A while back, Country Standard Time asked me to review Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’ latest, Kings and Kings. I had previously bought the download of the album for my own enjoyment, so I was more familiar with it than I normally am with an album by the time came to write about it. It holds up. My review can be accessed here.
Archive for the ‘Nick Lowe’ Tag
Now that that involuntary shudder has subsided, let me continue. I was in the shower this morning, and out of Radio 2 came this terrific little slice of fandom, power pop, and breezy lyrical play.
Emma-Lee, a Toronto-based singer with whom I’ve only very passing familiarity (I have her first album…somewhere, and promise to make an attempt to locate it tonight) has released a joyously-obvious song intended, it is apparent, to attract the attention of her musician crush, Tom Petty.
She is unabashed in her intent, with her Maple Music page proclaiming:
Together, she says, the single and video are her best shot at attaining her ultimate goal of writing a song with the artist who has inspired her most.
“When it comes to my musical heroes it’s hard to choose just one who kinda sums it all up for me,” Emma-Lee says. “Some musicians I like for their voice, some for the way they play guitar, or the way they make me feel when I go to a concert. But when I think of songwriters, there is one person in particular who tops the list. That person is Tom Petty.”
I have great admiration for a fan who has the talent to be so ballsy.
The fact that the song- comprised almost entirely of Tom Petty lyrics- holds together and holds up is essential. Anyone can pen a love note to a performer they admire, and some darn good ones have been done: Nick Lowe’s “Bay City Rollers We Love You,” (two different links, the first with Nick reminiscing, and yes, I realize NL wasn’t being genuine in his tartan-love), The Steel Town Project’s “Leather and Bass (The Night Suzi Quatro Rocked Out ‘Can the Can’)”, and “Guy Clark” from Eric Burton, a clip of which can be found here ; the best that comes to mind might be Rodney Crowell’s “I Walk the Line (Revisited.)” (Two different links, a live performance (without Johnny Cash) and a lyric video).
As the previous four example prove, it takes some doing- while I personally love each of these songs, others may not find them as appealing. One needs to balance the ‘Aw, geez- ain’t they great’ with sufficient nuggets of insight to appeal to other fans, while creating something that bears repeated listening. It is a little sub-genre I quite appreciate, and one day I’ll find the list I started five or seven years back and will start assembling a couple mix CDs of them. (Which will include Tom Russell’s “The Death of Jimmy Martin”, Peter Rowan’s “A Doc Watson Morning,” and Niall Toner’s “Master’s Resting Place.”)
Emma-Lee, and her co-writers, have created a punchy little calling card. It isn’t terribly rootsy, but it is catchy and a lot of fun. You can tell she has gone ‘all-in’ on this project, having a ‘cover’ for the song that looks distinctly familiar, and a video that is chock o’ block with Petty touchstones.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Quietly Please…The New Best of Nick Lowe
It is collections such as this recent two-disc set of Nick Lowe music that keep me going to music stores in the (usually) futile search for magic.
While the selection at most area CD stores has continued to dwindle as DVDs and game system cartridges have taken over the market, one is still occasionally rewarded for taking the time to place hard earned currency on the counter to purchase the soon-to-be antiquated compact disc.
Nick Lowe has had his formidable catalogue resurrected and repackaged a number of times, and being the fan that I am I have purchased most of the collections. Upon reflection, each of the albums have served a purpose during the particular time they were discovered.
I bought 16 All-Time Lowes while attending university and while the album wasn’t my introduction to the cutting wit and word play of John R. Cash’s former son-in-law, it allowed me exposure to a number of songs I hadn’t previously encountered. Labour of Love was a favourite high school album, but at the time I hadn’t delved far enough to discover Pure Pop For Now People.
Basher: The Best of Nick Lowe was purchased on cassette while living in the fairly remote Northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche, and served to brighten many an exhausting weekend day while preparing lessons and materials in my classroom. This extensive collection, while missing many personal album favourites- “We Want Action,” “Tanque-Rae”, “Man of a Fool,” and “My Heart Hurts” as examples- captured the essence of Lowe in a more comprehensive fashion than the previous set.
I have a vague recollection of purchasing The Wilderness Years on a trip to Edmonton’s Sound Connection store, but I can’t find it on my shelves, so perhaps I only dreamed of that acquisition. I missed out on The Doings box set, but recently uncovered a copy of it. More extensive than any other Lowe collection, it boasts the bonus of many live cuts and additional rarities. Only for the real Lowe fan, the set is well worth the search.
