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Nick Lowe (born Nicholas Drain Lowe, 24 March 1949, Walton-on-Thamesmarker) is an English singer-songwriter, musician and producer.

A pivotal figure in UKmarker pub rock, punk rock and new wave, Lowe has recorded a string of well-reviewed solo albums. Along with vocals, Lowe plays guitar, bass guitar, piano and harmonica. He is best known for his songs " Peace, Love, and Understanding" (a hit for Elvis Costello), "Cruel to Be Kind" (a U.S.marker Top 40 single), and "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass", as well as his production work with Costello.

He currently lives in Brentfordmarker, Londonmarker, Englandmarker.

Career

Lowe began his musical career in 1967, when he joined the band Kippington Lodge, with his friend Brinsley Schwarz. They released a few singles on the Parlophone record label as Kippington Lodge before they re-named the band Brinsley Schwarz in late 1969, and began performing country and blues-rock. Lowe wrote some of his best-known compositions while a member of Brinsley Schwarz, including "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding", a hit for Elvis Costello in 1979, and "Cruel to Be Kind", a solo hit for Lowe in 1979.

After leaving Brinsley Schwarz in 1975, Lowe began playing in Rockpile with Dave Edmunds. In August 1976, Lowe released "So It Goes" b/w "Heart of the City", the first single on the Stiff Records label where he was an in-house producer. The label's first EP was Lowe's 1977 four-track release Bowi, apparently named in response to David Bowie's contemporaneous LP Low. The joke was repeated when Lowe produced The Rumour's album Max as an 'answer' to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours). Lowe continued producing albums on Stiff and other labels. In 1977 he produced Dr. Feelgood's album, Be Seeing You, which included his own song, "That's It, I Quit". The following year's Dr. Feelgood album, Private Practice, contained a song Lowe jointly penned with Gypie Mayo - "Milk and Alcohol". Along with "I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass", "Milk and Alcohol" is one of only two Lowe compositions to ever reach the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart.

Lowe produced Elvis Costello's first five albums, including My Aim Is True, This Year's Model, and Armed Forces. He also produced The Damned's first single, "New Rose", considered the first English punk single, as well as the group's debut album, Damned Damned Damned.

His early 'rough and ready' production style earned him the nickname Basher (as in 'bash it out now, tart it up later'). Upon moving from Stiff to Jake Riviera's Radar and F-Beat labels, Lowe became extremely selective in his choice of production tasks.

Because the two main singers in Rockpile had recording contracts with different record labels and managers, albums were always credited to either Lowe or Edmunds, so there is only one official Rockpile album, which was not released until the waning days of the collaboration: 1980's Seconds of Pleasure, featuring the Lowe songs "When I Write The Book" and "Heart". However, two of the pair's most significant solo albums from the period - Lowe's Labour of Lust and Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary - were effectively Rockpile albums (as was Carlene Carter's Lowe-produced Musical Shapes album). Rockpile's demise was hastened by a number of conflicts between Lowe's and Edmunds' respective managers, not Lowe and Edmunds themselves.

Lowe's best-known song from this era is probably "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll)" (the verse structure and topic adapted from Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell", but adding a chorus section to Berry's verse-after-verse format). On the 1977 Live Stiffs compilation album with a pickup group called Last Chicken in the Shop, he virtually sneers out his contempt for all concerned; in 1985, fronting Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit on the album The Rose of England, he has not changed the words, but the tone is entirely different, even affectionate (the song was produced by Huey Lewis, while his band The News played on the track).

Lowe was quoted as saying that he had "escaped from the tyranny of the snare drum" in No Depression, (September-October, 2001) when explaining his move away from regular pop music that would get played on mainstream radio.

Other well-known Lowe songs include "I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass," "All Men Are Liars," and "Cruel to Be Kind", co-written with Ian Gomm and originally recorded with Brinsley Schwarz, a re-recording of which was his only U.S.marker Top 40 hit, reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1979.

In 1979, Lowe married country singer Carlene Carter, daughter of fellow country singers Carl Smith and June Carter Cash and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash. He adopted her daughter, Tiffany Anastasia Lowe. The marriage ended in the mid 1980s, but they remained friends, and Lowe remained close to the Carter/Cash family. He played and recorded with Johnny Cash, and Cash recorded several of Lowe's songs. Lowe's first son, Roy Lowe, was born in 2005.

