Posts Tagged ‘Nick Lowe’

Doubleshot Tuesday: American Recordings/Don’t Give Up On Me

12 October 2010

[Today: Stirring comebacks...]


Johnny Cash and Solomon Burke was each a legend in his own way – Cash an internationally famous, Bunyan-esque character who popped pills and wore black for all the right reasons; Burke a soul pioneer who sported a crown and carried a scepter, and was revered by musicians and music geeks alike. Cash had his own TV show and married June Carter, daughter of country scions A.P. and Mother Maybelle Carter. Burke never quite broke through to mainstream success and worked in the family mortuary. Cash made country music and Burke made soul, but both were deeply influenced by gospel music (Burke was also influenced by country music). After decades in the business, both men saw their careers bottom out – Cash in the late 80s, Burke in the late 90s – after several uninspired, over-produced albums.

Both had their careers revived by sympathetic producers (Rick Rubin for Cash, Joe Henry for Burke) on small labels (American and Fat Possum, respectively) who realized that the biggest asset these artists possessed was the pure strength and integrity of their voices. On American Recordings (1994) and Don’t Give Up On Me (2001), Rubin and Henry put their artists in the sparest possible settings and let those legendary voices shine through. Both artists were given big assists by admiring musicians who wrote songs specifically for these albums. Cash got tunes from Glenn Danzig and Tom Waits, and threw in imaginative covers of songs by Leonard Cohen, Nick Lowe, Kris Kristofferson and others. Burke meanwhile got originals by Bob Dylan, Waits and Kathleen Brennan, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello and Lowe. Both albums touch on sin and redemption, mortality and the almighty, love gone wrong and long black trains.

These albums awoke a new generation of fans to the timeless genius of Johnny Cash and Solomon Burke, and both albums made critics wonder aloud how the music business could have so perpetually mis-used such talented voices. These stirring comebacks were arguably the best albums released in their respective years – Mojo magazine named Don’t Give Up On Me as its pick for the best album of 2001, and American Recordings is widely regarded as a modern masterpiece. The artists who contributed their talents to these albums undoubtedly did it out of love for Cash and Burke. But they also did themselves a big favor by helping to provide the industry with a pair of rock solid blueprints for how to gracefully handle living legends who’ve still got it…

Listen: Thirteen [Cash]

Listen: Don’t Give Up On Me [Solomon Burke]

Listen: Delia’s Gone [Cash]

Listen: Flesh And Blood [Solomon Burke]

On The Fence: My Aim Is True

26 May 2010

I know he’s widely considered to be one of the best songwriters of his generation, but the music of Elvis Costello leaves me unmoved. I neither like nor dislike most of his songs, they’re just something that have been around whether I want them to be or not. “I heard you’re not impressed,” he sings at one point on this album, and that about sums it up…

THUMBS UP: I appreciate Elvis Costello as a fellow music fan more than as a musician (if I may take a slight detour) – his list of 500 essential albums that appeared several years ago in Vanity Fair was the work of a total record geek, and I sought it out and clipped it, and still have it around here somewhere. His music doesn’t excite me, but it’s okay, and I see why people like it. I have a brother-in-law who thinks that caviar is a neat way to spend his money. Who am I to tell him it’s not? Personally I don’t like caviar, but enough people do that I recognize it must have some value. Same goes for Elvis Costello…

THUMBS DOWN: I like Costello’s given name – Declan MacManus – better than his stage name, and have always been rubbed the wrong way by his appropriation of Elvis Presley’s moniker. Bad form. Additionally, he always seemed like a misfit among the punks, slightly wimpy and out of place, and that relationship hasn’t helped my impression of his music. Granted, he has evolved into an elder statesman singer/songwriter, but his early albums are always recommended, and those are on Stiff Records alongside some fiery punk. All of this doesn’t have much to do with his music, but his music bores me, so the less said about that the better…

[How does Elvis Costello rate with you? Essential or zzzzzzzzential?]

Album info:

Release date
July 1977 (UK)
March 1978 (US)

Producer
Nick Lowe

Label
Stiff Records

Side One*
Welcome To The Working Week
Miracle Man
No Dancing
Blame It On Cain
Alison
Sneaky Feelings

Side Two
(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
Less Than Zero
Mystery Dance
Pay It Back
I’m Not Angry
Waiting For The End Of The World

*UK track listing

Weekend Playlist

23 November 2009

“The release date is just one day, but the record is forever.” ~ Bruce Springsteen


Townes Van Zandt | Flyin’ Shoes


Bar-Kays | Soul Finger


Ween | Chocolate & Cheese


Black Sabbath | Never Say Die!


