RTIST: Nick Lowe
TITLE: Labour of Lust
YEAR RELEASED: 1979
CHART ACTION: #31 US, #42 UK
SINGLES: Cracking Up (#34 UK), Cruel to Be Kind (#12 US, #12 UK), Switchboard Susan (#107 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nope
LINEUP: Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner, Terry Williams. The Attactions play on a track, and Huey Lewis (!) plays harominca on one.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: It’s basically a Rockpile album with Nick Lowe’s songs and this was his commercial peak.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Rockpile was a working band, but the two principals (Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe) were on different labels. No worry, record two records at the same time! Why not? (Dave Edmunds’ Repeat When Necessary was recorded at the same time).
Nick Lowe was the wit and the songwriter – he had supplied songs to several new wave acts but he saved his most famous song here. “Cruel to Be Kind” is a blessing and a curse. It’s what casual fans know about Lowe, if they even know who performs it. Rockpile and Lowe are more than that, and the produce a varied set that has a semi-country twinge, but tracks like “Big Kick, Plain Scrap!” and “Switchboard Susan” don’t sound like the hit, but are nice records in their own right.
As the industry had a lot of arena bloat and disco around, a simple rock album like this may have been a godsend, but frankly a couple tracks aren’t as focused and fall flat.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Two versions. The UK version had “Endless Gray Ribbon” instead of “American Squirm” (recorded with Elvis Costello and band). The US version is better for “Squirm” but the sequencing is a bit off.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. “American Squirm” and another B-side are now along with the UK version.
GRADE B+: I’m not as bowled over as I was with the first one, but there’s plenty of good stuff here, like “Switchboard Susan”.