Nick Lowe is currently mining a rich vein of form, with his third critically acclaimed album in a row (the recently issued "The Convincer"). Whatever you would describe Nick Lowe's music as, however, you would almost certainly not call it blues, which makes it seem a little strange why "Labour of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe" should appear on the Telarc label (www.telarc.com), given that the label's main profile has been quality blues over the last few years. There are a few blues artists featured on it, however, offering their own interpretation of Basher's tunes--Lowe was affectionately nicknamed Basher because he used to always refer to just bashing something down in his earlier days as a producer for the legendary Stiff Records label.
There are a range of styles on offer here, many of which are pretty much straight reworkings of Lowe's originals. It is nice to hear some of the old tunes again, although as with many of the albums in this vein, the new versions do not add a great deal to the originals. Having said that, it is good to hear the like of Graham Parker sounding fit and well, and turning in a good rendition of "The Rose Of England." There are also very good
versions of "Television" and "Cruel To Be Kind" (both featuring Marshall Crenshaw), and the blues trio of "Faithless Lover" (Charlie Musselwhite sounding very mellow), "Soulful Wind" (Guy Davis) and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" (Joe Louis Walker). Perhaps the pick of the tracks though is the very jaunty version of "Half a Boy and Half a Man," which featuring Sleepy LaBeef on vocals and guitar and C.J. Chenier on accordion.
"Labour of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe" is a bit of a strange beast. It certainly has its moments, but I cannot help feeling that I would rather be listening to the originals. It is a shame there is no room for the likes of "Heart of the City" or "I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass" either. "Labour of Love..." is not a blues album, and the blues content is pretty low. If you are looking for a way into Nick Lowe's music, and you know and/or like the featured artists
here, then "Labour of Love..." may be just the ticket you have been looking for.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.