Cruel to be kind in the right measure
Cruel to be kind it's a very good sign
Cruel to be kind means that I love you
Baby, you've gotta be cruel to be kind"
Nicholas Drain Lowe (born 24 March 1949) is a British Singer-Songwriter who has been active since the late 1960s. His first group, Kippington Lodge, evolved into pub rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz. After they broke up in the mid 1970s, Lowe began his solo career, which continues to this day. He's also worked as a Record Producer for Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, The Damned, Pretenders and others, a career which earned him the nickname "Basher" due to his habit of recording quickly and without production tricks, wherein he would instruct bands to "bash it out, we'll tart it up later". He is best known, at least in the USA, for his song "Cruel to Be Kind", in the UK for "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass", and, indirectly for Costello's Cover Version of the Brinsley Schwarz song "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." He also worked with Dave Edmunds on several of his albums and in the band Rockpile, but personality clashes between the two meant Rockpile disbanded after releasing one album, although they have remained friends outside of the studio.
His early music career is best described as Power Pop catchy hooks meets New Wave energy, hilarious, frequently sarcastic or surreal lyrics and a cheerfully irreverent approach towards songwriting, especially manifested through fondness for playing with pop music conventions. Starting with The Impossible Bird, he's transitioned into a more reflective, less energetic style more heavily inspired by Country Music, classic pop and Soul.
Not to be confused with the long-standing movie reviewer in Interzone magazine, who is a completely different Nick Lowe.
- Jesus of Cool (1978)note
- Labour of Lust (1979)
- Nick the Knife (1982)
- The Abominable Showman (1983)
- Pinker and Prouder Than Previous (1988)
- Party of One (1990)
- The Impossible Bird (1994)
- Dig My Mood (1997)
- The Convincer (2001)
- At My Age (2007)
- The Old Magic (2011)
- Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family (an album of Christmas Songs) (2013)
- Seconds of Pleasure (1980)
With Little Village:
- Little Village (1992)
Pure Tropes For Now People:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Pinker and Prouder Than Previous
- Adolf Hitlarious: "Little Hitler" has Lowe comparing Jake Riviera, his notoriously thuggish manager, to the Fuhrer.
- Affectionate Parody: Of Paul McCartney in "Nutted By Reality". "Rollers Show" pokes fun at the Bay City Rollers, but is noticeably more snarky.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Several of Nick's songs take shots at record label executives and the failure of Brinsley Schwarz, such as "I Love My Label", "Music for Money", and "Shake and Pop" and its alternate version "They Called It Rock".
- Black Comedy: "Marie Provost", detailing the drug overdose of the silent film actress Marie Prevost and her subsequently being eaten by her dog.note
- Bowdlerize: Lowe's solo debut album, released in England under the title Jesus of Cool, was originally released in the U.S. as Pure Pop For Now People.
- Cool Old Guy: The Jesus of Cool Old Guys, in fact.
- Cover Album: Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds Sing The Everly Brothers, whose covers were originally issued as a bonus EP for the Rockpile album Seconds of Pleasure.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Well, duh. It's only the name of his biggest hit, after all.
- Genre Roulette: Lampshaded by the cover of Jesus of Cool.
- Liar's Paradox: "All Men Are Liars" informs the listener emphatically that "all men are liars, and that's the truth".
- Power Pop: One of the standard bearers.
- Protest Song: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding". The original Brinsley Schwarz version was an Affectionate Parody of the genre. Elvis Costello's version wasn't.
- Punk Rock: His early Pub Rock recordings and "bash it out now, tart it up later" production style were important in its development in Britain, and he produced the first British Punk Rock single and album.
- Rated G for Gangsta: Nick commented that he deliberately changed his style because he didn't want an inappropriate Strictly Formula reputation, saying "I didn't want to become one of those thinning-haired, jowly old geezers who still does the same shtick they did when they were young, slim and beautiful. That's revolting and rather tragic."
- Record Producer: A respected producer in Punk Rock and New Wave Music, working at the helm for acclaimed singles and albums by Elvis Costello, The Damned and Pretenders among many others.
- Rock Star Song: "They Called It Rock" (aka "Shake and Pop"), about the rise and fall of a One-Hit Wonder.
- Self-Deprecation: Some of his albums were named after punny plays on certain idioms, like Labour of Lust and The Abominable Showman. At My Age and Quiet Please: The Best of Nick Lowe also lampshade his stylistic change. The Greatest Hits Album titled 16 All-Time Lowes is another example.
- Silly Love Songs: "Cruel To Be Kind" and "I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll)" are both subversions of this trope.
- Springtime for Hitler: Lowe wrote "Bay City Rollers, We Love You" to be as bad as possible in the hopes that his label, United Artists Records, would drop him. Instead the song turned out to be so catchy that it was released worldwide. It flopped everywhere except Japan.
- Supergroup: Besides Rockpile, Little Village teamed Lowe with Ry Cooder, John Hiatt and veteran session drummer Jim Keltner. They'd previously worked together on Hiatt's album Bring the Family.
- Take That!: To Rick Astley in "All Men Are Liars"."Does anyone remember Rick Astley?
He had a big fat hit, it was ghastly
He said 'I'm never gonna give you up or let you down'
Well I'm here to tell you that Dick's a clown!"
- Tsundere: "Cruel to be Kind".
- With Friends Like These...: From "Cruel to Be Kind": "Though you say you're my friend, I'm at my wits' end."