Today's Artist, as the leader of the seminal pub rockers Brinsley Schwarz, a producer, and a solo artist, held considerable influence over the development of punk rock. He began a back-to-basics movement that flowered into punk rock in the late '70s. As the house producer for Stiff, he recorded many seminal records by the likes of the Damned, Elvis Costello, and the Pretenders. His rough, ragged production style earned him the nickname "Basher" and also established the amateurish, D.I.Y. aesthetics of punk. Despite his massive influence on punk rock, Lowe was never really a punk rocker. He was concerned with bringing back the tradition of three-minute pop singles and hard-driving rock & roll, but he subverted his melodic songcraft with a nasty sense of humor. His early solo singles and albums, Jesus of Cool and Labour of Lust, overflowed with hooks, bizarre jokes, and an infectious energy that made them some of the most acclaimed pop records of the new wave era. As new wave began to fade away in the early '80s, he began to explore roots rock, eventually becoming a full-fledged country-rocker in the '90s. While he never had another hit after 1980's "Cruel to Be Kind," his records found a devoted cult audience and were often critically praised. ..............N'Joy
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The son of a British Royal Air Force officer, Lowe spent part of his childhood stationed in the Middle East before his family settled in Kent. As a teenager, he played in a variety of bands, including Three's a Crowd and Sounds 4 Plus 1, with his friend, guitarist Brinsley Schwarz. In 1965, the pair formed the guitar pop band Kippington Lodge, which landed a contract with Parlophone Records the following year. Over the next four years, the group released five singles, none of which received much attention. In 1969, Kippington Lodge evolved into the country-rock band Brinsley Schwarz, who secured a record contract with United Artists the following year. At the outset of their career, the Brinsleys attempted to gain fame by holding a showcase concert at the Fillmore East, but the publicity stunt backfired, making them outcasts from the British music scene by the time their first album was released. Over the next five years, the group slowly built a following as the leading exponents of pub rock, a back-to-basics movement of good-time rock & roll that found a niche in the early '70s.
With their unassuming appearance and unpretentious music, pub rockers set the stage for punk rock in the late '70s, not only by relying on three-chord rock & roll, but also establishing a circuit of pubs to play. Of all the old-guard pub rockers, Lowe was the most significant in the development of punk rock. By the time Brinsley Schwarz broke up in 1975, he had already gained a reputation as an excellent, eccentric songwriter, and he was beginning to produce artists like Graham Parker, Dr. Feelgood, and the Kursaal Flyers. At the time, his songwriting was veering away from the country-rock and bluesy rock that distinguished his Brinsley work, and he was beginning to write inventive pop songs. Lowe wanted to leave United Artists, but the label refused to let him go, so he proceeded to record a series of deliberately unmarketable singles in hopes of getting kicked off the label. The first was "Bay City Rollers We Love You," a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the teen pop sensations credited to the Tartan Horde. Inexplicably, the single became a hit in Japan -- the Japanese branch of UA even asked for a full album -- and the label kept him as an artist. However, after "Let's Go to the Disco," credited to the Disco Brothers, UA dropped him from the label.
After leaving UA, Lowe became the first artist on Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson's fledgling independent label Stiff Records, as well as the label's in-house producer. Recorded for just 65 pounds and released in the summer of 1976, "So It Goes"/"Heart of the City" became the first British proto-punk single of the late '70s, earning glowing reviews if not sales. Lowe began producing records at a rapid rate, helming the Damned's debut album, Damned Damned Damned -- the first British punk album -- and Costello's My Aim Is True in 1977; he would produce all of Costello's albums between My Aim Is True and 1981's Trust. Lowe also produced singles by Wreckless Eric, the Rumour, and Alberto y los Trios Paranoias, as well as Graham Parker's early albums. In the summer, he became part of Dave Edmunds' touring band Rockpile, which would become his backing band within a year. He also released the Bowi EP (a play on the title of David Bowie's Low LP) in 1977, and toured with the Stiff package tour Live Stiffs before leaving the label with Costello to join Riviera's new label, Radar Records.
