Nick Lowe Biography

24 March 1949, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. Lowe has for many years been held in high esteem by a loyal band of admirers aware of his dexterity as a producer, musician, vocalist and songwriter. His early apprenticeship as bass player/vocalist with Kippington Lodge, which evolved into Brinsley Schwarz, made him a seasoned professional by the mid-70s. He then started a career as a record producer, making his debut with the Kursaal Flyers’ Chocs Away, followed by Dr. Feelgood’s Malpractice. He also owns up to being responsible for an appalling novelty record, ‘We Love You’, a parody of the Bay City Rollers, recorded under the name the Tartan Horde.

Lowe formed Stiff Records with Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson in 1976 and was an early pioneer of punk music. His own singles were unsuccessful, but he was critically applauded for the catchy ‘So It Goes’, backed with the prototype punk song, ‘Heart Of The City’. He was an important catalyst in the career of Elvis Costello, producing his first five albums and composing a modern classic with ‘What’s So Funny ‘Bout (Peace Love And Understanding)’. Lowe became a significant figure in the UK, producing albums for the Damned, Clover and Dave Edmunds. In 1977, he co-founded Rockpile and also managed to join the legendary ‘Live Stiffs’ tour.

Lowe’s solo debut, Jesus Of Cool (US title: Pure Pop For Now People), was a critics’ favourite and remains a strong collection of unpretentious rock ‘n’ pop. The hit single, ‘I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass’, is still a disc jockey favourite, although the equally impressive ‘Little Hitler’ failed miserably. In 1979 he produced another important single, ‘Stop Your Sobbing’, by the Pretenders, and released another excellent collection, Labour Of Lust, which contained the sparkling ‘Cruel To Be Kind’ and ‘Cracking Up’. Lowe was indeed cracking up, from a surfeit of alcohol, as his brother-in-arms Dave Edmunds intimated in the UK television documentary Born Fighters. Towards the end of a hectic year he married Carlene Carter.

In the early 80s, as well as continuing his work with Costello, Lowe additionally produced albums with Carter, John Hiatt, Paul Carrack, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. His own recordings suffered and were rushed efforts. In 1986 he reunited with Costello for Blood And Chocolate, although his own albums were virtually ignored by the public. He returned in 1988 with Pinker And Prouder Than Previous, with contributions from Edmunds, but once again it was dismissed, making his catalogue of flop albums embarrassingly large, a fact that Lowe observes with his customary good grace and humour.

In 1992 Lowe formed a loose band with Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner and John Hiatt, known as Little Village, whose debut album received a lukewarm response. Much better was 1994’s solo effort The Impossible Bird with some of his best lyrics in years, notably ‘Lover Don’t Go’ and ‘Love Travels On A Gravel Road’. He followed this renaissance with 1998’s equally strong Dig My Mood, a dark and foreboding lyrical odyssey of infidelity and sadness. At times, on this album, Lowe sounded like a 50s lounge singer and this in turn demonstrated how his voice has actually developed and improved in recent years. 2001’s The Convincer completed Lowe’s impressive trilogy of ‘mature’ albums.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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