WHO IS NICK LOWE?

RSD 2022 saw a welcome re-issue of power pop legend Nick Lowe’s first solo album, originally released in 1978. Filled with catchy songs evoking all the bands you would hope for—Beatles, Badfinger, Kinks—it is infectiously entertaining and great fun. But why is it called Wireless World? And why does the hype sticker mysteriously refer to it as Lowe’s “polyonymous” debut? The first part of the story, at least, is interesting and verifiable.

Following a single release of “So it goes” (on Stiff Records), Lowe’s debut LP was released in the UK with the title Jesus Of Cool. Wise heads at the record company realised this might not be well received by church-going communities in the US of A, so they borrowed the phrase spread across the photo-panels of the British release and called the American version Pure Pop For Now People. Messing about with the photos, track listing and running order customised it further for the US market.

Being mischievous lads, Nick Lowe and a Stiff records sidekick referred to the forthcoming album as Wireless World, a bit of interview silliness a magazine duly reported as a news flash. It wasn’t. So the RSD suggestion that this is somehow another ‘rediscovered’ version of the original 1978 album is a complete beat up. What it is, however, is a fourteen track LP that gathers the songs from both original US and UK versions onto one album.

Interestingly, YepRoc Records (USA) released a 2 LP version of the album in 2008 that replicated the original UK version on the first record and included a further seven songs on a bonus disc. So maybe it really is a record of many names (which is what polyonymous means). Or many versions. Or both. Another talking point is how the wonderful portraits of the artist as a variety of rock and roll characters also changes across versions and countries, which is rather neat (if frustrating for completists!).

Back to the music. Songs like “Heart of the city” and “Shake and pop” really nail the bouncy, literate pop that Nick Lowe specialised in. Wry reflections, tongue-in-cheek observations, and classic song-writing craft make this a most enjoyable listen.

Here, just for fun, are a few bonus Nick Lowe facts.

  • A couple of verses of “So it goes” appear in the cult film Rock And Roll High School.
  • Lowe’s biggest hit in the UK was “I love the sound of breaking glass”.
  • He wrote “(What’s so funny ’bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”, a hit for Elvis Costello.
  • Lowe was in the band Rockpile with Dave Edmunds, who had an Australian Top 5 hit with “I hear you knocking”.
  • He was a member of “super group” Little Village with Ry Cooder and John Hiatt.
  • After the 1978 debut, Lowe released a further thirteen solo albums, often with humorous punning titles such as The Abominable Showman.

First published at Discrepancy Records, May 2022

16 comments

  1. And then I bought another record.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🤣 Fantastic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I knew the album as pure pop… it was played incessantly in my house. Both my older brothers had copies. I can’t remember any of the songs on the album by their title except for so it goes. I’ll spend some time sampling it on spotify. I suspect I’ll remember most of the songs. I once saw Lowe listed as a one hit wonder in some sort of music mag. I reported this to my brother just to set him off (brothers, you know).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great story, Jeff. I’m sure you’ll be singing along in no time. Those early embeddings stick around.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know about the third title – that’s pretty confusing! I like the record though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a bit silly. An RSD beat-up in fact. But as you say, strong record.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kingclover · · Reply

    I knew a few of his songs before like So It Goes and Cruel to Be Kind and Tonight, which I always loved from Lene Lovich’s album, But I never heard this whole album til a few years ago cuz I like the band Los Straitjackets and they did a live album with Nick Lowe and then a covers album of his songs called What’s So Funny About Peace Love etc. with most of these songs. And the album cover was a re-creation of this one with the different Nick Lowes in each square, except instead of pictures of all the Nick Lowes it was Los Straitjackets. But at first glance it looks exactly the same. But anyway, that’s what made me want to have a copy of Jesus of Cool, which I got from Amazon for like 4 bucks or something. ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well done. Bargain price for a very solid album!

      Like

  5. Another fun fact about Mr. Lowe. When David Bowie released his album Low in 1977, Lowe decided to return the favour and released an EP called Bowi.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    I need to spend more time with him. Everything I’ve heard I like, but it’s not much. I love the variants in the photos on the cover, that’s stinking cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great isn’t it? Grown ups playing dress-ups. Always fun. (Well, mostly).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I know him thanks to Elvis Costello, but I have yet to listen to one of his full records. I need to fix that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Matt. This would be a pretty good place to start!
      Cheers
      – Bruce

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Really like this record. Just listened to it a while back. Connected to so much good stuff. Edmunds, Costello, Parker, Dury, Rockpile, T-Birds etc, Obviously I have the ‘Pure Pop’ album because I dwell in North America. Your commonwealth cousin. So many of his tunes are stuck in my cheese head. You sure pick cool records Bruce (Im to lazy to go over and like the Floyd take but good job).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, CB. I’d a guessed you like well crafted pop like Lowe’s. And that’s real good company in your connections list there too.

      Liked by 1 person

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