JC 36087 Labour of Lust
Produced by Nick Lowe
Released on July 1979
Find it at GEMM
JC 36087 cover
[high resolution photo]

A s much as you’d like to subsist on a straight diet of Elvis Costello, you know it isn’t healthy. Enter Lowe and his Labour of Lust. Cautious as to how the prurient Lowe would play out in the prudish States, Columbia led with the winning “Cruel To Be Kind” and was rewarded with Nick’s first US hit. The rest of the record is a remarkable achievement, packed with clever pop songs, easy rockers and even a lump-in-the-throat ballad. Recorded with the Rockpile outfit, of whom Lowe was a member, Labour of Lust could be seen as the band’s first installment, with 1980 seeing the release of Seconds. There certainly is a retro rock feel to the record, from the twangy “Without Love” to the Rockpile-penned “Love So Fine.” It’s also a very clever record, more laid back than Elvis, more lascivious too, with winners like “Dose of You” and “American Squirm.” Over the years, I’ve warmed up to every song on here, something that never happened with the work of Rockpile. Lowe makes it look easy (as did Elvis), but Labour of Lust is clearly an inspired effort. Later records would seem overproduced, weary, too quick to thumb through music’s great history book in search of a lick. By contrast, Labour of Lust is like little else before it. It was tucked into the new wave camp from the start, but these short and snappy tunes are really an extension of pop’s legacy. (By contrast, Elvis Costello and Graham Parker and Joe Jackson took a reactionary stance to pop music and delivered it with a sense of outrage that marked them as part of a new guard.) Pure Pop is probably the place to start, and together with Labour forms the bookend to the essential library of Lowe.

JC 36087 back cover JC 36087 picture sleeve
JC 36087 back cover JC 36087 picture sleeve


  1. CRUEL TO BE KIND    (Nick Lowe/Ian Gomm)    3:26
  2. CRACKING UP    2:57
  3. BIG KICK, PLAIN SCRAP    2:27
  4. AMERICAN SQUIRM    2:29
  5. YOU MAKE ME    1:49
  6. SKIN DEEP    3:12
  7. SWITCH BOARD SUSAN    (Mickey Jupp)    3:46
  8. DOSE OF YOU    3:18
  9. WITHOUT LOVE    2:27
  10. BORN FIGHTER    3:07
  11. LOVE SO FINE    (Nick Lowe/Rockpile)    3:52

    All songs written by Nick Lowe unless noted



UK July 1979 Radar LP RAD21 picture sleeve
US 1979 Columbia LP JC 36087 picture sleeve
CAN 1979 Columbia LP AL 36087  
GER 1979 Radar LP RAD-56676 picture sleeve
UK August 11, 2000 Demon CD 620462  


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