Friday, March 30, 2018

Ancient Wool Unraveller


Wings : Backwards Traveller


On March 31, 1978 Wings released the Top 5 album London Town, recorded for the most part a year earlier aboard the Fair Carol, a yacht in the Virgin Islands where mishaps occurred on a fairly regular basis. Road Manager Alan Crowder slipped and broke his foot. Denny Laine got heatstroke.Jimmy McCulloch temporarily lost his hearing and Geoff Emerick electrocuted himself.

My 14 year old self liked the album. 40 years later, I'm not as impressed. 


The most promising song on this lightweight album is the rocking "Backwards Traveller". It's only 69 seconds long. The demo version is nearly four minutes long. Why it wasn't finished remains a mystery to many fans. Maybe Paul wasn't a fan of the lyrics ( I am the backwards traveller /Ancient wool unraveller /Sailng songs,/wailing on the moon)

It was relegated as one half of the B side to the US #1 single, "With a Little Luck". 


  The critics were writing McCartney off, even while lukewarmly recommending his albums.

Here's Robert Christgau, who gave London Town a B grade:

McCartney's lyricism is so capricious, so given to inanity and icky-poo, that only at its very best--"With a Little Luck" and the affectionate goof on "Famous Groupies"--does it come on strong. But from its slices of life to its romantic reassurances this is nowhere near as feckless as the Old Band on the Run claque claims--even on the one about the fairy who'll invite us to tea Linda adds a few harmonies that are as charming as they're meant to be. And at the very least you have to be impressed by how steadfastly Paul has resisted supersessions--he's been loyal to his group, which has now recorded longer than the Beatles.


And from Rolling Stone's Janet Maslin :

London Town is so lighthearted that the album's feeling of familial strength and affection is virtually the only thing that binds it to earth...Even the best songs here — and a couple of them, like "Deliver Your Children" and "Children Children," are just wonderful — sound as if Wings were only half trying.


The US #25 hit "I've Had Enough" benefits from being the one snarler on the album. It sounds contemporary, as opposed to the title track , written in 1975, sinks in a swamp of synthesized goo.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Howling Winds


Tangerine Dream:  Rising Runner Missed By Endless Sender


Was the world crying out for a Tangerine Dream album with vocals? During the recording of Cyclone, the four members decided English musician Steve Joliffe would take on the role of vocalist. Voices had been used in abstract ways before, but this would be the first time they had a traditional 'singer'. The overall effect brings the album very much into straight-forward prog rock territory, which alienated a lot of fans. And not just the fans. Edgar Froese reportedly hasn't listened to the album since its release in March of 1978.




Tuesday, March 27, 2018

No Profit In Deceit


Robert Palmer : Every Kinda People


In March of 1978, Robert Palmer released Double Fun, a US Top 50 album. Palmer had moved to Nassau, Bahamas and recorded an album of Caribbean influenced pop songs including the Andy Fraser penned "Every Kinda People", a US #16 hit. Palmer may having a very good time on the cover, but for listeners Double Fun is very hit and miss, with an ill advised Kinks cover. 





Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Hairy Handed Gent


Warren Zevon : Werewolves of London


On March 25, 1978 Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #76. It would be his biggest hit, peaking at US#21. The song featured Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass, as well as co-writer Waddy Wachtel on guitar.  Roy Marinell also collaborated on the song with Zevon. In Crystal Zevon's I'll Sleep When I'm Dead : The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon,  he remembers the song getting knocked out in about 15 minutes.

The story starts out with Crystal, Warren, and me sitting around my house in Venice...Actually, Phil Everly likes to stay up all night and watch old movies, and he had talked to Warren about a great English movie called Werewolf of London that was made in 1930. He thought we should write a song called “Werewolves of Lon- don” and make it a dance craze. So, Warren was telling me the story and I said, “What a great idea.” Waddy walks in and he said, “You mean, ah-oooh.” We said, “Whoa, great.” 




I had this great lick—dum dum, dum dum, dum dum dum dum—I’d been carrying around for years. Knew it was a good lick but no idea what to do with it. So, I was playing that lick, Waddy did the “Ah-ooh,” and Warren said, “Waddy, you sing the first verse.” Then Warren wrote the second verse, and I wrote the third verse.




