Category: Nick Lowe

Nick Lowe – Labour of Lust

RTIST: Nick Lowe               220px-Labouroflust

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”.

Nick Lowe – Jesus of Cool

ARTIST: Nick Lowe 220px-Nick_Lowe_Jesus_of_Cool
TITLE: Jesus of Cool (Pure Pop for Now People in the US)
YEAR RELEASED: 1978
CHART ACTION: #127 US, #22 UK
SINGLES: I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass (#7 UK), So It Goes (#109 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Heart of the City
LINEUP: Nick Lowe, mostly backed by Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams, but other UK New Wave stalwarts appear.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pub rock veteran and songwriter releases a great album with quirky, pointed songs about the music biz and other such nonsense

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Lowe is probably more famous in the US for his second album, and “Peace, Love and Understanding”, and maybe his work in Rockpile. This record, though, is great and shows what promise the new wave had in upsetting the establishment.

Songs about a former actress, Castro, the Bay City Rollers and even record labels make for a fun listen. The music is a bit pub-rocky at times but there’s an energy and drive thanks to Dave Edmunds and Rockpile.

For some reason, it was re-titled and re-sequenced in the US. In some ways, it was a better album (T”hey Called It Rock” a better version of “Shake and Pop”, really). I think the title threw off us naïve Americans.

NOTES & MINUTAE: Lowe wrote “(What’s So Funny About) Peace Love and Understanding”, which Elvis Costello basically made his own.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, it combines both the US and UK version, a spare single, and each track from the Bowi EP (named because David Bowie released the album Low, can you dig it?)

GRADE: A- : It’s almost an A but the slower ballads drag it a bit. I wanted the energy to keep going!