Lowe released his debut album, Jesus of Cool (retitled Pure Pop for Now People for its American release), in 1978, which featured his first British Top Ten hit, "(I Love the Sound Of) Breaking Glass." The single "American Squirm" was released in the fall of 1978 to little success. After producing the Pretenders' debut single, "Stop Your Sobbing," Lowe recorded his second album, Labour of Lust, supported by Rockpile; Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary was recorded at the same session. Labour of Lust featured Lowe's one big American hit, "Cruel to Be Kind," which was a reworked version of an old Brinsley Schwarz song. Between the recording and touring in 1979, Lowe married Carlene Carter, the stepdaughter of Johnny Cash; he would produce her albums Musical Shapes (1980) and Blue Nun (1981).
Lowe and Edmunds toured with Rockpile to support their respective 1979 albums, and the pair were the subject of the BBC documentary Born Fighters later that year. Rockpile became notorious for their wild, frequently drunken performances and their spirited selection of originals and obscure covers. In 1980, the bandmembers decided to record an album together, but the sessions were plagued by tension between Lowe and Edmunds. Seconds of Pleasure, the group's lone album, was released in the fall of 1980 to mixed reviews; it generated one hit single, the Eddie Phillips-written "Teacher Teacher." Rockpile split only months after the release of Seconds of Pleasure, with the remaining members choosing to support Edmunds on his solo album.
Lowe returned with Nick the Knife in February of 1982, supporting the album with a band featuring guitarist Martin Belmont and keyboardist Paul Carrack; the group was first called the Chaps, but their name changed to Noise to Go during the American tour. Nick the Knife was a moderate hit, but its follow-up, 1983's The Abominable Showman, was a flop. Lowe retaliated by shifting his music toward roots rock on his 1984 album And His Cowboy Outfit. Both Cowboy Outfit and its 1985 successor, Rose of England, were greeted with positive reviews and improved sales; the former featured his last U.K. hit, "Half a Boy Half a Man," and the latter featured his last U.S. hit, a reworking of his chestnut "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock & Roll)." In 1986, he reunited with Costello to produce Blood & Chocolate. The album was one of many records -- including efforts by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, John Hiatt, and Paul Carrack -- he produced in the '80s.
During much of the mid-'80s, Lowe suffered from alcohol abuse, but with the assistance of his old mates Costello and Riviera, he recovered and gave up looking for a crossover pop hit, concentrating on country-rock and roots rock. Pinker and Prouder Than Previous (1988) was the first indication of this shift in style, but the record largely went unnoticed. Produced by Dave Edmunds, Party of One (1990) became his first charting album since 1985. Later that year, Lowe divorced Carter. The following year, he formed the supergroup Little Village with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, and Jim Keltner; all of the musicians played on Hiatt's 1987 breakthrough album, Bring the Family. Little Village were fraught with tension, and their eponymous 1992 album and its supporting tour suffered as a result. The group disbanded upon the tour's conclusion. While he was working on material for a new album, Lowe's Brinsley Schwarz composition "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," which had previously been a hit for Costello, was covered by Curtis Stigers for the soundtrack to Whitney Houston's film The Bodyguard. The album became the biggest-selling soundtrack album in history and, in the process, Lowe unexpectedly became a millionaire from the songwriting royalties.
Lowe made a comeback in 1994 with the straight country album The Impossible Bird. Hailed as his finest effort in years, the album became a hit in the burgeoning Americana movement in the U.S., and he supported the album with his first solo tour in five years; his touring band featured former Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen. In 1998, Lowe returned with Dig My Mood, followed by a series of three albums for Yep Roc: 2001's The Convincer, 2004's live Untouched Takeaway, and 2007's At My Age. His fourth outing for the label, The Old Magic, followed in 2011 to bigger sales numbers than his other Yep Roc titles due to nearly universal critical acclaim. Two years later, Lowe returned with Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, his first collection of Christmas music. Lowe supported Quality Street with a tour where he was backed by the instrumental group Los Straitjackets. The pairing was so successful that the group cut a collection of Lowe covers called What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Los Straitjackets in 2017. That same year, Lowe's out of print albums from the '80s were reissued by Yep Roc.
