Nick Lowe Labour of Lust

For some reason, Nick Lowe's second album (1979's Labour of Lust) has been out-of-print for almost two decades. That's hard to believe because it, more than anything else is his discography, captures the genius of Lowe as a musician, songwriter and producer. The album is brutally succinct, with no fat. It kicks off with his biggest hit ("Cruel to be Kind") and works its way through rock, pop and country without pausing for breath. It was essentially performed by Rockpile, Dave Edmonds' band, which Lowe joined back in 1975, and it's clear that they were very tight. They throw themselves into every song with the kind of aplomb that only a band that have been doing this for quite some time can, kind of like a Guided By Voices of their time. Yep Roc's reissue is rather bare bones, simply adding "American Squirm," which appeared on the U.S. version of the album, plus remarkably quiet B-side "Basing Street." Chances are they could have found a few more gems hidden in the vaults, but there is much to be said for leaving such a perfect album intact in its original form. (Yep Roc)