Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Joe Jackson

Breaking us in two

Different for girls
(yea yea I know, 1979 but it got it's push on MTV so we are letting the non 80's date slide just for this time).

This next review has been long overdue. One of the true joys for us here at the TA Big 80s. So sit back and enjoy the extremely talented, Mr. Joe Jackson.

Joe Jackson (born David Ian Jackson, 11 August 1954, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire) is an English musician and singer-songwriter, described as a unique and critically acclaimed recording artist, whose five Grammy nominations span 1979 to 2001. He is probably best-known for the 1979 hit song "Is She Really Going Out with Him?", which still gets extensive FM radio airplay; for his 1982 hit, "Steppin' Out"; and for his 1984 hit, "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)".

Along with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, Jackson was a part of the trio of British-based artists that challenged the punk scene and brought a New Wave sound to the United States in the late 1970s. He was popular for his power-pop and New Wave sound early on before moving to more eclectic, though less commercially successful, pop/jazz/classical musical pieces.

Although born in Staffordshire, David Jackson (as he was then known) grew up in Gosport and Portsmouth.

He started off learning to play the violin but soon switched to piano. From the age of sixteen he played in bars, and won a scholarship to study musical composition at London's Royal Academy of Music. Jackson did not like the prospect of being a serious composer, and moved towards pop and rock.

Jackson's first band was Edward Bear, not to be confused with the 1970s Canadian band fronted by Larry Evoy, which had a mid 1970s hit with "Last Song". The band was later renamed Arms and Legs, in order to avoid confusion with the Canadian group. Arms and Legs dissolved in 1976 after two unsuccessful singles. Although he was still known as David Jackson while in Arms & Legs, it was around this time that Jackson picked up the nickname "Joe", based on his perceived resemblance to the puppet character Joe 90.

Joe Jackson, as he now called himself, then spent some time in the cabaret circuit to make money to record his own demos.

In 1978 a record producer heard his tape, and got him signed to A&M Records. The album Look Sharp! was recorded straight away, and was released in 1979, quickly followed by I'm the Man (also 1979) and Beat Crazy in 1980. He also collaborated with Lincoln Thompson in reggae crossover.

The Joe Jackson Band was very successful and toured extensively. After the breakup of the band, Jackson took a break and recorded an album of old-style swing and blues tunes, Jumpin' Jive, featuring songs of Cab Calloway, Lester Young, Glenn Miller, and most prominently, Louis Jordan.

Jackson hit paydirt with 1982's Night and Day, an album that paid tribute to the wit and style of Cole Porter (and indirectly to New York City). Night and Day was Jackson's only album to reach the Top 10, peaking at #4, and the cuts "Steppin' Out" and "Breaking Us In Two" were chart hits, the latter of which was widely notable for the borrowed opening melody from Badfinger's "Day After Day". The tracks "Real Men" and "A Slow Song" have pointed obliquely to the city's early 80s gay culture. Jackson would call New York home for the next twenty years, incorporating the sound of the city into his music throughout the 1980s and beyond.
Jackson recorded the #20 album Body and Soul, also heavily influenced by pop and jazz standards and salsa, showcasing the #15 hit "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)". The album was a modest commercial success and is widely regarded among audiophiles as a digital recording of the highest quality.

In 1986 he collaborated with Suzanne Vega on the single "Left of center" from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack (with Vega singing and Jackson playing piano).

Jackson followed with Big World, a three-sided double record (the fourth side consisted of a single centring groove and a label stating "there is no music on this side"), which was recorded live. The instrumental "Will Power" set the stage for things to come later, but before he left pop behind he put out two more cerebral and celebratory albums, Blaze of Glory and Laughter & Lust. For some years he drifted away from the pop style, going on to be signed by Sony Classical in 1997, which released his Symphony No. 1 in 1999 for which he received a Grammy Award.
In 1990, thrash metal band Anthrax recorded a cover of Jackson's "Got The Time" for their Persistence of Time album, which got considerable airplay on MTV.

Jackson is also an author, having written A Cure for Gravity, published in 1999, which Jackson has described as a "book about music, thinly disguised as a memoir". It traces his early musical life from childhood until his twenty fourth birthday. Life as a pop star, he suggested, was hardly worth writing about.

