Saturday, May 28, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter C, Part 5)

Nick Lowe is just about as good as it gets for me, and there was a time in my life when I had to have everything associated with him. Thus, I have four albums from his ex-wife on the shelf. I rate Carlene Carter's output during her time with Lowe as such:

'Two Sides to Every Woman' (1979) Fair
'Musical Shapes' (1980) Excellent
'Blue Nun' (1981) Excellent
'C'est C Bon' (1983) Poor

It's no coincidence the two albums deemed excellent are the ones with heavy participation from her husband. In fact, 'Musical Shapes' is Carter backed by Rockpile. 'Blue Nun' mixes up the roster a bit, but she is still surrounded by the pals of Lowe that would become his band after Rockpile, including James Eller, Bobby Irwin, Paul Carrack and Martin Belmont. 'Musical Shapes' is a little bit country. There are elements of that sound in 'Blue Nun,' but pop starts to creep in, too.

By 'C'est C Bon,' Carter has gone all pop, and many of Lowe's clan have flown the coop. Eller and Rockpile drummer Terry Williams are there, but not even Lowe makes a credited appearance. There are a few song titles Lowe fans will know, such as "Don't Give My Heart a Break," which appeared on Carrack's 1982 album 'Suburban Voodoo,' but it's a largely ear-scraping experience from beginning to end. There wouldn't be another album from Carter until 1990, the year her divorce from Lowe was official. In a jaw-dropping development to Lowe fans everywhere, it was about then that Carter's career took off, and she enjoyed a fruitful first half of the decade on the country charts.

Here are a few songs taken from those first three albums. I won't subject you to 'C'est C Bon.' You'll know this first one from the B-side to Elvis Costello's "Less Than Zero" single on Stiff in '77. For you trivia buffs, John McFee plays pedal steel on the original and Carter's cover. The second song is a duet with Rockpile's Dave Edmunds. It was composed by country songwriter Richard Dobson. The third song was written together by Carter and Lowe. This is an example of the gritty/sleazy singing style found throughout these early albums. I bet she could even make a church hymn sound dirty.

"Radio Sweetheart" (from 'Two Sides to Every Woman')
"Baby Ride Easy" (from 'Musical Shapes')
"Me and My .38" (from 'Blue Nun')


The Swede said...

'Musical Shapes' is such a great album. I haven't dug it out in too long a time. Must remedy that. I'll check out 'Blue Nun' on your recommendation while I'm at it, I probably haven't heard that one since 1982.

charity chic said...

Fantastic last line Brian
I am not that familiar with her work and this will help rectify that

Brian said...

Dig out those two, Swede. You won't be sorry. CC, if you're into Rockpile, you'll want Musical Shapes. Otherwise, you may not find Carter essential. Hope this helps on your musical journey.