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Nick Lowe Unwraps Cool Yule Tunes

The power-pop progenitor lists non-'naff' music for a cool holiday gathering

English musician, songwriter, and record producer Nick Lowe has been performing since 1967 — both solo and in power-pop progenitors like Brinsley Schwarz, Rockpile, and Little Village.  He’s also known for his collaborations with other artists, especially Elvis Costello — for whom he produced five albums and penned the hit “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.”

Nick Lowe’s newest album is “Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family.” It’s a Christmas album – classics, covers, and originals –  all 100% saccharine-free. We asked him to provide a holiday party soundtrack of other holiday tunes we guarantee you’re not sick of yet.


Hi everyone.  This is Nick Lowe here. I’m in town to tell everyone about my latest album, “Quality Street,” seasonally themed for your convenience — which means it’s a Christmas record.

The idea to do a Christmas record was not mine – in fact I was quite snooty about it. It’s very prevalent in the UK: You know, people think that to make a Christmas record is what we call ‘naff.’ It’s like uncool, but it’s uncool like Perry Como. It’s very sort of cardigan and pipe and slippers.

Here are a few of my Christmas favorites that I don’t think are naff at all.

Ron Sexsmith, “Maybe This Christmas”

I think this is a lovely song. This is “Maybe This Christmas” by my great friend Ron Sexsmith.*

I know lots of people in the music business, and some of them, I’m not really crazy about their music.  But that is a mere detail. I really like them. But occasionally I’m a great fan of their music as well, and Ron is definitely one of those people. He’s hard to beat.

I heard Elvis Costello — who’s also a big fan of his — say something along the lines of, “He lives next to his own private tributary leading to the Melody Lake.”

Most of his stuff, it’s very accessible, but it’s got real soul, and that’s a real difficult thing to pull off – having something that doesn’t sound sappy and wet, but also can move you.

[*Editor’s Note: check the party playlist Sexsmith assembled for us last spring]

The Silvertones, “Bling Bling Christmas”

The second song is a little ska, a little reggae music. I think I’d choose this one by The Silvertones, “Bling Bling Christmas.”

I love ska and reggae, but I’m one of those people who sort of… I’ve gotta be careful what I say here, you know… but I’m one of those people who think that actually Bob Marley sort of messed up ska and reggae music. I think the same thing in a way about The Beatles as well, because they made people think that anyone could write a song. They can’t.

The Silvertones use a lot of stand-up bass, you know.  It’s got great horns — I love the horns.

Why not a reggae tune at Christmas? Just cause it doesn’t snow there, in every other respect it’s absolutely spot-on.

Johnnie Allan, “Christmastime in Louisiana”

My third dinner party record would be something a little more jumping: “Christmastime in Louisiana” by Johnnie Allan.

He’s the sort of Cajun Elvis Presley. He’s a great, great singer and a great guy.

I’m rather name dropping here with me and my fancy friends! He hasn’t been well lately. The last time I saw him was when I played down in New Orleans with my band, and now he’s on the mend.  And so… happy Christmas, Johnnie.

Nick Lowe, “Christmas at the Airport”

If I was gonna spin one of my Christmas tunes at this party, I would have to do “Christmas at the Airport” just so I could show off.

The song is a bit of nonsense really. It’s a bloke who’s trying to make it home for Christmas. His delayed flight is rescheduled and he falls asleep, and when he wakes up he finds that the whole place is closed and locked.

Actually, somebody pointed out to me the other day, they said, “Well it sounds like he doesn’t really mind.” It sounds like he’s rather pleased about it!