Lowe. Whomever the mother is she must certainly deserve some kind of award. If I was to create this award for her it would be engraved with: "Congratulations luv, I'm so fucking green and jealous with envy that I can't see straight that you were the one who received 'the seed all shot and sown and helped him make a little Hitler of his own' many happy years ahead, cheers."

I know as a former nanny that changing diapers is not always easy but I would consider coming out of my hiatus to them help out ;)

Ok, so here's the review and single uploaded from YouTube right here, right now before everyone reads this and thinks I just fantasize about rock stars all day.

Which of course I don't.

From ShoreFire Media:

Somewhere in London a musician lives who carries the keys to the musical kingdom. In his Technicolor sonic scope are all kinds of sounds, from rock to country to soul to pop. Nothing is off limits, as long as it has a groove and goodness based in reality. The musician has been performing for 40 years, but is as fresh today as the first time he stepped on stage. There are no tricks or short cuts here. Far from it. His songs are as solid as the earth, yet carry no lingering hype or heaviness. The musician is Nick Lowe, the headmaster of British rock, and his new album, At My Age, is such a cause for certain celebration that fans and neophytes alike should mark its release as a date to remember.

Maybe most interesting of all, At My Age was really an album that almost didn’t happen, or at least like it did. “It’s a record that I never really started,” Lowe says. “What normally happens in recent years when I feel like I want to do a record is I get an idea or feeling, along with about three or four new songs, which is a major body of work for me, because I’m not very prolific. When those two things coincide I call everyone up and we go in and record. And if that goes well, those three or four songs will serve as sort of the engine that will drive the writing and recording of the rest of the record. But that process never happened with this one, due to the dramas that have been served up to me in the last five years.”

For Nick Lowe, it’s always been about quality over quantity. In 2001 he released The Convincer, seen by many as one of the highlights of a long and illustrious recording career. After that, though, all went quiet on the studio front. There were scattered dates, a live album and assorted sightings, but no new studio release. That changed this year. Once he got back with his steady team of band mates Bobby Irwin (drums), Geraint Watkins (keyboards) and Steve Donnelly (guitar), there was no stopping them, even if the actual process was different. “This album has been recorded over such a long period of time in dribs and drabs that I don’t really have any perspective on it at all. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it’s like a bunch of tracks I’ve recorded to keep my hand in while I wait to start my next album.”

Sometimes the biggest gift of all comes when least expected, because as a collection of songs, At My Age actually has the feel of an all-timer. There are brand new Nick Lowe classics like “A Better Man” and “I Trained Her To Love Me” next to the obscure covers that are a total trademark of the ever-elegant Englishman, like Charlie Feathers’ “The Man In Love” and Faron Young’s “Feel Again.” And, as a special surprise, singer Chrissie Hynde guests on “People Change.” All are done with such supreme style and absolute substance that by album’s end, this is one collection that feels like a long-lost friend, music to bring on the good times and see listeners through the bad.

For Lowe, one of his secret weapons has always been as a songwriter of the highest order. “The last few records I’ve done have been a bit of my diary set to music,” he says. “I was feeling kind of blue and trying to describe some of what happens to everyone. It’s a rite of passage, really, the breaking up of relationships and all. But it’s different on this album, I suppose.”

Nick Lowe has proven one again his pen is mightier than ever, as evidenced by others like soul kings Howard Tate and Solomon Burke both doing earlier renditions of Lowe originals on At My Age. “It’s good when anyone does one of your songs, but I really like it best when they’re not too reverential with it, and they don’t do it like I did.” Another Lowe classic has been recently covered by the Holmes Brothers. “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding?” has been turned into a relentless statement of belief and faith by the Brothers, a fact not lost on Lowe. “When I heard that recently,” he says, “I just stood straight up and thought, ‘My goodness, they’ve really outdone everyone.’ Those are the moments where it’s almost too good to be true.”

One constant quality of Nick Lowe is that he knows what he’s doing, and how he wants to do it. There is no room for equivocation there. “It’s a difficult thing, really, with the music I do,” he says. “I know my thing doesn’t have huge broad appeal, and it’s sort of retro. But I can’t stand that retro thing, at the same time. I try to put something in it so it doesn’t sound like it’s too earnest. And I still love playing with the same guys I’ve been playing with for, well, ages. They’re really great players, and they get me. They can do all kinds of different stuff, and we know what we don’t like. We will work on it a bit, but not labor over it. For me, it’s never like, ‘For the next album I’m going to Peru and find a nose flute.” Never.

With someone like Nick Lowe, who has been such an unending influence on music as a performer, songwriter, producer and all-around proud fan, there is always the question of how he knows when his songs are ready for their public debut. “When I can pick up an acoustic guitar and play the thing through,” he says, “if I can do that and it feels like someone else has written it, or I’m playing a cover song so it doesn’t sound like me anymore, then it’s done. I don’t try to make it anything, because when I try to make it something I can’t stand it. It needs to be as natural as possible, and generally not sound too much like me. It’s an inner gyroscope that lets you know when it’s done.”

Lowe’s gyroscope is spinning just fine these days, and At Any Age shows there is no end in sight. Once again, the man who once dubbed himself a Party of One proves that he’s still not only the life of that musical party, but even better, a primary force which makes sure the party won’t be stopping any time soon. Nick Lowe, ever the insightful gentleman, is also aware of the ups and downs of the pop life, and has managed to steer clear of shipwrecks and sharks from the start, knowing it’s all part of a lifetime pursuit. “You can never plan it out,” he rightly reasons. “You just do what’s sent to you.” At My Age is special delivery rock, pop and soul, straight from the heart of one of music’s finest masters.

-reprinted from ShoreFire Media

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Blogger R Meyers obildade avkomma said...

You sure know how to pick your icons. All I knew about Lowe was that he was a great producer and (sometimes) a wicked bassplayer to my favorite Elvis Costello. I love to read more articles like this!

11:21 AM  

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