Cruel To Be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe

Da Capo. Aug. 2019. 416p. discog. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780306921957. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780306921971. MUSIC
For the past 40 years, Nick Lowe has held a unique place in popular music. He is beloved by musicians and critics as one of England’s best songwriters and producers yet known to much of the general public through only one song: 1979’s “Cruel To Be Kind.” Musician and journalist Birch (No Sleep Till Canvey Island) has been a friend of Lowe’s since the 1970s, so he may be the perfect writer for this conversational, somewhat authorized biography (Lowe reviewed and edited key passages of the book). Lowe had an unexpected windfall when Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ cover of his song “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” appeared on the soundtrack to 1992’s The Bodyguard, which sold more than 45 million copies. His story is all the more engaging for being about a talented and charming man who has quietly left an indelible mark on the world of contemporary music.
VERDICT An enjoyable and personal look at a cult hero who is more working artist than rock star.

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