Friday, April 3, 2009

My Lowe-down on the new Nick Lowe Best Of disc

Quiet Please...The New Best Of Nick Lowe {Yep Roc}
• by michael berick
Quiet Please is, as it subtitle indicates, not Nick Lowe's first Best Of (that's 16 All Time Lowes), his biggest Best Of (The Doings), his most hits-packed Best Of (Basher), or his most rarities-filled Best Of (The Wilderness Years). But this two-disc collection is his most comprehensive Best Of, and, perhaps, his best Best Of. Its 49 tracks follow Lowe's entire solo career, along with stops at various group efforts (from Brinsley Schwarz through Rockpile to Little Village) along the way.

The compilation commences with the rousing Brinsley gem "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding" (later co-opted by Elvis Costello and Curtis Stigers). Disc one cherry-picks Lowe's favorite tunes from Pure Pop For Now People through Pinker And Prouder Than Previous. The second disc contains his more recent, "quieter" work. The collection's chronological nature winds up showing a man evolving from clever youth to introspective middle age.

As with any collection, there are quibbles over song choices. Only one Brinsley tune (and, less disappointingly, one from Little Village) and two Rockpile tracks appear. Completists might grumble over the lack of previously unreleased cuts, and the rarities are few and not particularly revelatory. The Bowi EP obscurity "Endless Sleep" might be a precursor to his current sound, but it's wedged amidst more brightly colored Pure Pop pleasures.

Minor qualms aside, this retrospective wonderfully reveals Lowe's many musical moods (from silly to serious, from rock to country to soul and many combinations within those), and serves as a terrific reminder of what a master songcraftsman he is.

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