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Party of One
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Party of One
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Party of One finds our hero signed by A&R legend Lenny Waronker to Warner Brothers Records. The personnel were drawn from Nicks bandmates on 1987s John Hiatt masterpiece, Bring the Family (Lowe on bass, Jim Keltner on drums and Ry Cooder on guitar) combined with the twin heads of the band The Moonlighters (Austin DeLone-- ex of Eggs Over Easy and Bill Kirchen-- Original Lost Planet Airman and twang kingpin). Nick brought in Dave Edmunds to produce and play even more guitar. They rip through a fantastic batch of original songs highlighted by All Men Are Liars and Whats Shakin on the Hill which are still staples of Nicks live show. This strong effort led into the Little Village project and can be considered the final chapter in the first half of Nicks career.
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This CD is eminently listen-able, particularly on one of those roll-down-the-windows driving days.
Some of Nick's hooks are as good (i.e. "brilliant") as they have ever been, as in "You got the look I like." Plus, as has been said earlier, you have two guitar masters working on this album: Cooder and Edwards.
Nope, not his best work, and there are even a few times you'll hit the "skip" button after you've listened through it once or twice, but the fact that you keep playing those other 9 songs, or that you can't shake one from your head hours later, should tell you something.
This is NOT a rockabilly CD. Jim Keltner is NOT a Rockabilly drummer. He has played every style known to musicianhood. This record deftly crosses genres. Take, for example, the much loathed "Shting-Shtang." Rockabilly? It's pure testifying Gospel music. I've been to meetings; this is what they sound like. And as such, the secular nature of the lyrics is quite ironic. "You Got the Look I Like"? Roots Rock and Roll, but nobody ever once used that beat in Rockabilly. "What's Shakin' on the Hill" is in the tradition of the poor boy out. Gene Pitney. The Four Seasons. Melodically closer to Country, but lyrically part of a valued tradition of class distinction in America, particularly. And if somebody has issues with the autobiographical nature of "Gai Jin Man," I would suggest you build a bonfire and burn all your Chuck Berry records and toss in Plastic Ono Band just for fun. Well, toss in all of John Lennon while you are at it.
I find the nagging criticisms of this record preposterous. Like "Abbey Road" doesn't have some just for fun songs? An undersea garden, anyone? Serious thought there. Sgt. Peppers doesn't have a song about a meter maid? Why didn't Shakespeare think of this?
To newcomers, I can recommend ALL of Nick's CDs, and this one no less. Sure, it's got a bigger sound and some toss offs to amuse, but in the words of the great one himself, SO WHAT?
"Party of One" is interesting in where it comes in Lowe's career. He's well off his high-point (post-Rockpile and his high-profile solo efforts), and I think this album finds him in a slightly more reflective groove, but with his wit in full flower. There's the fun-outrageousness of "The Look I Like", "(I Want To Build A) Jumbo Ark", "Refrigerator White", and "Shting-Shtang", but there are hints at the autobiographical in "Gai-Gin Man" and "Rocky Road", as well as slice-of-life stuff in the chilling "Who Was That Man?" and the seemingly laconic "What's Shakin' On The Hill". Behind it all is a feel of "seasoning", of a grown-up wise-guy (made even more clear in subsequent albums), musically sharp as ever, but with a broader, deeper perspective, which, interestingly enough, makes me enjoy the funny bits all the more.
I regard "Party of One" as the most enjoyable and balanced of Lowe's output up to this point. A master storyteller with musical chops to burn.