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On the cover of his solo debut album Jesus of Cool, Nick Lowe is pictured in six rock & roll get-ups -- hippie, folkie, greasy rock & roller, new wave hipster -- giving the not-so-subtle implication that this guy can do anything. Nick proves that assumption correct on Jesus of Cool, a record so good it was named twice, as Lowe's American record label got the jitters with Jesus and renamed it Pure Pop for Now People, shuffling the track listing (but not swapping songs) in the process. As it happens, both titles are accurate, but while the U.K. title sounds cooler, capturing Lowe's cheerfully blasphemous rock & roll swagger, Pure Pop describes the sound of the album, functioning as a sincere description of the music while conveying the wicked, knowing humor that drives it. This is pop about pop, a record filled with songs that tweak or spin conventions, or are about the industry. Only a writer with a long, hard battle with the biz in his past could write "Music for Money" and much of Jesus of Cool does feel like a long-delayed reaction to the disastrous American debut of Brinsley Schwarz, where the band's grand plans at kick-starting their career came crumbling down and pushed them into the pubs. Once there, the Brinsleys spearheaded the back-to-basics pub rock movement in England and as the years rolled on the band got loose, as did Lowe's writing, which got catchier and funnier on the group's last two albums, Nervous on the Road and New Favourites of Brinsley Schwarz.
In retrospect, it's possible to hear him inch toward the powerful pop of Jesus of Cool on the Dave Edmunds-produced New Favourites, plus the handful of singles the group cut toward the end of their career -- it's not far cry from the Brinsleys' stomping cover of Tommy Roe's "Everybody" to the shake and pop of Jesus -- but even with this knowledge in hand, Jesus of Cool still sounds like an unexpected explosion as it bursts forth with blindingly bright colors and a cavalcade of giddy pure sound. Lowe is letting his id run wild: he's dispensed with any remnants of good taste -- well, apart from the gorgeous "Tonight," the only time the album dips into ballads -- and indulged in a second adolescence, bashing out three-chord rockers and cracking jokes with both his words and music. This reckless rock and pop works not just because the tracks crackle with excitement -- not for nothing did Nick earn the name "Basher" in this period; he cut quickly and moved on, the performances sounding infectious and addictive -- but because it's written with the skill that Lowe developed in the Brinsleys. He knows how to twist words around, knows how to mine black humor in "Marie Provost," knows how to splice "Nutted by Reality" into a brilliant McCartney parody, knows how to pull off the old Chuck Berry trick of spinning a tune into two songs, as he turns "Shake and Pop" into the faster, wilder "They Called It Rock." That latter bit picks up a key bit about Jesus of Cool -- it's self-referential pop that loves the past but doesn't treat it as sacred. It is the first post-modern pop record in how it plays as it builds upon tradition and how it's all tied together by Lowe's irrepressible irreverence. It's hard to imagine any of the power pop of the next three decades without it, and while plenty have tried, nobody has made a better pure pop record than this...not even Nick (of course, he didn't really try to make another record like this, either).
Nick Lowe - Jesus Of Cool (flac 399mb)
01 Music For Money 2:07
02 I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass 3:14
03 Little Hitler 3:00
04 Shake And Pop 3:23
05 Tonight 4:00
06 So It Goes 2:34
07 No Reason 3:34
08 36 Inches High 2:59
09 Marie Provost 2:51
10 Nutted By Reality 2:51
11 Heart Of The City (Live) 4:09
12 Shake That Rat 2:13
13 I Love My Label 3:01
14 They Called It Rock 3:13
15 Born A Woman 2:29
16 Endless Sleep 4:08
17 Halfway To Paradise 2:27
18 Rollers Show 3:33
19 Cruel To Be Kind (Original Version) 2:52
20 Heart Of The City 2:07
21 I Don't Want The Night To End 1:57
Nick Lowe - Jesus Of Cool (ogg 150mb)
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Jesus of Cool was a jukebox, spinning out a series of perfectly crafted -- and decidedly quirky and subversive -- pop singles. In contrast, Nick Lowe's second album, Labour of Lust, is the work of a bar band, in this case Rockpile, playing the hell out of the same type of songs. Naturally, the result is a more coherent sound that may be a little less freewheelingly eclectic, but it is no less brilliant. Recorded simultaneously with Dave Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary, Labour of Lust benefits from the muscular support of Rockpile, who make Lowe's songs crackle with vitality. Working primarily in the roots rock vein of Brinsley Schwarz but energizing his traditionalist tendencies with strong pop melodies, a sense of humor, and an edgy new wave sensibility, Lowe comes up with one of his best sets of songs. Not only is his only hit, the propulsively hook-laden "Cruel to Be Kind," here, but so are the rampaging outsider anthem "Born Fighter," the tongue-in-cheek, Chuck Berry-style "Love So Fine," the wonderful pure pop of "Dose of You," the haunting "Endless Grey Ribbon," the druggy "Big Kick, Plain Scrap!," and the terrific "Cracking Up," as well as his definitive version of Mickey Jupp's "Switchboard Susan." It's an exceptional collection of inventive pop songs, delivered with vigor and energy, making it one of the great records of the new wave.
