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Various Artists: Labour of Love

The Music of Nick Lowe

[cover art]

September 2001 release from Telarc, with Graham Parker, Levon Helm (mandolin on"Soulful Wind," with Guy Davis on vocal) and other artists performing songs by British rocker/ singer/ songwriter and former member of Brinsley Schwarz, Nick Lowe.

Nick Lowe has made many records of his own, but has been largely ignored by the rock audience. Labour of Love seeks to address this wrong, by presenting some of Lowe's best songs covered by a broad collection of performers (including some who also appear on the compilation Down the Dirt Road).

Dar Williams gets things underway with a bouncy version of "All Men Are Liars." G.E. Smith and Doug Wainaris play ringing guitars which echo Lowe's own recordings, but Dar's reading of Nick's lyric adds a appropriate perspective. Graham Parker fronts a band for his version of "Rose of England," showing that he is truly one of rock's hidden treasures. Tom Petty does a Nick Lowe in a mirror version of "Cracking Up." Sleepy LaBeef is joined by Clifton Chenier in a rollicking cajun version of "Half a Boy & Half a Man." Greg Brown, Marshall Crenshaw and Joe Clay each add a song or two doing Lowe, in their own styles. Crenshaw's "Cruel to be Kind" is a highlight!

Joe Louis Walker, Guy Davis and Charley Musselwhite bring a blues sensibility to Lowe's songs, but it fits like a glove. It's tremendous to hear Levon Helm on "Soulful Wind", if he can no longer sing, he can sure still play the mandolin! The album concludes with Elvis Costello's solo, overdubbed, rendition of "Egypt." Mournful and lonely, it ends the album by almost urging you to go back to play the happy tunes again. There can't be anything wrong with that!

Graham Parker, whose talent has been vastly under-rated for years, shows why he is one of rock ' n ' roll's treasures. Even when tackling someone else's song he attacks it with a passion and vitality that stands out from the crowd. Whether working solo with acoustic guitar or fronting a band his distinctive voice and unerring sense of drama creates a highlight on this collection!

The collection was produced by Randy Labbe. It is sonically excellent, with a guitar sound that is bell like. The liner notes are limited, but you won't be worrying about reading when you drop this superb collection into your CD player.

--David Kidney, Green Man Review


  1. All Men Are Liars (Dar Williams)
  2. The Rose of England (Graham Parker)
  3. Cracking Up (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
  4. Half a Boy and Half a Man (Sleepy LaBeef and C.J. Chenier)
  5. Where's My Everything? (Greg Brown)
  6. Television (Marshall Crenshaw)
  7. Shting Shtang (Joe Clay)
  8. When I Wrote the Book (Andrea Re)
  9. Cruel To Be Kind (Marshall Crenshaw and Christine Ohlman)
  10. Faithless Lover (Charlie Musselwhite)
  11. Soulful Wind (Guy Davis and Levon Helm) MPEG-3 file (3.1MB)
  12. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (Joe Louis Walker)
  13. Egypt (Elvis Costello)


  • Greg Brown -- vocals, guitar
  • C.J. Chenier -- accordion
  • Joe Clay -- vocals
  • Elvis Costello -- vocals, guitar, bass, percussion
  • Marshall Crenshaw -- vocals, lead guitar
  • Guy Davis -- vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Levon Helm -- mandolin
  • Sleepy LaBeef -- vocals, lead guitar
  • Charlie Musselwhite -- vocals, harmonica
  • Christine Ohlman -- vocals
  • Graham Parker -- vocals, guitar
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -- vocals, guitar
  • Joe Louis Walker -- vocals, lead guitar
  • Dar Williams -- vocals
  • Cranston Clements -- lead guitar
  • Pete Donnelly -- bass
  • Dr. Friendly -- Wurlitzer
  • Steven Goulding -- drums
  • Steve Holley -- drums
  • Andrea Re -- vocals
  • G.E. Smith -- guitars
  • Doug Wainoris -- lead guitar
  • T-Bone Wolk -- bass and Wurlitzer
Various Artists - Labour of Love - 2001 - Telarc - CD-83538

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