Posts Tagged ‘Joe Jackson’

Image may contain: one or more people

Joe Jackson announced the release of his 20th studio album on January. 18th, 2019. The eight-track LP is named Fool and follows 2015’s Fast Forward. Next year also marks the 40th anniversary of his debut album, Look Sharp.

“When it looked like I’d be recording in late July and mixing around my birthday, in August, it struck me that the only other occasion that had happened was while making my first album,” Jackson said in a statement. “It still took a while for it to sink in: This would be 40 years since my debut album release.

Jackson noted that the “road to this album is littered with the wrecks of songs and half-songs that didn’t make the grade. There are eight survivors, which I think is enough. … I never have an overall theme in mind when I start trying to write songs for an album, but sometimes one will develop. In this case it’s Comedy and Tragedy, and the way they’re intertwined in all our lives. The songs are about fear and anger and alienation and loss, but also about the things that still make life worth living: friendship, laughter, and music, or art, itself. I couldn’t have done this in 1979. I just hadn’t lived enough.”

You can watch the video for the first single, “Fabulously Absolute,”

The album was produced by Jackson along with Pat Dillett, who’s previously worked with David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens and others. Joe Jackson and his band – Teddy Kumpel, Graham Maby and Doug Yowell – launch a North American tour on February running until Mar. 9, with dates in Europe and the U.K. to follow.

Advertisements

Analog Planet’s Michael Fremer reviewed our trio of Joe Jackson reissues and came away impressed: “As we’ve come to expect from Intervention, the Tip-on packaging is first rate as is Kevin Gray’s mastering from analog tape, pressed on 180 gram vinyl at RTI.” But wait there’s more!  On “Look Sharp!” .. you’ll love the reissue, which offers sharper, cleaner transients, improved transparency and focus and greater dynamics. It preserves a pulsing energy the original softens and diminishes.” I’m the Man: “ … this Intervention reissue smokes the original in all of the ways that matter on a drum’n’bass’n’guitar driven record: sharper, cleaner transients, greater dynamic slam, and bass that digs all the way down.Night and Day”… The Intervention reissue again beats the original A&M Records release in every way .

Joe Jackson’s “angry young man” stance came late in the cycle and so at the time was less than fully convincing. Elvis and Graham had already been there and done that. The picture of Jackson on the back cover of his debut Look Sharp (IR-005) just wasn’t convincing.

Image result for joe jackson images

More importantly, the music and especially the lyrics seemed derivative but boy, could the band play and cut those sharp-edged rhythms! Songs like “Sunday Papers” covered familiar territory but the hook on “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” dug in and the songs were generally tightly sprung and well crafted though “Happy Loving Couples” sounded way too much like “Less Than Zero”. On the Reggae rhythmed “Fools in Love” Jackson is a cynical outsider looking at love from a particularly jaundiced and needy point of view. Overall, his social commentary lacked focus and bite, while his relationship songs came across as bitter. Jackson knew how to modulate the dynamics and exhibited a musical sense that indicated he was low-balling his abilities to fit the time’s stripped down ’50’s derived musical fashion.

Look Sharp! was simply but cleanly recorded in what sounds like mono. If you like the original, you’ll love the reissue, which offers sharper, cleaner transients, improved transparency and focus and greater dynamics. It preserves a pulsing energy the original softens and diminishes. Cymbals chime smartly, Graham Maby’s bass lines are tautly drawn, and Dave Haughton’s drum kit produces slam the original blunts. Plus the pressing quality helps produce blacker backgrounds.

Image result for joe jackson images

Jackson’s follow-up “I’m The Man” features a cover showing Jackson as consummate flim-flam man and while the title song is about a material goods salesman, it can also be seen as Jackson getting ready to slough off the Get Sharp! “musical hula-hoops” image, though the title tune may be Jackson’s pinnacle as a hard rocker.

The album opens with “On the Radio”, a sweet revenge song that also indicates the production has softened and warmed somewhat the debut album’s hard and bright edges. In “Geraldine and John” Jackson cynically observes a cheater and a break-up. “Kinda Cute” again cuts too close to the bone of an Elvis Costello song. Later on “The Band Wore Blues Shirts”, which has in parenthesis (a true story), Jackson paints an empty picture of being a musician in a nightclub house band. In “Don’t Wanna Be Like That”, Jackson paints a negative picture of the L.A. scene from his particular point of view, again as an outsider. At the end his bitterness sharply pokes through his observational stance as he hints at his own predicament: “And the Playboy centerfold leaves me cold/And that ain’t ’cause I’m a fag”. The album’s final few songs are lyrically unfocused, or rather, inconsequential relationship observations as if Jackson’s attention span on the subject was spent—though “Amateur Hour” features a lovely melody.