Mylo | Destroy Rock & Roll


The Four Tops | Anthology


X | Under The Big Black Sun


Bruce Springsteen | Darkness On The Edge Of Town


Sweet | Desolation Boulevard


Jackie Wilson | My Way
[Album cover not pictured]


Nick Lowe | Pure Pop For Now People


Dead Can Dance | Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun


Lee Perry & The Upsetters | Double Seven


MC5 | Thunder Express


Neko Case | Fox Confessor Brings The Flood


Robert Johnson | King Of The Delta Blues Singers


Mark Lanegan Band | Bubblegum


Outkast | Stankonia


PJ Harvey | Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea


The Meters | Funkify Your Life: The Anthology


INXS | Underneath The Colours


Sly & Robbie | Sly & Robbie Present Taxi


Paul K & The Weathermen | Love Is A Gas

Buried Treasure: Basher

3 September 2009

[Today: Nick Lowe walks the line...]

Nick Lowe | Basher: The Best Of

“Bash it down and we’ll tart it up later” was the comment – during a session for a Dr. Feelgood album – that earned Nick Lowe the nickname Basher. As a founding member of Brinsley Schwarz, Lowe helped establish the sound of pub rock, a lively UK precursor to punk. When the nascent punk movement put his band out of business, he went solo and became the first act signed to Stiff Records, before landing the job as their in-house producer. In that capacity he produced The Damned’s debut (which was also the first UK punk album), The Pretenders’ debut, and Elvis Costello’s first five albums.

Although he was heavily involved in the formation of the punk sound, Lowe himself made music that leaned more towards pop or what would become known as ‘new wave’. Tunes like ‘Marie Provost’ and ‘Little Hitler’ were too catchy, smart, and biting to be considered punk proper. Basher, a double LP best-of, collects 25 of his finest songs, and makes a good case that he’s one of the most under-appreciated songwriters of his generation. It wisely leans heavily on his first two albums, plucking 14 of its tracks from 1978′s Jesus Of Cool and 1979′s Labour Of Lust.

An ex-son-in-law of Johnny Cash, Lowe has spent his career avoiding categorization and walking the line between fame and obscurity. Because he has enjoyed just one Top 40 hit in the United States (‘Cruel To Be Kind’), he’s at best a cult figure here. His most successful tune by far – ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding’ – was popularized by Elvis Costello. When a version of the song was included on the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, Lowe became a millionaire almost overnight, and was able to revive his flagging career. Fortunately, he’s continued to work in the margins of the music industry. “I’ve always felt quite like an outsider,” he told The Onion‘s AV Club in 2007. “I don’t really belong in the mainstream, and I quite like that.”

Listen: Heart Of The City

Listen: Born Fighter

Listen: So It Goes

Weekend Playlist

22 June 2009

Lazy weekend. Here’s the soundtrack…

Dion | Dion
Dion | Dion

Depeche Mode | Music For The Masses
Depeche Mode | Music For The Masses

Rodriguez | Coming From Reality
Rodriguez | Coming From Reality

The Headhunters | Survival Of The Fittest
The Headhunters | Survival Of The Fittest

Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

Bob Dylan | Self Portrait
Bob Dylan | Self Portrait

Terry Callier | The New Folk Sound Of Terry Callier
Terry Callier | The New Folk Sound Of Terry Callier

Afrika Bambaataa | Planet Rock: The Album
Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force | Planet Rock: The Album

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
Various Artists | The Best Of Enjoy! Records
[Album cover not pictured]

Pearl Jam | Ten
Pearl Jam | Ten

U2 | Achtung Baby
U2 | Achtung Baby

The Black Crowes | Warpaint
The Black Crowes | Warpaint

Nick Lowe | Basher: The Best Of
Nick Lowe | Basher: The Best Of

Flatt & Scruggs | Foggy Mountain Banjo
Flatt & Scruggs | Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Jefferson Starship | Blows Against The Empire
Jefferson Starship | Blows Against The Empire

Todd Rundgren | A Wizard/A True Star
Todd Rundgren | A Wizard/A True Star

Various Artists | Nigeria Disco Funk Special: The Sound Of The Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-79
Various Artists | Nigeria Disco Funk Special: The Sound Of The Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-79

The Stooges | Raw Power
The Stooges | Raw Power

Various Artists | Egotrip's The Big Playback
Various Artists | Egotrip’s The Big Playback

DJ Shadow | Endtroducing...
DJ Shadow | Endtroducing…

John Coltrane | Blue Train
John Coltrane | Blue Train

Steve Goodman | Somebody Else's Troubles
Steve Goodman | Somebody Else’s Troubles

Grootna | Grootna
Grootna | Grootna

Sonny Boy Williamson | One Way Out
Sonny Boy Williamson | One Way Out

Weekend Playlist

23 February 2009

Here’s a sampling of what was in our ears over the weekend…

Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks
Sex Pistols | Never Mind The Bollocks