After the demise of Rockpile, Lowe toured for a period with his band Noise To Go and later with The Cowboy Outfit, which also included the noted keyboard player Paul Carrack. Lowe was also a member of the short-lived mainly studio project Little Village with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner, who originally got together to record Hiatt's 1987 album Bring the Family.

In 1992, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" was covered by Curtis Stigers on the soundtrack album to The Bodyguard, an album that sold over 15 million copies.

A New York Daily News article quoted Lowe as saying his greatest fear in recent years was "sticking with what you did when you were famous". "I didn't want to become one of those thinning-haired, jowly old geezers who still does the same shtick they did when they were young, slim and beautiful," he said. "That's revolting and rather tragic." Rock critic Jim Farber observed: "Lowe's recent albums, epitomized by the new At My Age, moved him out of the realms of ironic pop and animated rock and into the role of a worldly balladeer, specializing in grave vocals and graceful tunes. Lowe's four most recent solo albums mine the wealth of American roots music, drawing on vintage country, soul and R&B to create an elegant mix of his own."

In 2008, Yep Roc and Proper Records released a 30th Anniversary edition of Lowe's first solo album Jesus of Cool (entitled Pure Pop for Now People in the U.S. with a slightly different track listing). The re-issue includes tracks from the British and American releases in addition to several bonus tracks. In March 2009, he released a 49-track CD/DVD compilation of songs which spans his entire career. Proper Records released it in the UK and Europe. It is titled "Quiet Please... The New Best of Nick Lowe"

To coincide with the release of this album, Nick Lowe performed a handful of selected dates in May 2009, beginning at the Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts & Literature, Fowey, Cornwall, and continuing with dates in Southampton, Birmingham, Bristol, Aberdare, The Royal Albert Hall, Cambridge, Holmfirth, The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, Liverpool and Gateshead.

In late 2009, Lowe toured Japan, New Zealand and Australia with Ry Cooder, performing a selection of songs from the back catalogue of each performer.

Discography

Nick Lowe performing with Rockpile in 1980

Studio albums



Live albums



Singles

Release date Title Chart Positions Notes
UK Singles Chart Australia Canadamarker U.S. Hot 100
1976 "So It Goes" The song was featured in the movies Rock 'n' Roll High School and Adventureland.
1976 "Keep It Outta Sight" Holland-only release.
1977 "The Bowi EP" 7" EP. Tracks: "Born a Woman" / "Shake that Rat" / "Marie Provost" / "Endless Sleep"
1977 "Halfway to Paradise"
1977 "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" 7
1978 "Little Hitler"
1978 "American Squirm" B-side featured the Elvis Costello and the Attractions version of " Peace, Love, and Understanding"
1979 "Crackin' Up" 34
1979 "Cruel To Be Kind" 12 12 12 12 This is not a typo -- "Cruel To Be Kind" coincidentally peaked at #12 in all four countries.
1979 "Switch Board Susan" 81 North American release only.
1980 Rockpile:
"Teacher Teacher"
83 31 51
1982 "Stick It Where the Sun Don't Shine" 35
1982 "Burning"
1982 "My Heart Hurts"
1982 "Half a Boy and Half a Man" 53 66
1983 "Ragin' Eyes"
1983 "Wish You Were Here" US-only release.
1984 "L.A.F.S"
1985 "I Knew the Bride" 26 77
1987 "Lovers Jamboree" US-only release.
1990 "All Men Are Liars" 76
1993 "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road"
1993 "I Live on a Battlefield"
1997 "You Inspire Me"
2001 "She's Got Soul"


EPs

  • Bowi, 7" 45 rpm (Stiff 1977)
  • Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds Sing the Everly Brothers, 7" 33⅓ rpm (F-Beat/Columbia 1980)


Compilations



Tributes

  • Labour of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe (Telarc, 2001) (features Dar Williams, Tom Petty, and Elvis Costello, among others).
  • Lowe Profile: A Tribute To Nick Lowe (Brewery, 2005) (two-disc, 30 song collection featuring Dave Alvin, Foster & Lloyd, Ian Gomm, among others).


Audio samples

References

  1. "Cruel to be kind of old" by Jim Farber, New York Daily News, June 17, 2007


External links




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