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Nick Lowe: “Cruel to Be Kind” and “So It Goes”

Last week, AP carried a story with the news that Nick Lowe is releasing a Christmas album with the odd name “Quality Street”:

 Nick Lowe wasn’t exactly filled with the Christmas spirit when his American record company suggested he make his first holiday album.

He’s no Scrooge. But for musicians in his native England, holiday albums aren’t the coolest thing to do. A song or two is nice, but an entire album? It has the faint whiff of desperation.

The desperation question is fair, but misplaced. Lowe, by this point, certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt. Here is a bit from his Wikipedia profile:

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.[5] The single and thus the label was funded by a loan of £400 from Dr. Feelgood’s Lee Brilleaux. 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.[6] (Continue Reading…)

Lowe was married for 11 years to June Carter’s daughter Carlene. That made Johnny Cash his step father.

Above is an acoustic version of his biggest hit, “Cruel to Be Kind.” (I invariably like acoustic versions of rock hits better than the originals.) Below is “So it Goes,” which seems to owe a bit to Warren Zevon.