So It Goes was a characteristically wry "life on the road" song, a pastiche of the writing style of Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, which included a verse about the sort of wealthy patronage the music that was once the sound of teenage rebellion had started to attract.
Almost 40 years later, Middle Eastern money pays the top acts in the world to go to the arenas that have been custom-built in its backyard, and the brief flowering of punk, during which Lowe was a key figure behind the production desk, looks like the last throes of any rebelliousness in rock'n'roll. The man himself has moved on, or rather consolidated his talents as the quality songwriter he always was, making a living in the ways the industry, as it is now, allows.
"I'm still in the songwriting business," he says, "but it's a tough time to be making records. I get the occasional commission, but the live scene is going great guns, which is strange for a man of my vintage."
For Lowe that mostly means the US, where he has lots of famous friends who are liable to drop in on his gigs if he is nearby and lend a hand. A flavour of that sort of occasion came to Scotland a few years back when he appeared in at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre in a memorable duo with Ry Cooder. Lowe returned to the city's Queen's Hall two years ago, promoting his last album, The Old Magic, but his UK appearances outside London are few and far between. "Things seem to change north of the Border though," he muses. "People seem more tuned in to what I do."
The Lowe career mostly involves American theatres of around the 1000-seat mark. ("I am not required in too many sticky-floored rock joints," is how he puts it.) His audience ranges from the old fans through to "younger" people, who picked up on his songwriting around the turn of the century and a trio of albums -The Impossible Bird, Dig My Mood and The Convincer - that have become known as The Brentford Trilogy.
Mostly he plays solo - welcoming whomever drops by - so that rules out some of his hits, like I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass, but other early songs still get an airing, alongside the tunes that have found a market in Nashville. "I'm always pleased when I pick up a nice cover, when someone takes a song and puts another shirt on it."
It is a talent Lowe has himself in spades - The Old Magic included a version of Costello's The Poisoned Rose that gives the original a challenging run for its money - and it is in evidence aplenty on the Christmas album he never thought he'd make, but which is available in what few record shops are left near you this festive season.
"I had no plans to make another record after The Old Magic. After all, the business is in meltdown, and then my US label asked if I fancied doing a Christmas album. My first reaction was that I certainly did not fancy doing one - I suppose I was quite hoity-toity about it: 'Endanger my hard-won reputation with this tawdry nonsense?' But they persisted."
Lowe conceded that the Christmas record in the US was not the debased article it had become on this side of the Atlantic and that it might be good fun to try to breathe new life into a much-maligned genre. Just to keep folks Stateside guessing, he has called it Quality Street, after a tin box of confectionery that is a staple of the season in the UK, but which presumably means little to the Yuletide USA.
His "Seasonal Selection For All The Family", as it is subtitled, is a scrumptious selection box, mixing a few crunchy originals with a spot of gospel and soft-centred country, an upbeat Silent Night, and a brave, but ultimately entirely successful, version of Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, which Lowe calls "the K2 of Christmas records", leaving the Everest unidentified.
For fans of year-round Lowe, however, the original tracks are the essential sweetmeats. Christmas At The Airport imagines the day of a traveller who fails to make it back to his loved ones and has to make to the best of what is on offer in the fog-bound terminal, while I Was Born In Bethlehem is the bold stroke of a carol sung by the Messiah himself, the Christmas story as told to a neighbour on board the now-departed plane.
Ron Sexsmith contributes the jazzy Hooves On The Roof, a cynic-confounding tale of the contemporary arrival of Rudolph and co, and there is also a song Lowe co-wrote with Cooder over the phone when the latter was persuaded about the project. "At first he snorted in disgust," says Lowe.
Almost as much fun as the off-beat approach to the season in the music is the packaging of the disc, with the album credits delivered as a round-robin letter penned by Lowe himself and the multi-cultural "family" on the cover conceived by his wife Peta. The vivacious cover-star of The Old Magic, Natasha, reappears in fur-trimmed scarlet as a mini-skirted Ms Christmas.
The music also features the same crew of expert players, including drummer Robert Treherne, guitarist Johnny Scott, bassist Matt Radford and Geraint Watkins on keyboards, and is as precisely recorded as we have come to expect of the man once known as "Basher" behind the mixing desk, after his frequent instruction to groups to "bash it down, and we can tart it up later".
Is that skill as a producer no longer in demand, I wondered?
"In the 80s there was a seismic shift in the way records were made, and digital engineers became producers," Lowe explains. "My production style was more as a cheerleader, a father confessor and an end-of-the-pier comedian. My job was to make sure the boys were in the mood and make them do more than they thought they could, and I couldn't be bothered to keep it up.
"Younger people have asked me to come out of retirement. Some kids like that home-made sound, perhaps foolishly. I've resisted so far because I wonder whether they really want it, or just think they do."
Now that sounds very like the reaction that first greeted the suggestion of this year's most original Christmas album. So if I was one of those young musicians, I know what I'd be writing to Santa about.
Quality Street is out now on Proper Records