Lonesome Onry and Mean

Lonesome Onry and Mean: How Much Does Nick Lowe Rule?

I first heard Nick Lowe - and Stiff Records mates Dave Edmunds, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury and Elvis Costello - when I lived in Europe in 1977. That Live Stiffs album not only saw me through a stint in northern Europe, it stayed with me for seven more years as I criss-crossed Asia with a Sony Walkman strapped to my head.

Along the way I picked up on Lowe's earlier band, Brinsley-Schwarz. And then came Rockpile. OMG, that was another one that I just couldn't take out of the player, literally letting that little cassette tape dig grooves in the player head.

Yep Roc's new compilation Quiet Please: The New Best of Nick Lowe, consists of 49 tracks chosen from 20 albums and is a well-chosen grouping of Lowe hits and deep tracks. The first begins with Brinsley-Schwarz's 1974 version of Lowe's "What's So Funny (About Peace, Love and Understanding)" and samples its way through Lowe's best rock material from the '70s and '80s, like "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass," "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock n Roll)," "Ragin' Eyes," "Mess Around With Love," and his Top of the Pops hit, "Cruel To Be Kind."

Disc 2 continues with a few rockers before slowing down into a sampling of Lowe's more recent, mellower solo tunes. More like Sinatra than Chuck Berry, highlights here include a killer demo called "Don't Think About Her When You Drive," soft-rockers "All Men Are Liars" and "Fool Who Knows," and sad, soulful pop songs like "I Trained Her To Love Me," "I Live On A Battlefield" and, for me, one of Lowe's greatest broken-man compositions, "Lately I've Let Things Slide."

"Smoking I once quit

Now I've got on lit, I just fell back into it

Along with my pride

Lately I've let things slide"

For lifelong Lowe lovers or those trying to hip themselves to the voluminous work of one of the most influential producers, writers and performers of the past thirty years, Quiet Please: The New Best of Nick Lowe should prove a real pleasure. I may never take this CD out of my truck again.

Author's Note: Yep Roc has also reissued three of Lowe's Nineties albums, The Impossible Bird, Dig My Mood and The Convincer, as box set The Brentford Trilogy. The label also reissued Lowe's seminal Jesus of Cool - originally released in the U.S. as Pure Pop For Now People - last year to mark its 30th anniversary.

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William Michael Smith