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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon February 22, 2008
Nick Lowe's debut album Jesus Of Cool (titled Pure Pop For Now People in The US) is one of the true underappreciated gems in music history. Released in 1978, this 30th anniversary edition provides not only the UK tracks, but the US tracks as well as songs released on his Bowi EP (a classic Lowe tongue-in-cheek joke at David Bowie who released his Low album in 1977) and b-sides. The songs do sound like they are from a different era and that's not a bad thing. They still crackle and sparkle and have an immediate freshness and vibrancy. "So It Goes" is a masterpiece. It is three minutes of simple yet sophisticated pop music that rivals anything Brian Wilson every recorded. "I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass" has a hypnotic, pulsating beat and "Heart Of The City" dips back into the sound of his pub rock days. "Marie Provost" is a whimsical ditty about a former movie star who ended up becoming puppy chow which Mr. Lowe based on a story he read in the paper. "They Call It Rock" is slap in the face of the music industry that is just as timely today with all the disposable music out there. "I Love My Label" is another snarky look at the music industry and "Rollers Show" is a shimmering tune that slyly mocks the Bay City Rollers and their fans. "Tonight" is the lone ballad that has a lush and beautiful orchestration. The packaging of the album is first rate including both the UK & US album covers, a section with the single and EP covers and a fabulous booklet with some great photos and promo items from the era such as a Jesus Of Cool tie. The case itself opens up into a cross with Mr. Lowe as "the messiah" with a guitar. If you are a fan of smart, well-crafted rock music, then Jesus Of Cool needs to be in your collection.
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on February 19, 2008
Back in print for the 30th anniversary of its original release, this 1978 solo debut still shows itself to be the greatest album in Lowe's catalog. Marking a glorious new phase in his career, Lowe had already made the transition from the pub rock of Brinsley Schwarz to the punkier and new wavier sounds of the artists he produced for Stiff Records. Lowe's songwriting had also started to show the twists and sparks that he'd bring to Stiff, as he recorded a pair of singles aimed at breaking his contract with United Artists: The Tartan Horde's ""Rollers Show" and The Disco Brothers' "Let's Go to the Disco" b/w "Everybody Dance."

Once free of UA, Lowe signed with Stiff where he served as a house producer (most notably for The Damned and Elvis Costello) and released the label's very first single, "So it Goes" b/w "Heart of the City," both of which turned up on this debut LP. A follow-up EP (titled "Bowi," in retaliation for Bowie's album "Low") included a cover of Sandy Posey's "Born a Woman" (with the gender-specific lyrics ironically intact), the surf-inspired bass-heavy instrumental "Shake That Rat," the chirpy and morose "Marie Provost," and the hypnotically lethargic death-watch "Endless Sleep." Of the four, only "Marie Provost" returned for the album (the other three tracks are here as bonuses). His next single was a letter-perfect cover of Tony Orlando's Brill Building era "Halfway to Paradise" b/w "I Don't Want the Night to End," again, both included here.

Lowe contributed to the Stiffs Live album and then jumped ship to Radar where he released the single "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" b/w "They Called it Rock" (the former carried over to the album, the latter included here as a bonus) and finally, his debut album. Though five of the twelve tracks had already been released on singles and EPs, their general rarity kept them fresh to album buyers. The six new songs included terrific Lowe compositions, and letter-perfect backing from a multitude of players that included members of the eventual Rockpile. Leading off is the beat-heavy "Music Money" in which Lowe lays out the antithesis of his new found musical freedom. The strummed acoustic guitars and walled backing vocals of "Little Hitler" show how fluidly Lowe could craft a studio sound that at both celebrated and ironically commented on pop music. "Tonight" features similar acoustics and harmonies, but in service of a gorgeous love song.

