30 Days: 30 Albums | Nick Lowe – Jesus Of Cool DLX RM

This has been an album that I have wanted for over 30 years. At first, I was indifferent to Lowe’s tuneful New Wave pop since when he popped up on my radar, he was closer to the mainstream than the more contrived [read: synthetic] acts that I was more vividly drawn to. But by the early 80s, I had more time for Lowe and when in the CD era [post ’85 for me] I looked to buy CDs of his when I found them cheaply [as was my M.O. for most things]. That doesn’t mean that I’m hip deep in the things! To this day I have just four Nick Lowe CDs; including this one! It’s his first “solo” album following the early 70s Brinsley Schwartz part of his career. He cut the songs on this while he was busy polishing up early, formative efforts of The Damned, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and Wreckless Eric as The Producer. A friend gave me the US LP of this when they moved away in the early 90s, but I was not spinning vinyl much and it got the boot later. If it’s on a CD, I won’t bother playing vinyl, and I’ve been known to wait decades until that CD is in house.

Yep Roc Records ‎| US | CD | 2008 | YEP 2620

#24Nick Lowe: Jesus of Cool DLX RM US CD [2008]

  1. Music For Money
  2. I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass
  3. Little Hitler
  4. Shake And Pop
  5. Tonight
  6. So It Goes
  7. No Reason
  8. 36″ High
  9. Marie Provost
  10. Nutted By Reality
  11. Heart Of The City (Live)
  12. Shake That Rat
  13. I Love My Label
  14. They Called It Rock
  15. Born A Woman
  16. Endless Sleep
  17. Halfway To Paradise
  18. Rollers Show
  19. Cruel To Be Kind (Original Version)
  20. Heart Of The City
  21. I Don’t Want The Night To End

The UK album was of a vastly different sequencing and composition from the US version of this album, non-controversially entitled “Pure Pop For Now People.” The opener, “Music For Money” had what I’d almost call a heavy rock [!] sound for Lowe, but a second listen began triggering thoughts of T-Rex’s “Children Of the Revolution.” The typically cynical lyrical stance was somewhat wasted on the pedestrian [even dire] music.At any rate, an odd one out for him. Far better was a song I never tire of hearing of in this, or any other, form. “I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass” was at least in my Record Cell for years in the form of a great Marti Jones cover on her “My Long Haired Life” album of 1996. Unca Nick’s version is every bit as wonderful and the slight disco rhythm section on this gave it a boost into the pop zone. The arrangement makes me think of side one of Bowie’s “Low,” ironically enough [I’ll explain later for those in the dark]. I can easily imagine the instrumentation changed to an ARP and with the drums run through the Eventide Harmonizer… oh yeah! A song right off of “Low.”

“Shake + Pop” would show up as the B-side to “Little Hitler” as played by Rockpile under the Dave Edmunds bestowed title of “They Called It Rock.” “Tonight” I’ve knows since almost day one from Lene Lovich’s cover version on her “Stateless” album. I have to say that as much as Marti Jones maintains the high standard that Lowe established with “Breaking Glass,” I still prefer what Ms. Lovich brought to the song. I guess it just sounds like a woman’s song to me after 39 years.

I’ve also had a copy of “So It Goes” in Lowe’s original version for almost 20 years on a great Rhino New Wave comp; “D.I.Y. UK Pop Vol 1.” The arrangement sort of reminds me of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In The Years” to this day, but it’s an infectious pop number with deep, barbed hooks that don’t quit. “No Reason” was a shocker as it was the first [and so far, only] time that I’d heard Lowe dip his toe into reggae style. Given that the backing band on this cut was The Rumour, and Graham Parker was never shy about dabbling, I’ll put it down to their influence. The whole thing comes within a hair’s breadth of the vibe on “Watching The Detectives;” one of Lowe’s more famous productions.