And I won’t even start in on my Brinsley Schwarz sets.
Which brings us to Quietly Please…The New Best of Nick Lowe. With 49 tracks, this compilation ranges from Brinsley Schwarz’s 1974 take of “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding” through to cuts from 2007’s At My Age. Many favourite songs are again missed, but the majority of the essentials are either here or readily available on Basher. While I knew (and continue to know) I really did not need another Lowe set, this one attracted me because I’ve come to trust YepRoc as a label. Their reissue of Jesus of Cool was very well done, both from music contents and packaging stand points.
But, I was still going to pass dropping another $20 or so into the Lowe and Co. coffers until I encountered the impossible to ignore ‘deluxe’ package featuring a bonus DVD.
I’ve written elsewhere about my disdain for the ‘deluxe’ package marketing ploy as the results have often left me wanting. Plus, too often such packages come out a few weeks or months after I have purchased the standard set, and appear to be just another way to encourage completist fans to spend even more money. But, because the ‘deluxe’ package of Quietly Please…came out at the same time as the standard 2-disc set, I put aside my typical bias and plunked down the $30. And I couldn’t be happier with that decision.
Songs from all the albums are included, and the package also touches on Bowi, Rockpile and Little Village. Set producer Gregg Geller limited himself to songs written or co-written by Lowe, so no “Switchboard Susan” this time. Any studio remastering or tweaking that may have occurred does not interfere with the memory of many of the songs from vinyl. The tunes are arranged chronologically, and provide more than a couple hours of Lowe glory.
Not only can I not argue with the compilers music choices- hell, “Wishing Well” from Pinker and Prouder than Previous is even included- the set is beautiful to look at. A wonder to hold, even.
The quad-panel digipak unfolds to show a collage of scattered Lowe leavings including photos, ticket stubs, and pins. Photos of Lowe- from shaggy-haired pub rocker to dignified elder statesman- grace the disc trays. A well-written essay and producer notes comprise the package booklet with colour reproductions of all the album covers included. The song notes are extensive and include musician credits and chart positions.
The bonus DVD is also a greater than expected treat. The nine song videos- including the familiar “Cruel to Be Kind” and “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll),” as well as several I had never before seen, such as “Ragin’ Eyes” and “Cracking Up”- and allows one – if so inclined- to participate in an individual drinking game: each time a member of Rockpile appears, take a drink. Bonus swallows for spotting other Lowe associates, including Carlene and Paul Carrack. Several of the videos are cheesy and all are dated.
The early pieces- “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass,” Little Hitler,” and “No Reason” appear to be culled from a television performance and are, for me, priceless.
The contained live show featuring Lowe’s studio band- from Brussels and October 2007- is a lovely addition, and highlights the sparse majesty of Lowe as he approaches 60! The voice is still there, but of course not quite as spry as in the late-70s. The show is nicely shot, using a variety of camera locations and the sound is excellent. Lowe performs alone and with the band, and some of the songs featured- including “Shting-Shtang,” “Heart of the City,” and “All Men Are Liars”- are pleasant surprises.
One can download Quietly Please…The New Best of Nick Lowe if so inclined, but that would be the wrong decision. This is that not-so-rare set that calls out to be enjoyed in a non-virtual manner; you can find packages that are worth buying, but you have to look for them.
Time has been taken to produce an outstanding collection of music, beautifully housed. I’m pleased that someone- be it the folks at Proper (UK) or YepRoc- is still willing to take the time to invest in music in this manner. I doubt the collection is expected to sell more than a few thousand copies, and yet here it is- a superbly crafted project.
We owe it to ourselves to pursue such efforts.
FYI: NICK LOWE
THE BRENTFORD TRILOGY
For the first time in one collection, Nick Lowe’s classic solo albums, The Impossible Bird, Dig My Mood and The Convincer have all been assembled into The Brentford Trilogy. The three CD set includes a new book with extra photos and a new interview with Nick by Paul Gorman. This is a limited edition release and will not be available after 6/23!
*Every customer that pre-orders The Brentford Trilogy box set will get all three albums delivered digitally to their Stash immediately to start enjoying right away!