The straight-ahead rocker "Shake and Pop" shared a melody with "They Called it Rock," providing two sides of the Lowe/Edmunds equation; the former was included on the UK album, the latter on the US, and both included here. The organ and reggae beat of "No Reason" suggests Costello and the Attractions, and the upbeat soul of "Nutted By Reality" might point to The Jackson 5 if it didn't open with the lyric "Well I heard they castrated Castro, I heard they cut off everything he had." That's Lowe in a nutshell: an oddball lyric about Castro's demise set to a sunny light funk beat that changes key and segues seamlessly into a bouncy, dream-like travelogue with a terrific baritone guitar solo. And it makes complete sense when you hear it. Lowe's cover of Jim Ford's "36 Inches High" (again featuring Attractions-like organ figures) is slow enough to seem like he's deconstructing and examining the lyrics as he sings.

The pre-album tracks are just as good, and match as tightly as jigsaw pieces with the new tunes. The demise of the faded silent film star "Marie Provost" shows how easily Lowe could match a jingly tune to a grisly story, crafting lyrical hooks that belie the dark theme. "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" essays the destruction of a dressing room with propulsive bass and staccato piano figures, and a live rendition of "Heart of the City" shows just how deadly Rockpile was as a stage unit.

The U.S. release of the album, retitled "Pure Pop for Now People" so as not to offend America's delicate sensibilities, made a few track substitutions and changed the running order. Dropped were "Shake and Pop" and the live version of "Heart of the City," to be replaced by "They Called it Rock" and the shorter studio version of "Heart of the City." Also included on the U.S. version was "Rollers Show." This CD follows the original UK running order; you can recreate the U.S. version as 6, 2, 5, 9, 20, 18, 14, 7, 3, 10, 8, 1. Remastering was performed by the veteran Vic Anesini.

Yep Roc's packaging goes the extra mile with a double digipack (one side holds the CD, the other a 16-page booklet) that features both the U.S. and UK covers, a cross-shaped Lowe foldout, new liner notes by Will Birch and extensive photos of many original Lowe artifacts such singles and EPs sleeves and record labels. There's even a mock-up of the rumored "Wireless World" album title, using session photos not included on either of the original packages. Detailed session info provides recording dates, studio locales and personnel that reveals for the first time how Lowe utlized members of Brinsley Schwarz, Rockpile, The Rumour, The Attractions and others on his solo works.

This deluxe reissue is a must-have for pop music fans -- those who own the original CD issue would do well to upgrade. Even fanatics who have the original CD and the odds 'n' sods "Wilderness Years" collection will enjoy the artwork, liner notes and sessionography. Great job Yep Roc, now can you please get "Labour of Lust" back in print?! [©2008 hyperbolium dot com]
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It was too cool to be a big hit in the U.S. when it was first released but it's time has come. Nick Lowe never achieved the worldwide audience of Elvis Costello (must of been the glasses..mental note: Nick, wear Buddy Holly glasses)but "Jesus of Cool" certainly deserved it. Re-released by Yeproc this year, the album comes complete with 10 bonus tracks. For those Lowe fans who purchased "The Doings" (Nick's boxed set of album tracks and rarities released in 1999 on Demon), you'll find most of this album as well as a healthy dose of the bonus tracks on it as well. There are, however, five tracks here NOT on the boxed set AND through Feb. 19, 2009 you can get two free downloads (at 192kbps)that don't appear on the album nor do they appear on the boxed set. The two tracks may be trifles compared to the album itself but they are worthwhile for hardcore Lowe fans. "Truth Drug" and "Keep It Out of Sight" are short, punchy and terrific.

The tracks included are from the original UK, US release (where it was retitled and where tracks were juggled about with some of the other songs on this release. You also get the "Bowi" album--so titled because David Bowie titled HIS album released around this time "Low". In a punny turn about we got Lowe's melodic EP with a witty title).

In this world of over loud CDs with no dynamic range that hit you like a brickwall, "Jesus of Cool" sounds pretty good. It's been remastered by Vic Anesini and features much of the original artwork enhanced with a booklet that includes a booklet with credits for each song and a short essay.

The album comes in a fold out sleeve creating (naturally given the title) a cross. My only complaint--that there isn't a plastic sleeve inside to protect the album from wear and tear (something that was also an issue for the Robyn Hitchcock re-releases for me as well). It's worth paying an extra buck or two to protect the CD. No doubt the thought was that CDs are tougher than vinyl (they are somewhat)but I prefer to protect my music. It's a minor criticism on a generally terrific package.