“Marie Provost” was another song I was familiar from the great Rhino D.I.Y. series [“UK Pop Vol. 2”] and this one was also on Nick’s “Bowi” EP. So called because after writing a song called “Breaking Glass,” someone told him that Bowie had just put a song with that title out on an album called “Low” so Nick felt the least he could do in response was to release a record where he misspelt Bowie’s name as a wiseguy tit-fot-tat. The sweet harmonies here belied Nick’s recounting of Marie’s ghoulish canine dining on his expired mistress.

Things moved quickly in ’77-’78 and Nick had a brace of non-LP A/B sides and all of them are here, with the exception of a Dutch only 7″, and those tracks were included as DLs with the album as released in 2008… for at least a year with the DL available for about a year. Thus making my very late purchase a non event for “Keep It Out Of Sight” and “[I’ve Been Taking The] Truth Drug.” Grrrrr. On a happier note, the “Bowi” EP had three wildly diverse B-ides; all present here. “Shake That Rat” was a revelation! I have never heard bass-led instro surf rock… until now! This makes Nick’s linkup with Los Straitjackets seem much more natural [thought I’ve seen both live together and they geet on like a house on fire]. “Born A Woman” sounded like a 60s country song from the pen of Martha Sharp and “Endless Sleep” is the oddest song I’ve ever heard from Lowe. It sounded like his take on “Please Mr. Gravedigger,” the primordial Bowie song from ’67. It also opened with sound effects and Lowe sounded as if he was in your closet, barely singing this weirdly intimate death-rock song with almost no accompaniment and a plodding 30 BPM!

“They Called It Rock” was the retitled “Shake + Pop” with accompaniment in a rockabilly via Rockpile instead of The Rumour. “I Love My Label” was a gut-busting love song to Stiff Records as chronicled on “A Bunch Of Stiffs” the previous year. “Halfway To Paradise” and “I Don’t Want The Night To End” were a stand-alone single. The former a Goffin-King cover. That one felt a little left field for Nick.

More appropriate was the hilarity of The Tartan Horde’s “Rollers Show.” Nick’s pseudonymous possible tribute/probable rip on the mid-70s Scottish sensations that was a single only in Japan and the Netherlands. I’m certain that the sales in Japan were to Roller’s fans but if you didn’t know anything about Lowe’s personality, you wouldn’t know it could be anything but a glassy-eyed Rollers pastiche/tribute. Brilliant stuff that for some reason Columbia put on the US copy of “Pure Pop For Now People” even though Americans might not have gotten the joke.

The “Little Hitler” B-side was the early, wimpier version of “Cruel To Be Kind” made without the pop chops that made the second version Nick’s only Top 20 US hit the next year. There’s no comparison to these ears. And for some reason, the LP had a blistering, twice as long live take of “Heart Of The City” leaving the original studio cut as a B-side instead. That was a lot of bonus tracks squeezed onto this CD! Any other less succinct artist would have had these 21 songs on two discs, but not Nick Lowe!

This was pretty much a hoot from start to finish. The melange of tunes had many of them recorded at Pathway Studios, where John Foxx would decamp to make “Metamatic” by late 1979. The modest 8-track sound serves these quick bursts of pop well, even if the production seems a little muffled on some of these. Nick Lowe was called “Basher” for his propensity to get it all down on tape pretty fast, and this portion of his career was rife with the goods of an performer who was finally coming onto his own both as a producer and artiste in the ’77-’78 timespan as captured on this disc.

