Jesus of Cool [Bonus Tracks]

Jesus of Cool [Bonus Tracks]

by Nick Lowe
     
 

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On the cover of his solo debut album Jesus of Cool, Nick Lowe is pictured in six rock & roll get-ups -- hippie, folkie, greasy rock & roller, new wave hipster -- giving the not-so-subtle implication that this guy can do anything. Nick proves that assumption correct on Jesus of Cool, a record so good it was named twice, as Lowe's American record…  See more details below

Overview

On the cover of his solo debut album Jesus of Cool, Nick Lowe is pictured in six rock & roll get-ups -- hippie, folkie, greasy rock & roller, new wave hipster -- giving the not-so-subtle implication that this guy can do anything. Nick proves that assumption correct on Jesus of Cool, a record so good it was named twice, as Lowe's American record label got the jitters with Jesus and renamed it Pure Pop for Now People, shuffling the track listing (but not swapping songs) in the process. As it happens, both titles are accurate, but while the U.K. title sounds cooler, capturing Lowe's cheerfully blasphemous rock & roll swagger, Pure Pop describes the sound of the album, functioning as a sincere description of the music while conveying the wicked, knowing humor that drives it. This is pop about pop, a record filled with songs that tweak or spin conventions, or are about the industry. Only a writer with a long, hard battle with the biz in his past could write "Music for Money" and much of Jesus of Cool does feel like a long-delayed reaction to the disastrous American debut of Brinsley Schwarz, where the band's grand plans at kick-starting their career came crumbling down and pushed them into the pubs. Once there, the Brinsleys spearheaded the back-to-basics pub rock movement in England and as the years rolled on the band got loose, as did Lowe's writing, which got catchier and funnier on the group's last two albums, Nervous on the Road and New Favourites of Brinsley Schwarz. In retrospect, it's possible to hear him inch toward the powerful pop of Jesus of Cool on the Dave Edmunds-produced New Favourites, plus the handful of singles the group cut toward the end of their career -- it's not far cry from the Brinsleys' stomping cover of Tommy Roe's "Everybody" to the shake and pop of Jesus -- but even with this knowledge in hand, Jesus of Cool still sounds like an unexpected explosion as it bursts forth with blindingly bright colors and a cavalcade of giddy pure sound. Lowe is letting his id run wild: he's dispensed with any remnants of good taste -- well, apart from the gorgeous "Tonight," the only time the album dips into ballads -- and indulged in a second adolescence, bashing out three-chord rockers and cracking jokes with both his words and music. This reckless rock and pop works not just because the tracks crackle with excitement -- not for nothing did Nick earn the name "Basher" in this period; he cut quickly and moved on, the performances sounding infectious and addictive -- but because it's written with the skill that Lowe developed in the Brinsleys. He knows how to twist words around, knows how to mine black humor in "Marie Provost," knows how to splice "Nutted by Reality" into a brilliant McCartney parody, knows how to pull off the old Chuck Berry trick of spinning a tune into two songs, as he turns "Shake and Pop" into the faster, wilder "They Called It Rock." That latter bit picks up a key bit about Jesus of Cool -- it's self-referential pop that loves the past but doesn't treat it as sacred. It is the first post-modern pop record in how it plays as it builds upon tradition and how it's all tied together by Lowe's irrepressible irreverence. It's hard to imagine any of the power pop of the next three decades without it, and while plenty have tried, nobody has made a better pure pop record than this...not even Nick (of course, he didn't really try to make another record like this, either). Nobody may have bettered Jesus of Cool, but Yep Roc's 30th Anniversary edition of the album betters it by tacking on ten bonus tracks, all recorded after the demise of Brinsley Schwarz in 1974 and before the 1978 release of Jesus of Cool -- a time that was dubbed The Wilderness Years on a 1992 compilation that gathered these stray tracks. Here, it was possible to hear Lowe shake off pub rock in favor of pop. Sometimes, he tried very hard to leave the past behind, as when he cut a series of bubblegum singles that they would force United Artists to cut him loose from his contract. The first of those, the Tartan Horde, cut a tribute single to the Bay City Rollers which turned into a Japanese hit ("Rollers Show" turned up on Jesus, but the Gary Glitter send-up "Allorolla" and "Bay City Rollers We Love You" did not), which kept UA's interest high until Lowe's Disco Brothers singles extinguished the label's desire to keep him around, paving the way toward Jesus of Cool. Neither the two other Tartan Horde cuts or the Disco Brothers single are on this expanded edition (Yep Roc is offering it as a bonus download), nor are any of the harder-rocking cuts from The Wilderness Years -- "Fool Too Long," the two-chord "Truth Drug" and "I Got a Job" all are terrific reasons to seek the comp out after wearing out this reissue -- but there is a heavy dose of that disc's 18 songs, all skewing toward the bright, subversive pop that's on the proper album. There are traces of pub rock here, in the rampaging "I Don't Want the Night to End" and the country-rock "I Love My Label," but they're driven from the pub by a blindingly brilliant hook on the former and sly humor on the latter. These bonus tracks also showcase more of Lowe's pop personalities: "Shake That Rat" is a delirious instrumental, he turns Sandy Posey's "Born a Woman" upside down, he conveys the majestic sweep of the Wall of Sound on a cover of Goffin & King's "Halfway to Paradise." The bonus tracks also include "Heart of the City," the B-side of "So It Goes," the first single released on Stiff Records and thereby one of the opening salvos in the punk revolution (a live version was on the actual album), and an early version of "Cruel to Be Kind," which would turn out to be Nick's biggest hit just a couple years later. This early version is faster, wilder compared to the version he'd cut with Rockpile, and that description applies to all of his Jesus of Cool era. It's when Nick Lowe ran wild, creating pop that was pure, peerless, and permanently thrilling.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/19/2008
Label:
Yep Roc Records
UPC:
0634457262027
catalogNumber:
2620
Rank:
31476

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nick Lowe   Primary Artist,Bass,Guitar,Piano,Rhythm Guitar,Background Vocals,Soloist
Dave Edmunds   Acoustic Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Ian Gomm   Guitar
Steve Nieve   Piano
Billy Rankin   Drums
Roger Bechirian   Organ,Tambourine,Background Vocals
Martin Belmont   Guitar
Andrew Bodnar   Bass
Billy Bremner   Guitar,Background Vocals
John Ciambotti   Bass
Steve Goulding   Drums
Sean Hopper   Keyboards
Bobby Irwin   Drums
John McFee   Guitar,Soloist
Stan Shaw   Organ
Pete Thomas   Drums
John Turnbull   Guitar
Larry Wallis   Guitar
Norman Watt-Roy   Bass
Brinsley Schwarz   Guitar

Technical Credits

Roger Bechirian   Engineer
Will Birch   Liner Notes
Andrew Bodnar   Composer
Barry Farmer   Engineer
Gregg Geller   Reissue Producer
Nick Lowe   Composer,Producer
Vic Maile   Engineer
Jake Riviera   Producer
Vic Keary   Engineer

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