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Nick Lowe - Quality Street

  by Andy Cassidy

published: 14 / 10 / 2013

Nick Lowe - Quality Street
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Surprising but unnecessary collection of covers on early Christmas album from Nick Lowe

So, why am I listening to a Christmas record in October? Well, it’s Nick Lowe’s Christmas record, so, in my book, that makes it okay. As the man himself nearly said, what’s so funny about peace on earth, love and understanding? Also, the album is a “sleigh bell-free zone,” which sets it apart from the more vulgar seasonal offering (McCartney, I’m looking at you). The album opens with a rockabilly version of the traditional ‘Children Go Where I Send Thee’. It’s good fun, and an inspired reading of a song which I grew up hating. It’s so good, in fact, that the listener could almost forget that it was a Christmas song. The Hammond introduction of ‘Christmas Can’t Be Far Away’ hints at a level of dripping sentimentality which often sullies this type of song/album. As songs go, it’s not bad. As Christmas songs go, it’s pretty good. Certainly, its Bedford Falls imagery wears a little thin, especially for anyone who has seen the news lately, but it fully never descends into the realms of full-on sickly-sweet glop. It comes damned close, though. ‘Christmas at the Airport’ is probably my favourite track on the album. It’s reasonably lively, a chirpy version of Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’, and the lyrical imagery did actually conjure a little magic in my black heart. Briefly… Fourth track, ‘Old Toy Trains’, is exactly the sort of trash that usually ends up on albums like this. Written by Roger Miller, it’s a song of absolutely no artistic worth whatsoever. That said, Nick Lowe’s version isn’t as sugary as it could have been, and if I take my cynical head off for a second, I could possibly find some merit in Lowe’s performance. The album closes with Nick’s version of Wizzard’s perennial tack-fest, ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day’. Lowe’s version is superior, in my opinion, to ’s, but it’s still an absolute pig of a song. ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day’ is evidence that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot polish a turd. Perhaps because I heard it so early in the year, I simply couldn’t wait to hear the end of this album. For me, there’s one Christmas album – Spector’s When Christmas does, however, finally come along, I probably will dig this out and play it. It is superior in craft to the majority of seasonal albums, and it’s not overly tacky. If you like Christmas records, then this is one of the better ones out there. It’s not great, but then so few Christmas albums are. Nick Lowe’s ‘Quality Street’ is among the best of a bad bunch.

Track Listing:-
1 Children Go Where I Send Thee
2 Christmas Can't Be Far Away
3 Christmas at the Airport
4 Old Toy Trains
5 The North Pole Express
6 Hooves on the Roof
7 I Was Born in Bethlehem
8 Just to Be With You (This Christmas)
9 Rise Up Shepherd
10 Silent Night
11 A Dollar Short of Happy
12 I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Da

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