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Nick Lowe

Jesus of Cool

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Nick Lowe's band Brinsley Schwarz was a pillar of the back-to-basics counterinsurgency waged against the overblown corporate rock of the early '70s, and his productions of the Damned and Elvis Costello helped usher in the mid-decade punk movement. In between (the so-called "wilderness years") he sowed the seeds of what would become this solo debut LP, first in breaking his United Artists contract with the tongue-in-cheek "Rollers Show," and then on Stiff Records with his originals "So It Goes" and "Heart of the City," a cover of King & Goffin's 1961 Tony Orlando hit "Halfway to Paradise," and an EP, Bowi, named in retaliation for Bowie's album Low.

Lowe departed Stiff (together with Costello and label co-founder Jake Riviera) but maintained his cracked sense of humor and musical craft as he fashioned this album from a few post-Brinsley singles and superb new material. The collection celebrated, caricatured, and lambasted pop and its business, soaking in the music's soul with Brill Building-styled ballads and outright rockers, and flaying the industry's commercialism with "Music for Money" and "Shake and Pop." His eccentric stories of a silent-movie star's grisly finale, dressing room demolition, and undying fealty to the Bay City Rollers were set to brilliantly catchy rock 'n' roll, pop-soul, ska, and bubblegum sounds.

Yep Roc's omnibus reissue collects the tracks and cover art of both the UK and US (Pure Pop for Now People) LP editions, adds eight earlier singles and EP tracks, and fills out a sixteen-page booklet with liner notes from Will Birch and a first-ever sessionography. Even the album's long-time fans will be surprised at the range of musical mates who dropped in to give Lowe a hand. His follow-up album, Labour of Lust, may have launched his hit "Cruel to Be Kind," but the deification started right here. (Yep Roc)

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