NICK THE NIFE & THE ABOMINABLE SHOWMAN
A Return To a More Innocent Time For Pop Legend.
While I was most certainly aware of him during the halcyon days of Stiff Records etc. I came to Nick Lowe’s music late in life but still consider myself a fan. So I was ecstatic when I heard Yep Roc were re-releasing six of his earliest albums ‘digitally’ for the very first time on July 14th; but also a tad nervous in case they hadn’t stood the test of time after 30 odd years.
As well as the six digital releases two, NICK THE NIFE & THE ABOMINABLE SHOWMAN will also get vinyl releases for all you guys with tattoos and beards….the other for will be out in a similar format over the next few months too.
The first, NICK THE NIFE barely troubled the chart compilers back in 1982; but it certainly still has it’s merits in 2017; especially the opening track Burning; which may or may not have been a template for a lot of American post-Punk/Power-Pop records that are still crossing my desk today.
Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine is quintessentially timeless British Pop music at it’s best – think The Kinks, Squeeze and even young Robbie Williams; yet this song has lay gathering dust for 35 bloody years!
Presumably the record label were targeting the ‘youth market’ with the inclusion of very innocent ‘boy meets girl and falls in love’ songs like Let Me Kiss Ya with it’s silky reggae-lite melody, Raining Raining (very Buddy Holly influenced) and Zulu Kiss which is quirkilly good fun.
Not everything is groundbreaking, but alongside ‘Stick It’ I’ve absolutely fallen in love with My Heart Hurts and Too Many Teardrops, which both could have been written with Billy Fury in mind; and if the stars had aligned in that direction could have been one last hurrah for the British Rocker who died the following January.
THE ABOMINABLE SHOWMAN which came out only a year later in 83, didn’t trouble the chart compilers at all; and doesn’t ring any bells with me at all; so I was really intrigued when I put it in the player.
We Want Action, a co-write with his then wife, Carlene Carter opens with a false start followed by Lowe saying “Hold it” before a glorious piece of 80’s Power Pop explodes from the speakers; and while I’m not 100% certain that sounds uncannily like Paul Carrack trying to steal the show on the organ; and on checking, it is.
The tone of this album is a lot ‘bigger’ and at times ‘edgier’ although Lowe’s experiments with Reggae-lite continue with Cool Reaction, which sounds like a UB40 B-Side at best.
But the good songs are very good indeed.
Time Wounds All Heels is as good as you get, with Lowe’s famous and ingenious way with wordplay shining like a set of twinkling stars for three glorious minutes; and on the rocking and rolling Saint Beneath the Paint too.
As this was the time Nick and Carlene were all ‘loved up’ there a couple of excellent love songs here, How You Talk To an Angel finds Nick crooning to and about the girl of his dreams but Man of a Fool sticks firmly to the intellectually clever template that has stood him well for forty years; and sounds as fresh today as the day it was recorded.
Two songs here really stand out Raging Eyes is quite a simple song, and could have come from his Pub Rock days and yet again precedes scores of similar songs that came out of the USA in the 1980’s!
The other is a minor Nick Lowe Classic, Mess Around With Love a song about a musician coming home from tour; but applies to a lot of people who have to work away from home for long periods of time.
There are two bonus ‘live songs’ here too; with What’s So Funny (’bout Peace, Love and Understanding)? never sounding more poignant as it does today with all the nonsense that is going on around our crazy world!
Okay; these may not finish the year in my Top 20 but they have made me smile and tap my toes while also reminding me of a glorious snapshot of time in my own life.
What’s not to like?
Released Digitally and on Vinyl July 14th 2017