CD Review: Nick Lowe

Quiet Please... The New Best of Nick Lowe (Yep Roc)

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Nick Lowe's career transformation is complete after 40-plus years of successful tinkering. As a shuffling pub-rocker in the mid-'70s, Lowe influenced the era's blossoming punk movement with his primal productions, which married the chaos of the period with his love of the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly. Eventually, Lowe moved toward an even deeper blend of Americana on the way to his current role as soulful crooner and elder musical statesman, while consistently maintaining his status as a songwriter's songwriter.

Lowe's previous greatest-hits packages focused on compartmentalizing his work within various eras. The two-disc Quiet Please, is the most comprehensive look at Lowe's extensive catalog. The first disc begins somewhat ironically with "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," one of Lowe's most famous compositions, recorded by his first significant band Brinsley Schwarz. But it quickly moves into the brilliant late-'70s solo work that brought Lowe attention, particularly "So It Goes," a smirking take on pop stardom; "Cruel to Be Kind," the hit single that cemented his celebrity; and the one-off Rockpile project with Dave Edmunds that proved his authenticity. Wisely, Quiet Please pulls great tracks from some of Lowe's unfairly overlooked '80s albums (Nick the Knife, Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit, The Abominable Showman, The Rose of England) rather than padding the surroundings with obvious choices.

The second disc showcases Lowe's '90s work, from his other all-star supergroup Little Village to The Impossible Bird, the album that set the stage for his magnificent work over the next decade and a half, which is faithfully documented up until his latest album, At My Age. Quiet Please juxtaposes Lowe's amazing early songs with his impressive later output, providing solid evidence that genius, like wine, only gets better as it ages. — Brian Baker

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