The Master Producer's second album was a grand overture to the masses who finally caught on to his schtick by reworking basic melody lines and concepts into a new tune with a sense of humour. Includes the Top 40 Hit 'Cruel to Be Kind' (later to be the theme song of the film '10 Things I Hate About You'), 'Cracking Up' and 'Switchboard Susan'. Both Lowe's and Partner-in-crime Dave Edmunds' solo albums at this time were actually fronts for their group Rockpile, which would only have one album issued later under that moniker.
As busy as Nick Lowe was as staff producer for Stiff Records during the late 1970s, it's amazing he had the time to turn out his own impressive collection of work. Labour of Lust
, his second album, bristles with sharp, witty lyrics and driving guitars that crackle from crisp, economic playing. It's full of essential, slightly twisted, always amusing three-minute gems such as "American Squirm" (as in, "I made an...") and "Born Fighter." In a perfect world, "Cruel to Be Kind" would have only been the first in a series of Top 10 singles from this record. "Without Love" indicates the country-pop direction he would follow in the '80s, while "You Make Me" and "Without Love" foreshadow the thoughtful, mature approach that characterizes such '90s releases as the superb Dig My Mood
. It's simply impossible to recommend this record highly enough. --Percy Keegan