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A couple of years ago, Yep Roc did the universe a service and rescued Jesus of Cool, the trailblazing solo debut of the irrepressible Nick Lowe, from oblivion. Now the label does the same for his 1979 follow-up, the equally delightful Labour of Lust. Backed by the ever-dependable Rockpile (who recorded the great Dave Edmunds LP Repeat When Necessary at the same time), Lowe knocks out gem after rootsy pop rock gem, with seemingly as little effort as it takes to boil an egg. The upbeat tunes demand the most immediate attention – “Born Fighter,” “American Squirm,” the ridiculous but irresistible “Dose of You” and the Lowe standards “Cracking Up” and “Without Love” bring a smile to the lips without hesitation. Ditto “Cruel to Be Kind,” a perfect pop single that was a deserved top 40 hit and still a tune that demands a giddy singalong. But Lowe truly bares his musical soul with the ballads; the waltzing “Endless Grey Ribbon,” the stark “Basing Street” (originally a B-side) and the almost deathly quiet “You Make Me” presage his soulful, introspective work of recent years. Every bit as catchy, funny, smart and winning as it was in the 70s, Labour of Lust is yet another reminder of what a treasure Lowe’s catalog is and always will be.
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