Nick Lowe, Jesus of Cool

What is it with snarky rockers and G-d complexes, anyway? (Maybe that's why Columbia chickened out Stateside and called it Pure Pop for Now People, like that really explained the album better.) But no matter what it's called, it's a gas: right on the terminal gasp of glam and the cusp of new wave, with just a dash of doo-wop and soul, the style defies categorization while it simultaneously delights. It's well programmed with a lot of zip (dig the wacked-out Motown riff in "Nutted by Reality" and the rollicking chaos of "I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass") and a little slowness ("Tonight"), and, wow, a heavy helping of humour, like a knowing indictment of the recording industry in "Shake and Pop," the ghoulish "Marie Provost" and of course the Führeriffic "Little Hitler." A precious few songs don't fire on all cylinders (the live pub rocker "Heart of the City" feels an afterthought and "36 Inches High" meanders a bit too much), but there sure aren't many. But wait, there's more! the 2008 CD reissue makes a great album even better by not only reverting to the superior European tracklist, but also adding almost double the music with the different American tracks, surprisingly worthy alternate takes, some B-sides (including the hilarious "I Love My Label") and even the Brinsley Schwartz version of "Cruel To Be Kind." Another overwhelming victory for the Poms! American reissuers should be ashamed. (Content: A couple S- and F-bombs, adult themes and drug references.)

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