 Now, I must say that I did have a little to do with Warren’s verse. He had said originally, “An old lady got mutilated last night,” and I said, “Why don’t we make this really an example of alliteration...little old lady got mutilated late last night.” Of course, Warren, literate fellow that he was, loved it. We finished the song and Crys- tal said, “Wow, what a great song.” Fools that we are, we said, “You think it’s so great, why don’t you write it down?” Otherwise, that song never would have gone anywhere.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Willing And Able


Bob Marley and the Wailers : Is This Love


On March 23, 1978 Bob Marley and the Wailers released Kaya, a mellow collection of songs recorded in the same London sessions that yielded Exodus. Why was it called Kaya?

"Kaya means herb,"Marley explained to Ian McCann. "So Kaya is really dealing with togetherness and humanity and peace, (because) the things of peace travel through the earth now. Yes, Rastaman Vibration and Exodus were 'arder. This time we dealing with something softer".


After the 1976 assassination attempt, Marley had every excuse to tone the politics and focus on love and marijuana. But not every one bought the excuse. Lester Bangs, in a Rolling Stone review, was among the first to call Kaya a sell out:

This is quite possibly the blandest set of reggae music I have ever heard, including all the Engelbertisms of would-be crossover crooners like John Holt. It's pleasant enough if you just let it eddy along, but nothing on the ten cuts pulls you in like the hypnotic undertow of Burning Spear's Marcus Garvey, haunts like the best from The Harder They Come soundtrack or churns up the guts and heart like Toots and the Maytals. Musically, Kaya is a succession of the most tepid reggae clich├ęs, pristinely performed and recorded, every last bit of tourist bait (down to the wood blocks) in place just like a Martin Denny record. Marley sings in a cheerful lilt light and bouncy enough for panty-hose commercials. Four hundred years? Concrete jungles? Burning and looting? Pass the Man Tan, Irma.





Robert Christgau was taken with the album, grading Kaya with an A- and writing 

If this is MOR, it's MOR like good Steely Dan--MOR with a difference. Marley has sung with more apparent passion, it's true, but never more subtly, and his control of the shift in conception that began with Exodus is now absolute. He hasn't abandoned his apocalyptic vision--just found a day-to-day context for it, that's all. 

I've always enjoyed the easy skanking vibe of Kaya, the perfect soundtrack to a misty morning.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

I Feel Good I Feel Bad


The Rutles : I Must Be In Love 


On March 22 1978 NBC aired "All You Need Is Cash", a Beatles parody that is one of the first, finest and funniest mockumentaries ever made. Naturally nobody watched. It was the least watched program of the entire week. Monty Python's Eric Idle and Bonzo Dog Band's Neil Innes were the masterminds behind the project which gently spoofs their friends. George Harrison helped produce Monty Python movies and Paul McCartney produced the Bonzo's UK#5 hit "I'm the Urban Spaceman" and featured the band performing "Death Cab for Cutie"  in Magical Mystery Tour.


The film is fun but the I've gotten the most pleasure from the soundtrack featuring Innes's Beatlesque tunes. The songs so closely parodied the original source material that Innes was taken to court by the owners of The Beatles' catalogue. Innes had to testify under oath that he had not listened to the songs at all while composing The Rutles' songs, but had created them completely originally based on what he remembered various songs by The Beatles sounding like at different times. 

Innes recorded the songs with ex Flames and Beach Boy Ricky Fataar, Ollie Halsall (who sang the Paul McCartney inspired tunes that Eric Idle mimed , John Halseyn( who played the Ringo inspired Barry Wom)  and Andy Brown. 


I would often play the Rutles on my college radio show, favoring  Rutle Soul era songs like "I Must Be In Love", "With a Girl Like You",  "Ouch" and "Between Us".



Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Them Lonesome Boxcars





In the Spring of 1978 Joe Ely released the critically acclaimed Honky Tonk Masquerade, his second album for MCA. Robert Christgau gave the album a A rating, writing "there hasn't been anything like this since Gram Parsons was around to make Grievous Angel, or do I mean Gilded Palace of Sin?" 


Today, as one of the founders of The Flatlanders with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock, Ely is recognized as one of the godfathers of alt country, but in the late 70's he never achieved more than a cult following, even after The Clash invited him on their US tour. 

Born in Buddy Holly's hometown, Ely's music reflected his West Texas heritage. You'll hear country, rock, some Louisiana accordion and Mexican horns, all recorded with care in a Nashville studio by Chip Young. The result is a timeless album.


