These days Americans tend to assume we invented the concept of “indie rock” in the 1980s, but the British arguably got there first: in the early and mid-70s Virgin was a hippie enterprise devoted to the freakiest of space rock, and as early as 1976 Stiff Records was cranking out unabashed neotrad pub rock alongside the latest in punk. Producer-singer-songwriter Nick Lowe cofounded Stiff, and he’s still in the trenches today–his latest, The Convincer, was released by the North Carolina-based indie Yep Roc. If any major labels out there were willing to do more than pay lip service to the honorable long haul, they’d doubtless find that Lowe’s seductive, sexy, and staunchly song-driven thinking man’s music would sell, even sell briskly; as it is, his records, like so many others meant for the masses, only get heard by the dedicated few who search them out (but that’s you, right?). From his early-70s days in Brinsley Schwarz through his years of production work with the likes of the Damned, the Pretenders, Elvis Costello, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and John Hiatt, as well as on his stream of solo albums, Lowe has always displayed varying degrees of regular-bloke genius. Though new songs like “Homewrecker” and “Let’s Stay In and Make Love” speak wisely of heartbreak and middle-aged lust–and though “Indian Queens” is a fairly straightforward on-the-road-again toe tapper–he still puts everything across with a wry, dry-eyed lucidity that befits the man who wrote “Cruel to Be Kind,” “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass,” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Tuesday, July 30, 8 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.