Originally published in the Northside San Francisco in April 2008
The Jesus of Cool Cometh-Nick Lowe’s classic album re-released after thirty years by Sharon Anderson
This is a story of indulgences. Every six weeks, I spend a day in my favorite beach town and I visit the spa. My last beach day started with a trip to the music store.
The music industry indulges in re-releases and remastered classics so often that music fans could spend a fortune buying their favorite recordings over and over again every few years. Ever notice how these reissues don’t always sound all that improved? It hardly seems worth it.
When I was a music distributor, I was often asked what remastered classic album I’d most like to hear. My answer was always a wish to hear a great, new and shiny version of Nick Lowe’s Jesus Of Cool. My day at the beach started out with this answered prayer realized when I picked up Yep Rock Record’s new CD re-release of this 1978 pop masterpiece, which was simultaneously released in America as Pure Pop for Now People by Columbia records who thought the title Jesus Of Cool seemed too controversial. Those were innocent times, indeed.
After his tenure in the bands Brinsley Schwartz and Rockpile, Nick Lowe produced Elvis Costello’s iconic albums My Aim Is True and This Year’s Model. During this period, Lowe began work on his debut solo album.
Fast forward thirty years to southern California. As I drove down Pacific Coast Highway, Jesus Of Cool found its way into my CD player, blasting off with the opening chords to “Music for Money”. For me, the icing on the cake of these catchy pop confections is the clever lyrics that lampoon the superficiality of the music industry. “Shake and Pop” laments an anonymous band’s quick rise and fall.
“They cut another record
It never was a hit
And someone in the newspapers said it was shit …”
Bonus tracks abound on this reissue, including Lowe’s hilarious tongue-in-cheek tribute to his record company, “I Love My Label”. Check out the beautiful retro-pop harmonies of “Halfway To Paradise” and the sheer ebullience of “Rollers Show”, a simultaneous homage to and parody of the Bay City Rollers. An early recording of what became Lowe’s hit “Cruel To Be Kind” is also worth a listen.
Nick Lowe’s genius has always been in his economy of sound, in his songs that don’t waste a word or a note. This is a remastered classic that’s worth it. Jesus Of Cool lives up to its critical acclaim. Pure pop never sounded better.