Although it didn't achieve much commercial success, Honky Tonk Masquerade made 1001 You Must Hear Before You Die, suggesting Ely "proved too individual for country radio and too country for rock radio.".


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Puzzle in a Million Pieces


Fotomaker : Where Have You Been All My Life


In March of 1978 Fotomaker, a power pop super group made of former Raspberries and Rascals, released the single, "Where Have You Been All My Life", a minor US #87 hit. Despite the solid tunes, the album is best known for its cover, featuring an underage girl in makeup.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Your Kisses They Burn


Robert Gordon w/ Link Wray : Fire


In March 1978 rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon released Fresh Fish Special, his second album with the legendary guitarist Link Wray. Named after Elvis' haircut in Jailhouse Rock, the album was recorded with The King's backing vocalists, The  Jordanaires, performing on five numbers. 

Better than the debut, Fresh Fish Special has a similar combination of originals and covers ( including The Johnny Burnette Trio's "Lonesome Train", Gene Vincent's "Five Days, Five Days" and Elvis' "I Want To Be Free", a lesser known song from the Jailhouse Rock soundtrack.).

 The album is best known for Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" which was written especially for Gordon. This is the version that should have been a hit, but The Pointer Sisters beat Gordon to it, hitting US#2 in 1979.  Gordon and Wray toured with Blondie before amicably parting ways in the Summer of 78.




Friday, March 16, 2018

Two To Tumble


Elvis Costello : The Beat



On March 17, 1978 Elvis Costello released his second album, This Year's Model. It would be selected as the best album of the year by the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll, topping releases by Nick Lowe, The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads and the Clash.


To these ears, This Year's Model is a dramatic departure from the straight ahead pub rock of My Aim Is True. And I'm frankly surprised that Costello doesn't share songwriting credit with the musicians who helped him invent this sound, The Attractions. Listen to Steve Nieve's keyboards  on "The Beat", Bruce Thomas's bass on "Pump It Up" and Pete Thomas's drums on "Lipstick Vogue".  Could Costello have really brought this much life to songs with a guitar and a cassette player?



This is a tight, punchy band who brought road tested into London's Eden Studios where they bashed out the album in eleven days. Costello is snarling. His lyrics are bitter takes on romantic angst. If you had to pick one Elvis Costello album to own, this would be it.




A few other takes.

Robert Christgau :

Anyone who thinks it's uninfluenced ( by punk)  should compare the bite and drive of the backup here to the well-played studio pub-rock of his debut and ask themselves how come he now sounds as angry as he says he feels. I find his snarl more attractively musically and verbally than all his melodic and lyrical tricks, and while I still wish he liked girls more, at least I'm ready to believe he's had some bad luck.



From Rolling Stone:


This Year's Model is the most "punk" of Costello's records -- not in any I-hate-the-cops sense but in his emotionally explosive writing ("No Action," "Lipstick Vogue," "Pump It Up") and the Attractions' vicious gallop (particularly the psycho-circus organ playing of Steve Nieve). Many of the songs rattle with sexual paranoia, but the broadside against vanilla-pop broadcasting, "Radio, Radio" (a U.K. single added to the original U.S. vinyl LP), better reflects the general, righteous indignation of the album: Costello vs. the world. And Costello wins.




From  Paul Stokes's 1001Albums You Must Hear Before You Die:


Uncompromising and vicious, This Year's Model is no meaningless rant. It cuts deeply, and tellingly, straight to the bone. Revenge and guilt might scare off other songwriters, but among the anger and disgust Costello finds his truth.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Wasn't It Fabulous


Generation X : Ready Steady Go


On March 17, 1978 punk rock's most unabashedly commercial band, Generation X, led by the peroxide bleached Billy Idol released their debut album. The cover shot is by Gered Mankowitz, who was also responsible for The Rolling Stones's Between The Buttons. Here was a punk band that actually admitted they loved The Beatles and The Stones.

Outside of the U.K. #47 single, "Ready Steady Go", and the six minute Bob "Derwood" Andrews guitar raver, "Youth Youth Youth", that closes the album I'm not hearing how this record wound up on the Village Voice's Pazz and Jop Critics Poll that year ( albeit at #29 out of 30 ). 

One more Generation X album would follow before Idol released an EP that predicted a solo career was next. It's title: Dancing With Myself. 


