"I love my label and my label loves me"
Harsh criticism of the glutinous music industry is nothing new. And while it seems like things may be changing, it's hard to deny the old saying that 'the more things change, the more they stay the same.' With the record industry rapidly drifting into a financial hellhole, a timely reissue of Nick Lowe's magnificent critique of the music business seems, well, utterly ironic.
I had never heard the Jesus of Cool record until the AMG Blog hyped me to it a month ago. As a record that defines almost every intricate aspect of trickery the record industry has pulled on artists and the unsuspecting consumer for God knows how long, Jesus of Cool is not only essential listening for those fed up with the current state of the biz, but a cohesive masterwork that defies stereotypes and showcases a true artist speaking his mind. Since finding a used vinyl copy at Westsider Records, Jesus of Cool has not only become a daily listen, but a personal obsession.
Lowe's pissed, and witty as fuck, on the opener, "Music for Money", an elegy for the long gone notion that music is, first and foremost, art. Delivered in an authoritative monotone, lyrics like "Music for Money/ Must get more bucks" are almost comical considering the current state of the record business. But Jesus of Cool, or Pure Pop for Now People as it was titled in the US, isn't just a wry commentary on the bastardization of music, rather an exceptional exercise in genre hopping, as Lowe hits everything from proto-hard rock ("Music for Money"), to guitar slicing disco funk ("I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass"), to 50's goody two shoes pop ("Tonight"), and Thin Lizzy-like Arena rock ("So It Goes"). A record thoroughly entrenched in the AOR (Album Oriented Rock) craze, Lowe also rocks the loose southern jam of "I Love my Label", a biting love note to his record label, in which he sings "They always ask for lots of songs/ Of no more than 2:50 long/ So I write them some".
In some ways Jesus of Cool reminds me a lot of The White Album, especially how Lowe revitalizes played out genres with a touch of pastiche and super tight production. Released thirty years ago this month, Jesus of Cool is a timeless record whose genius lies in it's simplistic approach to universal themes that are as imposing on listeners today as they were in March of '78. If you don't believe me, just read what these guys have, to say about the Jesus of Cool.
Buy Jesus of Cool HERE.
Nick Lowe- Music for Money
Nick Lowe- So It Goes
"I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" Live on Television