The New Best of Nick Lowe
- Buy the CD
Reviewed by Jeff Giles
As anyone who’s ever listened to a Nick Lowe album could tell you, his catalog’s tendency to fade in and out of availability has nothing to do with the quality of his work. Lowe has had an extremely varied career – he surfaced in the ‘70s as a member of pub rock legends Brinsley Schwarz, quickly made a name for himself as a producer for acts as varied as the Damned and Elvis Costello, spent the ‘80s fusing New Wave and roots rock with a string of smart, commercially neglected records, and finally settled into his musical dotage in the early ‘90s by shifting smoothly into a more sedate country-soul sound – but he’s never released a bad record; even 1988’s poorly titled Pinker and Prouder than Previous is really only a letdown by Lowe’s own high standard.
It’s for this reason that the Lowe fan can listen to all 49 tracks of Quiet Please… and come away quibbling with the "best of" portion of the title. No "Time Wounds All Heels"? No "Man of a Fool"? And what about Lowe’s transcendent covers of songs like "She Don’t Love Nobody" or "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road"? You get the idea. But there’s more behind these exclusions than the size limit of a CD – compilation producer Gregg Geller wanted to focus on Lowe’s original material, and also made an effort to draw a straight line between his earlier, punkier stuff and his more gentlemanly current sound; as a result, unlike 1990’s Basher: The Best of Nick Lowe, this set highlights Lowe’s softer side, both as a younger artist (1978’s "Endless Sleep") and elder statesman (2001’s "Let’s Stay in and Make Love"). Despite the overlap between the two compilations, Quiet Please… actually makes for a more contemplative counterpoint to the wall-to-wall pop of Basher.
Of course, nobody needs two Nick Lowe best-ofs, and actually, pretty much anyone who’s interested in buying his music probably already has a fairly extensive collection – which is probably why the Lowe box, The Doings, dropped out of print so quickly, and why Columbia only sells Basher through digital outlets; these sets are nice gateways to Lowe’s extensive catalog, but people stopped walking through that gate a long time ago. To Yep Roc’s credit, Quiet Please… doesn’t come with any new cuts to entice the faithful; although there is a deluxe edition that comes with a live DVD, you can get it for $17 through Amazon, which is about as much as you’d pay for the DVD even without two CDs of music you already own attached to it. And if, for some reason, you don’t own any of these songs, and you consider yourself a fan of intelligent, dryly humorous pop music, then just stop whatever you’re doing and order yourself a copy of this compilation. Hurry, before it goes out of print.