Nick Lowe - Labour Of Lust (flac 218mb)
01 Cruel To Be Kind 3:29
02 Cracking Up 2:58
03 Big Kick, Plain Scrap 2:27
04 Born Fighter 3:08
05 You Make Me 1:51
06 Skin Deep 3:13
07 Switchboard Susan 3:47
08 Endless Grey Ribbon 3:15
09 Without Love 2:28
10 Dose Of You 3:19
11 Love So Fine 3:52
Nick Lowe - Labour Of Lust (ogg 77mb)
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During the late '70s, Rockpile was the touring band for both Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. Like Edmunds, the band was passionate about traditional rock & roll. Like Lowe, the band played with a reckless, trashy abandon. Driven by the powerful rhythm section of drummer Terry Williams and Lowe's bass, guitarists Billy Bremner and Edmunds were free to spit out crushing rock, blues, rockabilly, and country licks. With their fierce live energy and unpretentious rock & roll, the band fit easily into the post-punk new wave at the end of the decade.
Although they only released one album as a group -- 1980's Seconds of Pleasure -- the band provided support for most of the albums Lowe and Edmunds recorded in the late '70s. After the rushed release of Seconds of Pleasure, the band toured one last time before splitting apart, largely due to mismanagement. All of the members continued to occasionally collaborate with each other throughout the '80s.
At the time of its release in October of 1980, Rockpile's Seconds of Pleasure was viewed in some quarters as a little disappointing, which shows that there are considerable pitfalls that come with high expectations. There was a reason why the album was highly anticipated. During the late '70s, Rockpile was considered one of the great rock & roll bands, earning a reputation for blowing away every headlining act they played with, and they were just as good on record, acting as the backing band for solo albums by the group's co-leaders, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. Although they were a strong presence on the road and on the charts, they had yet to release a recording underneath the Rockpile name, so when Seconds of Pleasure finally appeared, fans and critics alike expected a rip-roaring, rampaging rock & roll record, since that's what their live performances were.
What they got was a bit different -- it was still a rock & roll record, but it wasn't down and dirty; it was bright, propulsive, and poppy, filled with big melodic hooks and polished until it glistened. Not what was expected of Rockpile in 1980, perhaps, but time has been nothing but kind to this record and, judged on its own merits, it's one of hell of a good time. At its core, Seconds of Pleasure is an invigorating blend of the strengths of Lowe and Edmunds, who may have had a shared love of pre-Beatles rock & roll -- particularly Chuck Berry and the Everly Brothers -- but had very different aesthetics. Edmunds was serious and dedicated to detail, to the point of single-handedly re-creating the sound of Phil Spector and Sun Studios on his early solo albums. On the other hand, there was a reason why Lowe was given the nickname "Basher" -- he loved to get in the studio and bash out the music, preserving the energy, passion, and humor of a band at its peak. Eventually, this caused great conflict between the two -- the band's split was anything but friendly, and a reunion for Lowe's 1990 album, Party of One, was tentative and testy -- but on albums like Nick's Labour of Lust and Dave's Repeat When Necessary (both 1979), it resulted in tremendous music. But both of those records were true solo albums, capturing the personality of each musician.
Seconds of Pleasure is a true band affair, a 12-track album split evenly between the two -- five each for Lowe and Edmunds, with guitarist Billy Bremner taking two lead vocals on "Heart" and "You Ain't Nothin' But Fine" -- and while the alternating sequence of one Nick tune, one Dave song suggests that there might have been some tension between the two in the studio, both benefit from the collaboration. At times, Edmunds' precision and devotion to the past can be a little too dogmatic and rigid, and Lowe lightens him up, while Dave brings focus and a bit of polish to Nick's charmingly ragged pop and rock. As a result, Seconds of Pleasure is both focused and loose, rocking hard but with a savvy pop sensibility. Fittingly, the songs play to Rockpile's strengths as both a pop and rock band, while offering a fitting tribute to their flair for excellent covers. Lowe unearths Gene Chandler's infectious "Teacher Teacher," while Edmunds finds Kip Anderson's "A Knife and a Fork," perhaps the only rock & roll song about overeating, revives the little-known Chuck Berry tune "Oh What a Thrill," and does a barnstorming version of Joe Tex's "If Sugar Was as Sweet as You" -- and with "Wrong Again (Let's Face It)" by Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze, he proves once again that he's a tremendous interpretive singer of new wave pop songs.