Robert Christgau gave the album a B+ grade, writing:

This band's notorious commitment to pop is evident mostly in surprising harmonies and song structures--musically, they're not trying to be cute. And although as singles "Your Generation," "Ready Steady Go," and "Wild Youth" never knocked my socks off, they're the nucleus of a tough, consistent, inventive album. Who said punk rock was dead?










Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Deal to Disappear


Jules and the Polar Bears : You Just Don't Want to Know


From 1978, some ridiculously catchy power pop from Jules and the Polar Bears whose debut album on Columbia, Got No Breeding, was a critical fave. "Jules" is the prolific songwriter Jules Shear ( Cyndi Lauper's "All Through the Night", The Bangles's "If She Knew What She Wants")  who would be romantically involved with Aimee Mann and from 1989 to 1991 host MTV's Unplugged series.



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Swing It Sugar


 (album version)


On March 16, 1978 multi-instrumentalist punk funkster Rick James released his first single for the Gordy label, the US R+B #1 smash "You And I".  James had come along way from his days in The Mynah Birds with Neil Young, Bruce Palmer ( Buffalo Springfield) and Goldie McJohn (Steppenwolf). Signed to Motown, the corn-rowed performer would release his first album, the million selling Come Get It later in 1978. He's have a good four year run culminating with "Super Freak" in 1981.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Perspex Window Panes


X Ray Spex : The Day the Earth Turned Day-Glo


"I try to make people fink." 
-Poly Styrene


In March of 1978, X Ray Spex released their second single, the U.K. #23 "The Day The Earth Turned Day-Glo". Six months after "Oh Bondage Up Yours", Poly Styrene is again belting out a song about commercialism run amuck.

I clambered over mounds and mounds
 Of polystyrene foam
 And fell into a swimming pool
 Filled with fairy snow 


Little did she know day-glo fashions were on their way back. By the mid 80's grown men were wearing Izod shirts and cargo pants the color of neon vomit.





Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sweet And Heady





On March 11, 1978  the English singer Elkie Brooks's rendition of "Lilac Wine" peaked in the UK charts at #16. Brooks had once sung alongside Robert Palmer in a progressive rock band called Vinegar Joe. Her biggest U.K. hit was 1986's "No More The Fool". Brooks is the only singer to have a hit with "Lilac Wine". Other well known versions are by  Nina Simone and Jeff Buckley, who covered the song on Grace





Friday, March 9, 2018

Some Kinds of Pride



Buzzcocks : Moving Away From The Pulsebeat


On March 10, 1978 The Buzzcocks released their debut album, Another Music in a Different Kitchen. The Manchester quartet has  often been heralded as one of the era's great singles band, which is why their compilation,  Singles Going Steady, is  an essential album in any rock fan's collection. But digging deeper into their albums is also quite rewarding, especially their first one.



Recording at Olympic Studios, the band was in high spirits as they recorded songs they'd been playing live for months.

"What you hear is what we did," guitarist Steve Diggle tells Mojo. "But (producer Martin Rushent)  was great to work with. We'd record three backing tracks for each song, choose the best, and there was none of this 'We'll get it right in the mix' attitude. It wasn't overproduced yet it still sounded unique."



Among the three minute hook-filled songs about relationships and fast cars, there's a seven minute percussive number called "Moving Away from the Pulsebeat"  that may be anticipating Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow.

The UK#55 single "I Don't Mind" and "Autonomy" would both wind up on Singles Going Steady.


Naturally, all of us in the US missed out on The Buzzcocks, but 40 years later we can finally get on board. This is a definitive band that burned bright and burned fast. Three albums in 18 months! 


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Survival of the Fittest


The Weirdos : We Got the Neutron Bomb



In March of 1978 The Weirdos, a punk band made up of Los Angeles art schoolers, released the classic single "We Got the Neutron Bomb" on the famed Dangerhouse label. The band was discovered by Peter Case, then of The Nerves, and were thought revolutionary because they had no drummer and would glue anything from gardening equipment to kitchen gadgets on three piece leisure suits. They would share the stage with everyone from The Germs to X during the first wave of LA punk.

Regretfully, the lyrics to "Neutron Bomb" sound like something tRump just tweeted:

United Nations and NATO won't do 
 It's just the red, white and blue 
 We got the neutron bomb.







Monday, March 5, 2018

The Worst Albums of 1978


The death knell of progressive rock, Emerson Lake and Palmer's contractual obligation album Love Beach features "Taste Of My Love", maybe the worst song about groupie sex ever.

