Happy 65th Nick Lowe!

This week we indulge in a bit of nostalgia for a true rock hero, Nick Lowe. One of the central figures of New Wave music in the late ’70s, Lowe is a musician, singer, songwriter, producer who’s done great work for decades.

In 1979 Lowe wrote a song that became a big hit for Elvis Costello, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”. The track appeared on the U.S. release of Costello’s third album “Armed Forces”, one of five albums that Lowe produced for Costello. The video below includes Lowe sitting in with Costello in 1987. The lyrics are for all time.

Lowe also wrote “Cruel to Be Kind” in 1979, and it appeared on Lowe’s second album, “Labour of Lust”.  The video is apparently a reenactment of Lowe’s wedding to Carlene Cash (playing herself in the video), granddaughter of Johnny Cash.  Dave Edmunds, another icon of New Wave and bandmate of Lowe’s in Rockpile, plays the limo driver.

Fun fact: both of Lowe’s songs were among the videos played on MTV’s first day of broadcasting on August 1, 1981.

In 1987 Nick played on John Hiatt’s album “Bring the Family”, a recording that marked the beginning of the upward trajectory in Hiatt’s tremendous career. The other musicians who played on that album were guitar virtuoso and musicologist Ry Cooder, and session drummer extraordinaire Jim Keltner. That lineup came together again to release an album as “Little Village” in 1992. Here’s a performance of “Fool Who Knows” featuring Lowe on vocals.

Lowe’s latest effort, released in October 2013, was a Christmas album. His voice is clear as ever. While it’s a bit late (or early) to play Christmas music, file the thought away and just listen to a bit of this track.

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Happy Birthday, Elvis Costello!

Since his first single was released in March 1977, Elvis Costello has remained a prolific artist ranging all over the musical spectrum.   His new album “Wise Up Ghost” is due out in mid-September, and it’s a collaboration with hip hop legends The Roots.   The collaboration was conceived when Costello performed on the Jimmy Fallon late-night TV show, where The Roots gig as the house band.

The first track from the new album, “Walk Us Uptown”, will certainly whet your appetite to hear the full release.  Costello’s sinister vocals coupled with Questlove’s drums and jazzy Roots bass lines are an intoxicating mix.

The title of Costello’s first album “My Aim Is True” was drawn from the 5th track “Alison”.  While “Alison” was not a hit single at the time, it’s become a favorite in Elvis’ catalog.  Give a listen and then listen to “Less Than Zero”, his first hit from that same album.

And finally, Questlove published a memoir in June 2013 titled “Mo’ Meta Blues”. Here’s a link to the New York Times review The Big Man Under the Afro, and His Music.

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