CONCLUSION: enjoy… a lot

 

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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16 Responses to 30 Days: 30 Albums | Nick Lowe – Jesus Of Cool DLX RM

  1. The Swede says:

    Good call – and Nick is still making great records.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. diskojoe says:

    The reason why “Born a Woman” sounded like a 60s country tune because it was a ’60s country tune that was done by Sandy Posey. All or most of the bonus tracks were on a CD that came out in the early 90s on Demon Records called The Wilderness Years. Yep Roc has reissued Nick’s subsequent albums on. CD, starting w/the follow up, Labour of Lust which has the hit version of “Cruel to Be Kind”. Speaking of which, I was listening to a radio station that rebroadcasts old American Top 40 w/Casey Kasem shows & it was a show from 1979 that had the said song & Casey told the story of the Brinsley Schwarz fiasco.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      diskojoe – AT40 gets played years later??! I grew up on it from 1972-1977 but can’t imagine the material having any shelf life whatsoever but I guess if you wait long enough…

      Like

      • Tim says:

        I hear old versions of AT40 here in Wisconsin, too. It’s really odd but you know given the current state of the ”quality” of music being made 1986 doesn’t sound so bad….

        Like

        • diskojoe says:

          I don’t know about that. I couldn’t listen to a AT40 show from 1986 because all the songs all sounded the same w/the awful drum sounds.

          Like

          • Tim says:

            Especially THAT act in at #29 this week, September 13, 1986.
            I find the syndicated AT40 kinda creepy, isn’t the whole thing of the Top 40 that it’s current?
            It’s kind like a musical Lenin’s tomb with Casey Kasem preserved forever frozen under that glass.

            Like

          • postpunkmonk says:

            diskojoe – I’m with you! By 1986, the brief respite of coolness on Top 40 that came with the Second British Invasion three years earlier was more than spent! It was a post-Live Aid world of [cough] …authenticity.

            Like

  3. Taffy says:

    I bought Pure Pop For Now People on vinyl 40 years ago, and it’s been a good friend ever since. I often forget about this reissue cuz I’m so attuned to the American version, but when it comes to early Lowe more is always better. So It Goes, Breaking Glass, Marie Provost, and especially the Rollers Show (a giddy delight) are amongst my favorite Nick Lowe compositions. Great album, Monk.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – Like I said, a friend gave me the LP but it never got spun at all as I was in my “ignore vinyl on CD” mindset. Even if I wouldn’t get the CD for 25 more years. This disc is jam-packed with Lowe goodness though, isn’t it? There’s something delightful about CDs with more than 20 songs on them. So let me ask your opinion. “Roller’s Show.” Tongue in cheek irony…sincere homage…orboth? The conquering tartan heroes were the bee’s knees when I was in junior high and they even had an American Saturday morning cartoon show. I knew a girl in 7th grade who was completely mad for them before 1978 happened and she chucked them all for Leif “It’s Pronounced L-a-y-f!!” Garrett [she’d harangue]. I can only say that “S-A-TUR-DAY Night” was an ace single. Can’t remember anything else, but damn, what hooks. The Ramones were definitely listening!

      Liked by 1 person

      • diskojoe says:

        I remember when The Bay City Rollers were to Howard Cosell’s Saturday Night Live what the Beatles were to Ed Sullivan. I think that it’s the genius of Nick Lowe that “Rollers Show” is both tongue in cheek irony and sincere homage all at once.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          diskojoe – Hay. Another old timer who remembers Howard Cosell’s Saturday Night Live! I never watched it but I remember the confusion with NBC’s “Saturday Night” which debuted the same year and manage to last more than 3 months on the air.

          Like

      • Taffy says:

        agree with diskojoe…both ironic and sincere. I mean, I can only imagine that Nick Lowe would’ve loved a big British or American top 40 hit or two, especially one as catchy and charming as Saturday Night. Happily, he did get one with Cruel To be Kind.
        Examining the lyrics of Roller Show, there’s a distinct lack of snark, but seeing as they were sung by a man of 30, I figure there was tongue somewhere near cheek!

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Taffy – I guess the snark was strictly down to the fact that it was a man of 30 singing the words. Especially since the writers of that song, Martin and Coulter, were well into their mid-30s by the time they wrote it! I was looking into it and was shocked to see that that “Saturday Night” was a ‘74 UK dud single that inexplicably topped the US charts two years later! Never underestimate the power of The Evil One; Mr. Clive Davis! (Insert stinger)

          Like

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