Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rock of Ages: Nick Lowe - "So It Goes" (1978); Elvis Costello & The Attractions - "What's So Funny Bout (Peace, Love & Understandin') (1979)

Nick Lowe isn't really a household name these days. But his contributions to the pub-rock and new wave scene can be seen in multiple places. His own career is filled with some fantastic tracks that are as catchy as the rest. For the first half of this entry, we will take a look at his own career and the second half will focus on his fantastic song he wrote for Elvis Costello, another budding and more well known purveyor of the new wave roots rock scene.

Nick Lowe's album, Jesus of Cool, is chock full of hooky, guitar anthems and as the album cover shows, quite fun and guitar oriented pub rock. The killer track "So It Goes" is the most memorable and catchy of them all. It's a rollicking jam that has some jangly guitars and fever pitched singing. It's a perfect song for driving to and it's full of great hooks. Lyrically it's pretty ambiguous but it definitely has the air of rebellion and snarky politicism almost poking fun at the counter revolution of punk rock at the time. "The way it's going, no one knows" is a pretty great slogan for the times as things were all over the place in the world. It's more or less an anthem for anti-rebellion. So it goes... let's fucking ROCK!

In a similar fashion, Nick Lowe wrote "What's So Funny Bout (Peace, Love & Understanding.)" A similarly themed song with equally catchy hooks and riffy guitars. Lowe originally recorded it in 1974, but in the hands of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, it became something special. Appearing on the US version of Armed Forces, arguably Costello's best record, the song was produced by Lowe and has all the trappings of his sound. Elvis Costello isn't ripping off of Nick Lowe as the Attractions hold their own as a great supporting group, but the song is inherently Nick Lowe's. It's a fantastic record and Elvis Costello really revs up the delivery. I don't mean to short change Elvis Costello here. The man knows how to rock, but it's in Lowe's witty lyrics and fantastic riff writing that we get such a stellar song.

Up Next: Kraftwerk: Need I say more?

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