Call up Room Service for some peaches and cream, 
I like my dessert first if you know what I mean' 

And in case you don't what Greg Lake  means ( courtesy of Pete Sinfield) he adds

Climb on my rocket And we'll fly

The recording sessions were contentious even though the trio spent the entire time in The Bahamas. If you think the album cover is bad, wait until you drop needle to record. Rolling Stone critic Michael Bloom wrote "Love Beach isn't simply bad; it's downright pathetic. Stale and full of ennui, this album makes washing the dishes seem a more creative act by comparison".




Two million people bought the soundtrack to the god awful 1978 movie, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. While the Aerosmith version of The Beatles' "Come Together" and Earth Wind and Fire's "Got To Get You Into My Life" are fine, everybody else associated with this project lost face, especially Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees. who were on the most stunning of streaks at the time.

Robin Gibb certainly didn't help matters by boasting "There is no such thing as the Beatles now. They don't exist as a band and never performed Sgt Pepper live in any case. When ours comes out, it will be, in effect, as if theirs never existed." 




The bully of The Beach Boys, Mike Love, somehow convinced Brian Wilson and Al Jardine to show up at the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa,  where they recorded the worst album in Beach Boys history. Dennis Wilson and his brother Carl wanted nothing to do with the record.

 In fact, When asked about M.I.U. Album in the British press, Dennis Wilson said that he "[doesn't] believe in that album" and that it was "an embarrassment to my life. It should self-destruct... I hope that the karma will fuck up Mike Love's meditation forever." Brian Wilson says he doesn't remember making the album, claiming a "mental black out" during the period.



On September 18, 1978 all four members of KISS released solo albums. Drummer Peter Criss, relying on songs from his pre-Kiss band, Lips, fared the worst critically and commercially but still sold a million copies. 

Noted only for the cocaine song, "That's the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes".




With help from the likes of Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Bob Seger, Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, Donna Summer and Cher, Gene Simmons' solo album is actually pretty entertaining for a complete cluster fuck, highlighted ( or low-lighted)  by a straight reading of the Disney classic "When You Wish Upon a Star".



Sunday, March 4, 2018

Disguised in Violence



Steel Pulse : Ku Klux Klan


In March of 1978, the English reggae band Steel Pulse released "Ku Klux Klan", the band's debut single for Island Records. It was a preview of their outstanding U.K. Top 10 debut album Handsworth Revolution, named for their hometown, the Handsworth district of Birmingham.

 Steel Pulse came up playing in London punk clubs on the same stages as XTC and The Stranglers, earning the nickname "Jah Punk" among fans. Steel Pulse would attack racism again and again,  aligning themselves with Rock Against Racism, playing an RAR concert at the end of April 1978 featuring The Clash,  X-Ray Spex, The Ruts, Sham 69, and the Tom Robinson Band.  

On "Jah Pickney RAR" from their second album, David Hinds would sing "Rock against racism, smash it/ Rock against Fascism, smash it/ we're gonna hunt...the National Front".





Saturday, March 3, 2018

Desire And Hunger


Patti Smith Group : Because the Night


On March 3, 1978 Patti Smith released Easter, her first album since that terrifying 12 foot tumble from a Florida stage which put her in a neck brace for three months. With Jimmy Iovine producing, and a hit single written by Bruce Springsteen, Patti scored a her first Top 20 album. It was the first album of hers that I owned and I can't say I enjoyed it at first. The poet priestess seems to emerge in every other song, spouting out some kind of babelogue ( her word). At other times, the band seemed to rock by numbers, with a kind of mainstream sheen.  And what's with a song called "Rock and Roll Nigger"?

  Horses is the great Patti Smith album. Easter is that difficult third album. Flashes of brilliance. But not sustained the way it is on Horses.



Over time, the album has gained more fans than detractors which makes Dave Marsh's five star Rolling Stone review a much more interesting read:

Easter makes good on Patti Smith's biggest boast — that she is one of the great figures of Seventies rock and  roll. More importantly perhaps, it focuses her mystical and musical visions in a way that makes her the most profoundly religious American popular performer since Jim Morrison. Clearly, there are bothersome contradictions between Smith's arrogance and her preachings, between her utter belief in the power of her own will and her absolute certainty that society's only salvation lies in a return to ecstatic ritual surrender. But Easter, like the rite on which it is based, can't be apprehended rationally: you either take it on faith or not at all.




