The oft-quote phrase goes: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So flattery is in high season this week with two of my favorite acts: the Replacements and Nick Lowe. Tuesday was the release day for Treatment Bound: A Ukulele Tribute to The Replacements as well as Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe.
As the subtitle clearly states, Treatment Bound (Bar/None) delivers ukulele versions of Replacements songs. It’s a conceit that works far better than you might think. The songs are performed by the Nashville-based duo Bright Little Field, made up of Tom Littlefield (of the ‘80s Nashville rock band the Questionaires) and Jonathan Bright. BLF don’t do uke shtick but play Paul Westerberg’s songs to reveal the wonderful words and hooky melodies that were often covered up by the band’s raucously ragged approach. The disc continues a dozen of Westerberg’s finest: from “Can’t Hardly Wait” to “Kiss Me On The Bus.”
Lowe Country contains 13 tunes (making, in this regard, one better than Treatment Bound) ranging from the Parson Red Heads’ take on the 1972 Brinsley Schwarz song “Don’t Lose Your Grip On Love” to the more recent track (2001) “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide, which is performed by Caitlin Rose. As the title suggests, the music here tends to be in the twanger side of the spectrum (with Hayes Carll, Lori McKenna and Chatham County Line being among the contributors) although not exclusively so (JEFF the Brotherhood and Ron Sexsmith also are performers here). However, as with the Treatment Bound, the stars of Lowe Country (on Fiesta Red Records) are the songs, which include “All Men Are Liars,” “Heart of the City” and “When I Write The Book” and other Lowe highlights. A portion of Lowe Country’s proceeds will be donated to The Nashville Rising Fund and The Central Texas Wildfire Fund.