“Arriving in America and hearing Cruel To Be Kind on several Los Angeles radio stations was a trip. We were getting the action and it seemed natural, but I took so much for granted back then. We were making a lot of records and it was no big deal for someone to step up with a great song. Everywhere you turned, somebody had a cool notion going and if it didn’t work, you’d move on to the next thing. We were impatient and spoilt, but it seemed like everyone had a hit record in them.” – Nick Lowe, reflecting on the Labour Of Lust era in the sleeve notes to this reissue.
Proper Records continue their reissue campaign on the Nick Lowe catalogue with the Monday 14th March 2011 release of his second solo album, Labour Of Lust, originally issued in June 1979.
Labour Of Lust contains his biggest solo hit single, the effervescent Cruel To Be Kind, as well as the smoking Cracking Up, and the original version of Without Love, covered in some style by Lowe’s former father-in-law, the late Johnny Cash.
The album was recorded simultaneously with the Dave Edmunds album, Repeat When Necessary, and it is Rockpille who back Nick here, leading to a more combo-orientated sound than on the preceding Jesus Of Cool album.
So, apart from the aforementioned classics, there are also sizzling rockers such as Born Fighter (the title of which was also used for a TV documentary on Lowe shown on ITV around the time, and features Huey Lewis on harmonica), Switchboard Susan (penned by Southend’s own Mickey Jupp), and this reissue also reconciles such territorial track listing anomalies by including the one-off single American Squirm (in which Nick is backed by The Attractions) and the single ‘B’-side, Basing Street.
This beautifully-housed reissue (with its exquisite Barney Bubbles sleeve) comes with excellent liner notes from Will Birch, documenter of the UK Pub Rock scene, as well as an illuminating note from Gregg Geller, Nick’s American A&R man at Columbia Records at the time, whose idea it was to rework Cruel To Be Kind, as well as crisply-remastered sound.