To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.
2001 – #8. Nick Lowe – The Convincer
Before this record, I knew Nick Lowe as 1) Producer of early Elvis Costello and others, 2) the writer of Peace, Love and Understanding and 3) the once husband of Carlene Carter. After this record, I became a die-hard Lowe-aphile, grabbing anything I can. The Convincer is probably still my fave Nick Lowe album.
Sometime in 1994, Lowe took stock on his life, and carved himself a new sound. The bratty, witty, new wave he helped make famous was gone. He was getting older, and in came a more relaxed sound. A mix of jazz, soul, doo wop, brill building economy and a dash of country. Above it is his trademark wit, no longer used to show how clever Mr Lowe is, now to make his point even more subtle.
That 1994 record, the Impossible Bird, became the first part of a trilogy of similar sounding records – Dig My Mood and this one, the Convincer. All three are now available in a box set called the Brentford Trilogy. I would put the 2007’s At My Age, his last album, in the same boat.
The self proclaimed Jesus Of Cool definitely remains cool over these records. The Convincer has opens with Homewrecker, a lovely soul ballad accusing a woman of leading him astray and leaving him with nothing. Lately I’ve Let Things Slide is one of his masterpieces – so short and economical, it contains some of his finest lyrics:
Smoking I once quit
But now I’ve got one lit
I just fell back into it
In just three lines, you know exactly where this man is, and how he feels about himself.
Basically, this is the TV show Mad Men as an album. The long hard upbringing of of the man in Indian Queens shares the same theme as that show – how to be a man, when the world is set against you. It’s an album about the losers and the heartbroken. Cupid Must Be Angry, Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart… all sound like forgotten soul classics.
But there is hope at the bottom of the glass. Has She Got A Friend? is sung from the view of a lonely man, but one who has not given up hope. In Poor Side Of Town, the girl returns to our working class hero, after not making it with some city man. And as much as a 50 something year old man can, he ends the album on s seductive note on Let’s Stay In And Make Love.
For me, I worked out most of these songs immediately on the guitar when I got this record. I often return to them – there’s usually a lyric I hadn’t noticed, some cool guitar line I’ve missed. One day I will be bored of the energy of rock n roll and this will be it for me, this so cool, so smokey sound.
It’s a tribute to the songwriting that many songs from the Brentford Trilogy has been covered already (most famously the Beast In Me by Johnny Cash). I think all 3 are essential. I loved how last year’s Quiet Please, the New Best Of Nick Lowe had one whole disc devoted to this part of his career. They are already classics.