Remember, Jesus is still cool and, yep, he saved rock 'n' roll. Bet you didn't know that part. If the "Jesus of Cool" has returned does this mean it's the end of the world? Nope, just the celebration of some great music from an artist in top form. So much for being a "washed up veteran of the Beat group wars", Nick always aimed high with his quality songs even as he remained Lowe.
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VINE VOICEon February 21, 2008
Quite possibly one of the best New Wave records that the fewest people have heard, Nick Lowe's solo debut is simply a perfect album. Even the Americanized version, "Pure Pop For Now People," couldn't torpedo Lowe's originality, nor mask the fact that he all but defined the way the 80's British Invasion sounded. Think of the production work he did with Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, The Damned, The Pretenders...etc etc....

So why the Hell is Nick not in the Rock and Roll hall of Fame?

This 30'th Anniversary of The Jesus Of Cool could be looked upon as a "for your consideration" type of gambit. Lowe had incredible players at his disposal, from Rockpile cohort Dave Edmunds to members of The Attractions, The Rumour and The Blockheads, it was like a Stiff Records All Stars came together for a power pop perfect storm. As such, these songs all delivered. From the singles "I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass" to (on the US Version) the goofy tribute to The Bay City Rollers ("Rollers Show"), there isn't a false note or a wasted lick to be found. Oddball humor runs wild ("Nutted By Reality") to solid pub-rock ("Heart of The City").

Then there is the classic "Marie Provist." How can you not love a chorus that goes
"She was a winner that became a doggie's dinner.
She never meant that much to me.
Whoa, oh poor Marie."

The heart of this all is Lowe's wickedly keen pop sense. Every song has a hook and a distinct sound. Like the multi-personality Nick Lowes adorning the cover (and both the British and US covers are used for this deluxe version), Lowe could dance chameleon-like between genres. He toyed with 70's soul and Bo Diddley beats. If there wasn't a song here to hook you, you weren't paying attention.

Which was the fate of this album in 1978. It was critically acclaimed but only sold modestly in the states. It was even out of print for the past few years, making this re-issue all the more valuable. The remastering is terrific, and the extra packaging is done with the respect due to the work. There's a good essay from Will Birch (Edmunds and Lowe opened for....Bad Company?!?) plus a complete (for the first time) rundown of musicians' credits. All in all, a great and respectful release from an artist that defined a decade and a genre. Could the deluxe version of "Labour of Lust" and a thorough Lowe anthology be far behind?

See also:
From Small Things: The Best of Dave Edmunds
Seconds of Pleasure
This Year's Model
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on May 12, 1999
This album was called "Pure Pop For Now People" when first released in the United States (with a few minor differences). The phrase "power-pop" has come to denote an entire genre now. Back in the day, as they say, it was just Todd Rundgren, Jeff Lynne and a few other sugar-coated miscreants. And this guy, Nick Lowe. This album is sublime. Smart lyrics (there is a song about a lady who was eaten alive by her dachsund), great melodies and solid, clean playing. America missed out on this one, Nick deserves BIG credit. Let's give it to him, shall we?
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Thank God for Nick Lowe. When music was flirting with garbage, Lowe swooped in and helped save it. Or something like that. One of Lowe's finest albums is stocked with classic tracks. Every track here still sounds as fresh and catchy as the day it was released in a decade where Afternoon Delight had become the artistic standard.
From the off kilter and ultimately gross power pop classic Marie Provost to the stunning I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass, Lowe is possessed and possesses the goods to deliver on this stunning classic. Sadly, it appears that Jesus is out of stock but he will arise again.
If you can't wait, the great boxed set The Doings contains much of this classic album as well as its follow up. Well worth every penny, Lowe set a new high for witty, well written rock'n'roll.
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on February 19, 2008
I had this vinyl lp back in the day (not too mention various import 45s for non-lp b sides, etc). Of course, my version was the Pure Pop For Now People in the U.S. This is a classic release by a great, influential artist and includes all the various extra tracks found on EPs, 45s, etc. Nick Lowe performs in numerous styles and does everything well. He was and is a great pop songwriter and producer. This is a must own for anyone who loves pop music. Additionally, this man was one of the most important people to the beginning of the punk/new wave movement as house producer at Stiff records and helping create all of Elvis Costello's first several classics. I pray that all his CDs are released and given the respect they deserve.
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on February 19, 2008
Was working in a record store (remember those) in '78 when this came out.
Snagged a promo vinyl copy and wore it out. Have been waiting quite a while for it to be re-released. This is a great version. 21 songs plus a free download for 2 more inside. Since I was used to the track listing for Pure Pop for Now People and not Jesus of Cool (UK version), I burned it with the original track listing for PPFNP. The bonus tracks are nice, there are some real pop gems on here. Standouts are:

Music for Money
So It Goes
I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass
Heart of the City
They Called It Rock
No Reason

He's basically making fun of Bay City Roller fans on Rollers Show but it's still one of my favorites on here. So catchy you'll find it stuck in your head. If you like excellent pop music with stellar playing and sly wit you need look no further. This is a bonafide classic.
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HALL OF FAMEon May 31, 2005
This wonderful album from 1978 was one of that year's best offerings and still remains a classic. The music covers a wide variety of pop and rock styles but every song is blessed with a catchy tune and witty, intelligent lyrics. In addition, the album has a sharp punk edge to it that made it stand out then and keeps it relevant now. The only other artist doing the same thing back then was Elvis Costello.

So It Goes is a bouncy little pop tune, whilst I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass has an eerie air of desperation about it, like it was the answer to David Bowie's Breaking Glass on his Low album from 1977. Tonight is beautiful melodic pop and Marie Provost is a weird tale of the silent screen actress who fell into obscurity when the talkies came in and how she was nibbled on by her lapdog before they found her body. If it weren't for the engaging melody and lyrical twists the song would have been rather macabre.

Heart Of The City is heavy rock, whilst Little Hitler (co-written by Dave Edmunds) is a quirky little pop song in the same vein as Elvis Costello's Two Little Hitlers on his Armed forces album from around the same time. Nutted By Reality is another witty, humorous pop song with a great melody whilst Music For Money ends this masterpiece of an album on a pounding rock note.

I think Nick Lowe was a member of a UK pub-rock band Rockpile before he went solo with this classic album, which was released under different titles in the UK and USA. The other version was called Pure Pop For Now People. I subsequently rediscovered Nick Lowe in the 1990s when I heard his brilliant work The Impossible Bird, an album of totally unique country music containing some of that decade's most memorable and well crafted songs. You just cannot keep a genuine genius down!
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Nick Lowe's merit to and appreciation by the music industry is long overdue and this 30th anniversary release of his debut album (initially released in the US as "Pure Pop for the Now People") hopefully will set the record straight once and for all.

"Jesus of Cool" (21 tracks, 64 min.) brings the original album (11 tracks) with tons of B-sides and other rarities. As to the original album, it amazingly still sounds as fresh as it did 30 years ago. Check out "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass", which was a hit single back in the day, and I remember buying it as a single. I hadn't heard this in many many years, and it still sounds as great. Other highlights include "So It Goes" (released as single in the US). with a clear legacy to Steely Dan's "Reeling In the Years", the reggae-flavored "No Reason" (reminding me of Elvis Costello, who was on the same label at that time), and the last track "Heart of the City", a rousing live track, featuring David Edmonds on guitar.

As to the 10 bonus tracks, they are a treasure find. Check out the short instrumental (and B-side) "Check That Rat", the tongue-in-cheek "I Love My Label" (recorded for a label compilation), the irreverent "Born a Woman" (from a UK-only released EP), "Rollers Show" (a UK-only single) and the last track, a romping "I Don't Want the Night to End" (another B-side), just beautiful. This reissue come with insightful liner notes and great pictures from back in the day. In all, a terrific reissue and a must for anyone who want to know what the UK music scene felt like 30 years ago. Highly recommended!
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