Again, this Intervention reissue smokes the original in all of the ways that matter on a drum’n’bass’n’guitar driven record: sharper, cleaner transients, greater dynamic slam, and bass that digs all the way down. The perspective is again nearly if not fully mono, which increases the importance of the instrumental separation and clarity.

I’m the Man came across then and now as a “bridge” album to either more of the same next time, which would have been a career-stall, or something new demonstrating musical and personal growth. Still, probably few fans were prepared for Night and Day, where Jackson basically said “fuck this angry young man shit, here’s who I really am (musically and otherwise).”

Image result for joe jackson night and day

On the front cover Jackson is seen at the piano (where he dared not previously go) in a Hirschfeld-like pen and ink sketch, looking very much like the Cole Porter toward which the album’s title points. The newly liberated Jackson is shown in the gatefold “deal with it” photo standing before a plethora of keyboard and mallet instruments—all percussion—plus a couple of bass guitars. Not an electric guitar in sight but plenty of latin rhythms packed into the grooves.

The album opens with Jackson stepping into a rhythmically sophisticated “Another World” backed by congas and xylophone. Jackson’s liberation continues song by song as he’s moved beyond “boy/girl” to more sophisticated fare. “Stepping Out” presents the newly liberated Jackson in full sophisticated flower but not before the embarrassing Talking Heads rip-off “T.V. Age”, which I bet Jackson wishes he could take back.

“Real Men” gets to the heart of where Jackson’s been heading—the sexual liberation and another dose of tearful bitterness because he’s not one of the pretty boys he’s observing and in any case, liberation is leading to confusion. It’s a powerful song and worlds away from “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”. It’s Jackson being really tough but without shouting and on the final tune you hear Jackson finally singing satisfied about his relationship instead of observing others—though he’s still got a bitch, but it’s about the club D.J..

The Intervention reissue again beats the original A&M in every way as above. I think Mobile Fidelity once issued this years ago and I had it but got rid of it I can’t remember why, but probably because the old Mo-Fi regime laid on the excess bass and muddied the middle.

Fans of these records will want all three but more casual fans looking for one should get Night and Day both for the music and far more sophisticated ‘recorded in New York City’ sound.

As we’ve come to expect from Intervention, the Tip-on packaging is first rate as is Kevin Gray’s mastering from analog tape, pressed on 180 gram vinyl at RTI.

Image may contain: 2 people, indoor

This year Pixx is gearing up to release her first full-length debut album, but in the meantime she’s shared a live cover of Joe Jackson’s ‘It’s Different For Girls’.

At first, the lyrics Jackson’s 1979 song might sound as if he was singing about a man who goes out looking for sex, while his partner is in search of love. But in fact it’s actually the opposite way around. That switch-around of stereotypical gender roles seems almost the perfect fit for Pixx’s thoughtful, and thought-provoking, pop.

She turns the post-punk tune into a vintage guitar-led number that occasionally bursts forth with clashing cymbals. The floaty melodies means that Pixx’s voice is at the forefront, so if you didn’t get the twist when Jackson told it, you certainly will here.

Listen to the cover of ‘It’s Different For Girls’ below.

http://

so good live and a great songwriter

500 Reasons Why The 80's Didn't Suck

What a shame Elvis Costello and Graham Parker released stellar albums at the same time Joe Jackson released Look Sharp!, his debut, in 1979. Parker unleashed Squeezing Out Sparks, arguably his finest, and Costello published Armed Forces, also arguably his finest. But Jackson, the quintessential angry young man and every bit their equal, should never be forgotten as one of the classics, and his albums from 1979-1983 are documents that prove he should have been more revered/popular than he was/is.

look sharpStarting with the debut, then: Look Sharp! was my introduction to Jackson when I was but a wee lad, and the track Sunday Papers is the reason I started playing the bass guitar. Rife with cod reggae, humor, punk anger, plenty of pop hooks (like the massive hit Is She Really Going Out With Him?,One More Time, Look Sharp and Pretty Girls, and all the rest, really) and…

View original post 922 more words