Ian Christie on Nick Lowe
I’d almost forgotten about the British singer and songwriter Nick Lowe, who had three years of fame in the late 70s as a pioneer of new wave pop, producing punks, playing in pubs and hitting the charts now and then. He wrote two of the best ever pop songs: What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding? and Cruel to be Kind. The latter may be the perfect post-Elvis pop song.
Then I came across a review of his recent albums and my interest was rekindled. Nick is now 64, snowy of hair and gentle in demeanour, and you’d never guess this was the man who produced the first hits of punk rock. Lowe has reinvented himself since the mid 1990s as a classic songwriter, drawing on country and western, pre-Elvis pop and the Great American Songbook. Anyhow, do yourself a favour and buy Nick Lowe albums this Christmas. He’s made it easy by releasing a quirky and rootsy Christmas record of his own – Quality Street – but my tip is 2011’s The Old Magic, a wonderful collection of songs that echo the great tunes and performers of the pre-Beatles period, from lounge-bar crooners to Johnny Cash. Few things have given me more pleasure in 2013 than listening to this CD, and especially to Lowe’s exquisite broken-heart song I Read A Lot.
Robert Stanier on the class system in England