Nick Lowe & Sinead O’Connor Review

Jim and Greg talk to English singer, songwriter and producer Nick Lowe about his long career—from the punk and new wave scenes in the ‘70s to his most recent album The Old Magic. Plus, they review the new album from controversial Irish singer Sinead O’Connor.

main image
Download Subscribe via iTunes

Music News

Star athletes and star musicians have a lot more in common than you might think. No, we don’t mean the abundance of tattoos. Both fields are high-risk, high-reward and both pro-players and rockers have a short shelf life. Now, the NFL is helping its athletes transition out of football and into the music industry. The player engagement division has paired with New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music for the Business of Music Boot Camp. As Greg explains, the list of athletes who have launched successful recording careers is pretty short. But, Jim suggests these men may fare better behind-the-scenes. Perhaps they can share the NFL’s secrets to making a profit. After all, no industry is better at protecting its copyright.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has unveiled a program to let some inmates carry mp3 players. It’s first being tested in West Virginia, but should go nationwide this year. The devices will be sold in prison commissaries, but prisoners won’t have access to everything. Strictly forbidden will be explicit tracks, and Jim and Greg imagine, anything about tunneling out of jail. So they make a couple of suggestions. Greg would like The ZombiesCare of Cell 44 to get him through the lonely times. And Jim goes with the protest anthem, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, by the Animals, written by Mann & Weil.

Nick Lowe

This week Jim and Greg are joined by the Jesus of Cool, Nick Lowe. He’s been writing, recording and producing music for over 40 years, and his latest release The Old Magic harkens back to his Pub Rock roots. Lowe began playing in the bands Brinsley Shwartz and Rockpile before going solo and producing. But, his songs are probably even better known than he is. There’s Cruel to Be Kind, I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass, and (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding, which was made famous by Elvis Costello. Lowe admits that Costello’s version is more earnest than his own, and generally he favors humor over seriousness. Check out his in-studio performance and video.

How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? Sinead O'Connor

How About I Be Me (And you be you)?

Sinead O’Connor debuted in the late ‘80s with two commercial and critical hits: The Lion and the Cobra and I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. But since she infamously burned a picture of the Pope on SNL, the Irish singer-songwriter’s career has been as much about her personal troubles as her music. Through four marriages, drug addiction, and mental illness, she’s remained prolific, releasing albums as diverse as 2002’s Sean-Nos Nua (a tribute to Irish folk music) and 2005’s Throw Down Your Arms (drawing on Rastafari traditions). Her latest, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? is a characteristically personal album, Greg says, but with a pop spin. She’s poking fun at herself, and most importantly, doing it within the context of some surprisingly melodic songs. But Greg still can’t buy into the more political tracks. She’s confusing rants for songs, so he has to give How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? a Burn it rating. Jim thinks that’s a bit harsh. The new record is brilliant, he says...Sinead’s best since 1994’s Universal Mother. The political material doesn’t overshadow the record, which is first and foremost about love and the meaning of commitment. Sinead’s voice stands undiminished, and her witty, lighthearted lyrics don’t hurt either. Jim says Buy it.

Greg

Talking to Nick Lowe got Greg thinking about all things seventies - in particular, Lowe’s work as a producer during that decade. Few people realize Lowe worked with The Damned, the first UK punk band to put themselves on the map (take that Sex Pistols!). Where another producer might have been tempted to clean up the band’s sound, Lowe kept The Damned as dirty and gritty on record as they were live. And nowhere do you hear that better, Greg insists, than on the band’s first single, 1976’s New Rose. Rat Scabies’s drums sound huge, and Brian James’s guitar is so distorted it sounds defective. This, Greg says, is what punk sounds like to this day, and Lowe was onto the trend before anyone else.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!