Ever the one for a pithy, self‑deprecating put-down, Lowe himself has described his post-Rockpile 80s output as “the wilderness years”. And while none of these six reissues can lay claim to be cherished masterpieces like Jesus Of Cool or, in more recent times, The Convincer, each one is a healthy trough of pop worth dipping into again.
Nick The Knife and The Abominable Showman (both 6⁄10) are scattergun affairs whose shortcomings are overshadowed by great charm (My Heart Hurts, Time Wounds All Heels). However, … And His Cowboy Outfit (8⁄10) finds The Artist Formerly Known As Basher in full possession of his faux Fabs faculties on Half A Boy And Half A Man. Bonus tracks are few and far between across all six discs, but here the swaggering cover of Leroy Van Dyke’s Walk On By is an early pointer to the elder statesman country gent of Lowe’s most recent recordings.
He revisits I Knew The Bride (a hit for Rockpile mucker Dave Edmunds) with panache on The Rose Of England (8⁄10), although it’s the album’s title track that stands out, an evocative modern-day folk song Richard Thompson would have eaten his beret to have written. Pinker And Prouder Thank Previous (7⁄10) is frustratingly haphazard, largely salvaged by previously unheard songs from the pens of John Hiatt and Graham Parker.
But it’s Lowe’s own eloquent writing that stirs the soul on Party Of One (8⁄10), his wit in full flight on Jumbo Ark and All Men Are Liars. Pick of the bunch, though, is the country shuffle mournfulness of What’s Shakin’ On The Hill, a paean to outsiders that pretty much defines Nick’s own place in the pop firmament.