Nick Lowe In The 1980's - A Greatest Hits Spotify Playlist
Recently, I read a fine article by Mark Binelli about Nick Lowe in Rolling Stone, and I urge you to take a minute and Check it out:
There was a passage in this article that ignited a spark:
For that reason, in part, there’s a timeless quality to Lowe’s repertoire; at their best, his songs achieve a level of craftsmanship that nearly erase their composer. Even limiting your choices to the Eighties, when Lowe was partying too much and making uneven records, you could make a playlist of deep cuts (“Ragin’ Eyes,” “My Heart Hurts,” “Raining Raining,” “Crying in My Sleep”) that would sound like a lost greatest-hits album unearthed in a vault.
This, of course, got me thinking about a playlist of Nick Lowe songs from the 1980’s. I went back and checked out the five records Nick released in the 80’s (Party Of One was released in 1990) and had no trouble picking out a stellar, greatest-hits style playlist. Here are the albums and the songs I’ve chosen.
Nick The Knife (1982) (Rockpile’s Dave Edmunds and Billy Bremner play on this record)
Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine
Queen Of Sheba
My Heart Hurts
One’s Too Many (And A Hundred Ain’t Enough)
The Abominable Showman (1983)
Man Of A Fool
Mess Around With Love
Nick Lowe And His Cowboy Outfit (1984)
Half A Boy And Half A Man
God’s Gift To Women
The Rose Of England (1985)
The Rose Of England
I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll)
Pinker And Prouder Than Previous (1988)
Crying In My Sleep
Love Gets Strange (John Hiatt)
I’ve arranged the songs in chronological order as I think there’s a great flow to them as is. Nick was in the band Rockpile (with Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner, and Terry Williams) in the late 1970’s. This band recorded two solo LP’s for Dave Edmunds, Nick’s Labor Of Lust (his second solo album) and the famous Seconds Of Pleasure (Under the Rockpile name). Rockpile was a fearsome band with strong pub-rock, power-pop, and rockabilly roots.
The Nick The Knife sessions are practically a Rockpile record, and they have that feel. ‘Burning’ feels like it could be on Nick’s Labor Of Lust (the 1979 masterpiece featuring his break-through single “Cruel to Be Kind”), and ‘Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine’ sounds like a Dave Edmunds song. I didn’t even include Lowe’s remade version of ‘Heart,’ a fantastic tune first featured on Rockpile’s Seconds Of Pleasure LP. ‘Queen Of Sheba’ is a great timeless change of pace that very much reminds me of Lowe’s ‘When I Write The Book.’ ‘My Heart Hurts’ is a classic tune written with Nick’s then-wife Carlene Carter. Carter is from songwriting royalty herself, daughter of June Carter Cash, perhaps best known as co-writer of “Ring of Fire.” It’s a sly, clever, catchy piece of pop that sneaks up on you. “Raining Raining’ hits that top level of craftsmanship that Mark Binelli discussed in his article, this is a sharp take on a Smokey Robinson styled song. ‘One’s Too Many (And A Hundred Ain’t Enough)‘ was written with The Fabulous Thunderbirds Kim Wilson, and has that snakey, South of the Border-via-Sun-Records feel.
The Abominable Showman is considered one of Nick’s lesser albums, with some dated production values (the 80’s!) and Nick haphazardly adopting a stronger love of country idioms. Still, ‘Raging Eyes’ is as good of a bouncy house of a tune as you’ll hear. ‘Man Of A Fool’ adopts many of the Motown/Four Tops tricks as ‘Raining Raining’ with another great lyric. It’s a stunningly good song. ‘Mess Around With Love’ is another timeless classic in the vein of ‘Queen Of Sheba.’
Nick Lowe And His Cowboy Outfit is a strong outing with nods to roots rock, played by a band of pub-rock veterans including Billy Bremner (Rockpile), Martin Belmont (The Rumour) and Paul Carrack (Ace, Squeeze). ‘Half A Boy And Half A Man’ is a Tex-Mex roller rink stomper, bubbly and infectious. ‘God’s Gift To Women’ is a pop amalgam of honky tonk and pure pop ‘Maureen’ is another welcome throwback to the Rockpile/Labour Of Lust sound.
The Rose Of England is somewhat of a pop triumph, including great takes of John Hiatt’s ‘She Don’t Love Nobody,’ Elvis Costello’s ‘Indoor Fireworks,’ and Moon Mullican’s rockabilly classic ‘7 Nights To Rock.’ The title track ‘The Rose Of England’ features a mature pop craftsmanship that almost loses the Nick Lowe trademarks. A remarkable song. ‘I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll)’ unleashes an undeniable boogie woogie that is a staple of every wedding in the UK ( and many in the US).
Pinker And Prouder Than Previous is maybe the weakest of the 80’s records, as it doesn’t have a lot of Nick songs on it, containing mostly covers and collaborations. ‘Crying In My Sleep’ is a bleary, teary eyed ballad that sounds like is was recorded after a long night. There is an astounding take of John Hiatt’s ‘Love Gets Strange’ that is given an early Merseybeat treatment, full of twisting chord changes. It’s still one of my favorite Nick recordings. ‘Lover’s Jamboree,’ written with Paul Carrack, serves up an upbeat honky tonk, funky and rocking - the perfect way for Nick to end the 1980’s.
So there’s my Nick Lowe playlist - Greatest Hits of the 1980’s.Thanks to Mark Binelli. 17 songs (one cover tune), 53 minutes. None better. Pure pop for now people.
Here is the link to the Spotify Playlist: