March 4th, 2008
11:01 AM ET

They called it pop

In all the attention given to the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the anniversary of another great pop album is being overlooked.

Nick Lowe

Nick Lowe's "Jesus of Cool" is just out in a 30th-anniversary edition.

I refer, of course, to Nick Lowe’s “Jesus of Cool” - originally titled “Pure Pop for Now People” in the United States - which was recently released in a 30th-anniversary edition that combines the slightly differing track lists of both versions with a number of extra songs.

Many people prefer the original UK title, but for me “Pure Pop for Now People” sums up the album - and the ever-witty Lowe - far more appropriately. In 1978 what the Basher was doing was both old and new: hearkening back to classic ‘60s arrangements and styles (“Tonight’s” melting romance, “Heart of the City’s” raw power) with late-‘70s irony (who else would write a song about the unfortunate death of a silent film star that included the line, “She was a winner/Who became a doggie’s dinner/She never meant that much to me”?).

Lowe, as Entertainment Weekly points out in its review, has been perennially underrated. The man helped lay the groundwork for punk and New Wave with his pub-rock band, Brinsley Schwarz (their history is given a wink in the song “They Called It Rock”) and was Stiff Records’ staff producer, working on records by Elvis Costello, the Damned and Wreckless Eric. On his own, he’s created a number of classic albums, always leavened by melodic wit and more recently by a great deal of soul.

I’ll be the first to admit my biases: along with Ray Davies, Nick Lowe is my musical hero. But I hope my own predispositions don’t steer you away from a terrific album. Lowe loves a lot of things - “I Love My Label” and “(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass” are two of the songs on “Cool” - but what he really loves is pure pop music. You can hear the joy all the way through “Jesus of Cool.”

- Entertainment Producer Todd Leopold

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Sean Condon

    Truly one of the great rock 'n' roll albums of a truly great era. I prefer the song sequencing on the original "Pure Pop..." and I hope the edits are clean enough on this edition of "Jesus" (as opposed to my Demon copy) to reprogram. I haven't bought this one yet, but a friend has it, and the packaging is stunning. Lowe, to my mind, is perhaps the best songwriter Britain has produced postwar; he certainly outshines bloated and forever-lost Costello. A five-star album finally given five-star treatment.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jon Eliot

    This is truly a timeless pop rock album. Lowe has always been modest about his songwriting and career and that is always refreshing, but I'd forgive him in a heartbeat if wanted to brag. I'll do it for him. This album is brilliant and hold up quite well today! It'sa crime it wasn't bigger back in the day. Oh well. So it goes...

    March 12, 2008 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. clint

    I loved this record then, and I love it now. The Basher will always be welcome at my bar..

    March 4, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |

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