Woody Guthrie | Dust Bowl Ballads
Woody Guthrie | Dust Bowl Ballads

Downliners Sect | The Rock Sect's In
Downliners Sect | The Rock Sect’s In

Prince | Purple Rain
Prince | Purple Rain

Blackalicious | Nia
Blackalicious | Nia

Fred Eaglesmith | Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline
Fred Eaglesmith | Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline

Tom Waits | Swordfishtrombones
Tom Waits | Swordfishtrombones

Willard Grant Conspiracy | Everything's Fine
Willard Grant Conspiracy | Everything’s Fine

Old & In The Way | Old & In The Way
Old & In The Way | Old & In The Way

Lifesavas | Spirit In Stone
Lifesavas | Spirit In Stone

Groove Armada | Lovebox
Groove Armada | Lovebox

Minutemen | Double Nickels On The Dime
Minutemen | Double Nickels On The Dime

Nick Lowe | Basher: The Best Of
Nick Lowe | Basher: The Best Of

The Smiths | Hatful Of Hollow
The Smiths | Hatful Of Hollow

Joe Walsh | Look What I Did: The JW Anthology
Joe Walsh | Look What I Did: The JW Anthology

Mother's Finest | Not Yer Mother's Funk: The Very Best Of
Mother’s Finest | Not Yer Mother’s Funk: The Very Best Of

Various Artists | The Rhino Disco Box
Various Artists | The Rhino Disco Box

Lightnin' Slim | Rooster Blues
Lightnin’ Slim | Rooster Blues

John Prine | John Prine
John Prine | John Prine

Cold War Kids | Robbers & Cowards
Cold War Kids | Robbers & Cowards

Little Barrie | We Are Little Barrie
Little Barrie | We Are Little Barrie

Mazzy Star | So Tonight That I Migh See
Mazzy Star | So Tonight That I Might See

Terry Reid | River
Terry Reid | River

Gene Clark | No Other
Gene Clark | No Other

Wings | Wings Greatest
Wings | Wings Greatest

Bryan Sutton | Bluegrass Guitar
Bryan Sutton | Bluegrass Guitar

Manu Chao | Proxima Estacion... Esperanza
Manu Chao | Proxima Estacion… Esperanza

Massive Attack | Mezzanine
Massive Attack | Mezzanine

Outkast | Stankonia
Outkast | Stankonia

Various Artists | Brainfreeze Breaks
Various Artists | Brainfreeze Breaks

DJ Shadow | Endtroducing...
DJ Shadow | Entroducing…

Neu! | Neu!
Neu! | Neu! 75

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble | The Sky Is Crying
Stevie Ray Vaughan | The Sky Is Crying

R.L. Burnside | Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down
R.L. Burnside | Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down

Flying Burrito Bros | Gilded Palace Of Sin
Flying Burrito Brothers | Gilded Palace Of Sin

Sidestepper | 3AM (In Beats We Trust)
Sidestepper | 3AM (In Beats We Trust)

Dino Valente - Dino
Dino Valente | Dino Valente

John Legend | Get Lifted
John Legend | Get Lifted

Weekend Playlist

2 February 2009

Here are some musical selections that rocked our weekend:

Beastie Boys | Check Your Head
Beastie Boys _ Check Your Head

DJ Mark Farina | Mushroom Jazz 6
DJ Mark Farina _ Mushroom Jazz 6

Radiohead _ OK Computer
Radiohead _ OK Computer

Sublime | Sublime
Sublime _ Sublime

Guns N' Roses | Appetite For Destruction
Guns N’ Roses _ Appetite For Destruction

David Bromberg Band | How Late'll Ya Play 'Til?
David Bromberg Band _ How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?

The Best Of
Nick Lowe _ Basher: The Best Of Nick Lowe

Q-Tip | The Renaissance
Q-Tip _ The Renaissance

Black Heat | Black Heat
Black Heat _ Black Heat

John Martyn | So Far So Good
John Martyn _ So Far, So Good

Songs From The Wild Land
Dave Alvin _ Public Domain: Songs From The Wild Land

Rolling Stones | Sticky Fingers
Rolling Stones _ Sticky Fingers

Metallica | Garage Inc.
Metallica _ Garage Inc.

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band | Live Bullet
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band _ Live Bullet

Judas Priest | British Steel
Judas Priest _ British Steel

Kinks | Face To Face
The Kinks _ Face To Face

Kings Of Convenience | Quiet Is The New Loud
Kings Of Convenience _ Quiet Is The New Loud

Spank Rock | Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo
Spank Rock _ Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo


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