But when it comes to pop songs, Nick Lowe rules this album with six of his finest tunes. He digs out Brinsley Schwarz's old anthem "Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)" and "Fool Too Long," which he tried to give to Dr. Feelgood (here, it's sung by Dave), and both sound rowdy and right in Rockpile's hands; he gives the delightful, infectious "Heart" to Bremner, choosing to sleaze it up with the steady-grooving "Pet and Hold You." With "Now and Always" he camouflages a knowing, mordantly funny suicide note with a sighing hook worthy of Buddy Holly, and on "When I Write the Book," with its tongue-in-cheek defeated autobiography, he has a showcase for the best of his wit and songcraft. The great thing about Seconds of Pleasure is how these wonderful Nick moments dovetail with Dave's piledriving rockers, complementing each other and creating a unique rock & roll album that's inspired and informed by the past, but lives for the moment and crackles with energy. Years later, it sounds fresh, exciting, and vibrant. Rockpile didn't leave a large recorded legacy, but nearly everything they did was great, which is easier to see now, after all the initial negative reviews and dashed expectations have faded, leaving behind just the music -- and, frankly, rock & roll doesn't get better than this. Upon its original CD reissue, Seconds of Pleasure included the four-track EP Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds Sing the Everly Brothers, which was given away as a 45 with early pressings of the album. It's a wonderful and intimate live-in-the-studio concert, with Nick and Dave coming close to matching the Everlys' harmonies on versions of "Take a Message to Mary," "Crying in the Rain," "Poor Jenny," and "When Will I Be Loved."
Rockpile - Seconds Of Pleasure (flac 378mb)
01 Teacher Teacher 2:36
02 If Sugar Was As Sweet As You 2:35
03 Heart 2:38
04 Now And Always 1:58
05 A Knife And A Fork 3:10
06 Play That Fast Thing (One More Time) 4:13
07 Wrong Again (Let's Face It) 2:23
08 Pet You And Hold You 3:13
09 Oh What A Thrill 3:06
10 When I Write The Book 3:17
11 Fool Too Long 2:51
12 You Ain't Nothin' But Fine 2:54
13 Take A Message To Mary 2:28
14 Crying In The Rain 2:04
15 Poor Jenny 2:28
16 When Will I Be Loved 2:14
17 Back To Schooldays (Live) 3:31
18 They Called It Rock (Live) 3:20
19 Crawling From The Wreckage (Live) 3:07
Rockpile - Seconds Of Pleasure (ogg 132mb)
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Following the dissolution of Rockpile, Nick Lowe recorded Nick the Knife with the group's guitarist, Billy Bremner, and drummer, Terry Williams, accentuating the real reason behind the band's split -- the difference between Dave Edmunds' rigid roots rock and Lowe's carefree, funny revisionism. Nick the Knife may work in the conventions of classic rock & roll and pop, but it never sounds enslaved to his roots -- any record with a song as infectiously ridiculous as "Ba Doom" can't take itself too seriously, and that's the charm of the album. While the songs aren't as consistently strong as those on Labour of Lust, Lowe contributes a handful of classics, including "Heart," "Stick It Where the Sun Don't Shine," "Too Many Teardrops," "Burning," "Queen of Sheba," "Couldn't Love You (Any More Than I Do)," and the silly "Zulu Kiss." And even in its weakest moments, Nick the Knife has a sunny, relaxed charm that makes the album a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
Nick Lowe - Nick The Knife (flac 207mb)
01 Burning 2:04
02 Heart 3:41
03 Stick It Where The Sun Don't Shine 3:40
04 Queen Of Sheba 2:30
05 My Heart Hurts 2:40
06 Couldn't Love You (Any More Than I Do) 2:35
07 Let Me Kiss Ya 2:56
08 Too Many Teardrops 2:33
09 Ba Doom 2:19
10 Raining Raining 2:46
11 One's Too Many (And A Hundred Ain't Enough) 2:34
12 Zulu Kiss 3:22
Nick Lowe - Nick The Knife (ogg 82mb)
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