Recognized for producing of some of the greatest records of the punk era (Elvis Costello, The Damned, the Pretenders), Nick Lowe left the most indelible mark on his own records. Witness Yep-Roc's recent 30-year anniversary edition of Pure Pop for Now People. In 1978, dressing up like the Riddler was no affectation for Lowe, who, decades before sampling, was hilariously guilty of sampling entire songs. His master thievery of Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" for his Castro-castrating anthem "Nutted by Reality" and the blatant appropriation of Creedence's redemptive "Green River" for his vindictive "Stick It Where the Sun Don't Shine" set the bar.
Yet there was always a true heart beating underneath even the crassest of records, like The Abominable Showman, and it became ever more apparent when he morphed into a roots rocker who combined soul and country like a latter day Flying Burrito Brother. He still retained a sly sense of humor, as evidenced by the 1990 classic "All Men are Liars" which predicted getting "Rick Rolled" as a national annoyance. ("Sample lyric: "Do you remember Rick Astley? He had a big fat hit; it was ghastly!") At My Age, his other recent Yep-Roc album, contains the most clear-eyed and mushy love songs of his career ("A Better Man," "Hope for Us All) as well as his most sinister, "I Trained Her to Love Me," which bastardizes Elvis Presley's "I Was the One" into a cruel-to-be-crueler Lothario confessional: ("This one's almost done/Now to watch her fall apart/I trained her to love me/So I could go ahead and break her heart"). Nyaa ha ha!