Special Bonus! The liner notes to this import album:
Sometimes it is easy to forget how damn good Joe Jackson was. Totally eschewing now the popular music business for the classical world, Jackson has become a fond memory, a `where are they now' type question. Ever one to display the broadest range of musical styles, he emerged in England at the tail end of the punk period and stood out through his use of witty wordplay (and, not forgetting, his sharp suits). He then decamped to New York, where he recorded some of his most mature material, encompassing his love for jazz and Latin music, before moving into the sphere of Classical Music.
Born in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire in 1954, he trained at the Royal Academy of Music and spent time in pub rock band Arms and Legs. He was also musical director for UK cabaret band Coffee and Cream. His training at the Royal Academy was something Jackson was quick to put down when it threatened to undermine his new wave credential in the late 70's. When pushed on the subject in a 1980 interview he curtly replied "It's totally irrelevant to anything I do now and I don't wish to discuss it."
His first three albums Look Sharp!, I'm The Man and Beat Crazy typified his sardonic young man approach, railing at everything from relationships to former employers and the British Media. Jackson found chart success in both Europe and America, riding the new wave chart success of fellow A&M artists The Police. Never afraid to take musical risks, he made the brave and, some may argue foolish, step of reinventing himself as a 1940's swing and jive pastiche at the height of his new wave success, recording the Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive album. Enjoy his faithful renditions of Jumpin' Jive and Five Guys Named Moe on this collection and decide for yourself.
Jackson reestablished himself with the Night and Day album, his first album that really displayed his broad range of musical influences. Split into a `Night' side and a `Day' side, it provided him with his biggest hit single Steppin' Out.
The 1984 album Body and Soul built on the success of Night and Day, whilst distancing himself further from the rock establishment - dressed in the pastiche of a Sonny Rollins Blue Note sleeve, and recorded live in a Masonic lodge in New York, Jackson was successful at marrying jazz and classical flourishes into his songs. The fantastic US top twenty hit You Can't Get What You Want ('Til You Know What You Want) showed that Jackson had not lost his pop touch.
Returning to his power pop roots with the Big World album in 1986, Jackson toured to great success, although further hit singles were to prove illusive. Tired of playing the pop game, he wrote and recorded his first full length classical piece Will Power. Although a commercial failure, it signaled a return to the style that Jackson would feel happiest working in. He has only released two further pop albums since from this point, 1989's Blaze of Glory, which seemed to be a final rounding up of all the genres he had previously embraced and the more straightforward Laughter and Lust in 1991.
It would be wrong ever to underestimate the ability of Joe Jackson. Now working exclusively in the classical sphere, he appears to have disdain for his period as a pop star, but continues to write original and always interesting material. This CD serves as an excellent overview of Jackson's career during the 70's and 80's featuring his best known hits, the aforementioned Steppin' Out, Is She Really Going Out With Him and It's Different For Girls, plus some choice album selections.
Daryl Easlea, March 2000
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