December 09, 1985 12:00 PM

Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit

You know what to expect from Lowe, and you get it: a grin of an album, deftly shuffling pub-rock, rockabilly, Tex-Mex and any other good-time rock ‘n’ roll wild cards he might have up his sleeve. Here he leaps out of the gate with the galloping I Knew the Bride (When She Used To Rock and Roll), a title-tells-all vignette of the Big Chill generation. Whether he’s pledging his eagerness to bop till he drops (7 Nights To Rock, originally done by Moon Mullican in 1957), assuring a lady friend that “I want to be your lucky dog” (Lucky Dog) or turning humble (I Can Be the One You Love), Lowe’s schoolboy enthusiasm and ingenuousness keep him from descending into camp. He also has a band of battle-tested veterans—keyboardist Paul Carrack (late of Squeeze), guitarist Martin Belmont (of the Rumour) and drummer Bobby Irwin (of Sinceros). It’s all a bit like chewing gum—a rush of flavor soon exhausted—but you look forward to another stick. And every so often a tune will hang on. Here it’s Indoor Fireworks. No sooner does Lowe start singing than the convoluted, countrified melody and metaphor-mixing lyrics (“You were the spice of life/The gin in my vermouth-/And though the sparks would fly/I thought our love was fireproof”) have you checking the label. Sure enough, it’s an Elvis Costello original. Lowe shows that someone besides the restless tunesmith himself can effectively sing Elvis’ highly personal material. (Columbia)

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