The magic of Easter is undeniable. It is transcendent and fulfilled, and its radiance must be honored. No one else could have made this record — something that can't be said of most LPs — and for a special reason: no one else in rock and roll would have the nerve to connect Lou Reed, the Bible, Rim-baud, the Paiutes, Jim Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and the MC5. I don't suppose Patti Smith can walk on water. But I'd like to see her try.



Robert Christgau was another fan, giving Easter an A-:

As basic as ever in its instrumentation and rhythmic thrust, but grander, more martial. That's what she gets for starting an army and hanging out with Bruce Springsteen (not to mention lusting after Ronnie Spector), and she could have done a lot worse: the miracle is that most of these songs are rousing in the way they're meant to be. Meanwhile, for bullshit--would it be a Patti Smith album without bullshit?--there's the stuff about "niggers" and "transformation of waste," and as if to exemplify the latter there's a great song from Privilege, a movie I've always considered one of the worst ever. Guess I'll have to look at it again.




  Easter would finish #14 in the Village Voice Pazz and Jop critics poll and #9 in the Sounds Magazine. The single "Because The Night" topped the latter's singles poll and was a runner up in both Rolling Stone's critics and readers poll.







Thursday, March 1, 2018

Castrated Castro


Nick Lowe : Nutted By Reality


In March of 1978, Nick Lowe released a marvelous collection of inspired, bashed out, pure pop songs called Jesus of Cool. One of punk's premier producers ( responsible for knocking out albums by The Damned, Elvis Costello and Graham Parker), Lowe was also the first artist to release a single on the Stiff Records label. "So It Goes" and its B side "Heart of the City" are here.  So is "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass",  Lowe's biggest hit single, released a month earlier.


What's most impressive about Lowe is his ability to change musical styles, something reflected by the album cover with five different pictures of Lowe and one of pal Dave Edmunds. Consider the deep cut, "Nutted By Reality", which sounds like a Jackson 5 cover before suddenly turning a page and sounding like a poppy Paul McCartney hit. This album is too much fun and proved to worth pulling from of the shelves every time I had a radio show at college. 




From Rolling Stone :

Nick Lowe, the man who produces Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, is a rising deity on the English pop front. But as you might guess from the title of this LP and its English equivalent (The Jesus of Cool), Lowe replaces Costello's nerved-up sneer with a snicker, and Pure Pop for Now People is a catalog of socko production effects held together with one-shot jokes.

 Though much of the music is addictive and winning in the myriad fashions of the Bay City Rollers, Wings, Thin Lizzy or even the latter-day David Bowie, the cover photos give fair warning that what you're holding is a novelty record, an admiring vivisection of other people's hit singles. And the rush of industry-trend seismographers to kiss off punk rock in time to champion Lowe as the messiah of "power pop" shouldn't fool anyone about this album's importance, which is slight.






 Nick Lowe first came into earshot as a member of the seminal Brinsley Schwarz band; on Pure Pop for Now People, Lowe's "Heart of the City," with its machine-gun drumming and an unremitting guitar riffs from Dave Edmunds, is two quick minutes of the feverish pub rock that won him his nickname of "Basher."

 Women, in Lowe's droogishly satirical cosmography, are "meat" -- figuratively in "Heart of the City" and literally in "Marie Provost," the melodic and macabre tale of a decomposing silent-film star who is snacked on by her pet dachshund in a Hollywood hotel. 

 While Lowe affects to be astounded by the crassness of showbiz -- "The Called It Rock" and "Music for Money" are diatribes against the music business -- he comes off the wall of his alienation so hard and fast that we can only guess at his humanity, not always feel it.




 Like most parody/tributes, this record teases with approximations. "(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass," for example, yokes its nearly breathtaking attractiveness to a hollow chattiness that finds refuge in sarcasm. Nick Lowe surely has the sit to know that pop-drenched disaffection is a dead end, but it'll be interesting to watch him as he tours America, playing the pawn in the kind of sales schemes he rails against. We might even get to see where his heart is.

From Robert Christgau's A rated review :

This is an amazing pop tour-de-force demonstrating that if the music is cute enough the words can be any old non-cliche. Lowe's people cut off their right arms, castrate Castro, love the sound of breaking glass, roam with alligators in the heart of the city, and go to see the Bay City Rollers. But because the hooks cascade so deftly, I care about every one of them. As for Lowe, this Inspirational Verse: "She was a winner/Who became a doggie's dinner/She never meant that much to me.