CD review of Nick Lowe, “Jesus of Cool”
February 29, 2008
Steamboat Springs — “Jesus of Cool”
Thirty years after its original release, Nick Lowe’s “Jesus of Cool” is more relevant than it’s ever been – or, at least, it’s more relevant than most rock albums being released now.
That’s because, with his first official album, Lowe accomplished a seamless combination of rock, pop, glam, dub, disco and grit that has eluded just about every semi-independent band that has tried to recreate it in this decade’s indie revival.
The completely disingenuous “I Love My Label,” about writing palatable music to sell records for a big, happy music industry family, distills the kind of frustrations that eventually caused that industry to crumble (“My label always loves to hear some pretty chords on its records, like these ones / She’s always pleased to hear some of these pretty melodies, so I sing ’em some”).
Songs such as “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass” sound carefree with their blissful bass lines and Lowe’s breezy vocals. It’s the happiest song about everything crumbling around its subject that you’ve heard in a while.
And then there are the lovely three-part harmonies on “Little Hitler.”
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Or the dance floor backbeats, silly synth lines and “Ooo-lah” vocals behind lyrics such as, “Well I heard they castrated Castro / I heard they cut off everything he had / What a dirty low-down thing to do, to mess him up like that.”
There’s no-questions punk rock on “Heart of the City” and surf rock instrumentals on “Shake That Rat.”
This version of “Jesus of Cool” – which includes all the cuts off the U.K. and U.S. editions – captures everything that was going on in popular music when Lowe made it, and every single track is as catchy and clever now as it ever was.