In 2001, Tori Amos covered Jackson's song "Real Men" on her album Strange Little Girls.
In 2002 "Steppin' Out" appeared in the popular videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, playing on pop radio station Flash FM. A loop of the instrumental portion of this song is used as the theme tune for the WYES-TV (New Orleans) weekly arts and entertainment program "Steppin' Out."

In 2003, he reunited his original quartet for an album (entitled Volume 4, implying that it was the follow-up to his first three albums with the original band) and lengthy tour. As before the quartet consisted of Jackson, Graham Maby, Dave Houghton and Gary Sanford.

In 2004 Jackson performed a cover of Pulp's "Common People", with William Shatner for Shatner's album Has Been.

Jackson toured 45 U.S. and European cities in 2005 with Todd Rundgren and the string quartet Ethel, appearing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien performing their collaborative cover version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

Thereafter, he embarked on a short tour in a piano-bass-drums trio format. He toured Europe in Spring 2007, again in a trio format, and announced that he is recording. Jackson's new album, Rain was released by Rykodisc on 28 January 2008 in the UK and one day later in the U.S. The album will include a CD and a bonus DVD containing over 40 minutes of material, including concert and behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. Jackson plans to perform two UK shows in Spring 2008, followed by a full UK tour later that year.

In 2008, Jackson's "One More Time" was used in Taco Bell commercials in the U.S.
In 2003 Jackson left the city that had been his home for more than two decades, and returned to Portsmouth, England, where he has a flat in the oldest part of the city that overlooks the harbor. Recently, in the DVD interviews in Rain, it has stated that he moved to Berlin in early 2007.
He has been quoted as saying he now spends most of his time in Berlin, but still has places in Portsmouth and New York City. He is often spotted in city pubs that serve real ale, his enthusiasm for which is noted in his autobiography, A Cure For Gravity.

Look Sharp! (1979, A&M) #20 U.S., #40 UK
I'm the Man (1979, A&M) #22 U.S., #12 UK
Beat Crazy (1980, A&M) #41 U.S., #42 UK
"The Harder They Come" (EP) 1980
Jumpin' Jive (1981, A&M) #42 U.S., #14 UK
Night and Day (1982, A&M) #4 U.S., #3 UK
Mike's Murder (1983, A&M) #64 U.S.
Body and Soul (1984, A&M) #20 U.S., #14 UK
Big World (1986, A&M) #34 U.S., #41 UK
Will Power (1987, A&M) #131 U.S.
Live 1980/86 (1988, A&M) #91 U.S., #66 UK
Tucker Original Soundtrack (1988, A&M)
Blaze of Glory (1989, A&M) #61 U.S., #36 UK
Laughter & Lust (1991, Virgin) #116 U.S., #41 UK
Night Music (1994, Virgin)
Heaven & Hell (1997, Sony)
This Is It! (The A&M Years 1979-1989) (Joe Jackson) (1997, A&M)
Symphony No. 1 (1999, Sony)
Summer in the City: Live in New York (2000, Sony)
Night and Day II (2000, Sony)
Two Rainy Nights (2002, Great Big Island)
Volume 4 (2003, Rykodisc)
AfterLife (2004, Rykodisc)
Rain, (2008, Rykodisc)



"Is She Really Going Out with Him?"
Look Sharp!

"Sunday Papers"
Look Sharp!

"One More Time"
Look Sharp!

"Fools In Love"
Look Sharp!

"I'm The Man"
I'm The Man

"It's Different For Girls"
I'm The Man

"Kinda Kute"
I'm The Man

"The Harder They Come"
non-album track

"Jumpin' Jive"
Jumpin' Jive

"Real Men"
Night And Day

"Steppin' Out"
Night And Day

"Breaking Us In Two"
Night And Day

'Mike's Murder' soundtrack

"You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)"
Body And Soul

"Happy Ending"
Body And Soul

"Be My Number Two"
Body And Soul

"Left Of Centre" (Suzanne Vega f/Joe Jackson)
Pretty in Pink (soundtrack)

"Right And Wrong"
Big World

"Is She Really Going Out With Him? (Live)"
Live 1980/1986

"(He's A) Shape In A Drape"
Tucker soundtrack

"Nineteen Forever"
Blaze Of Glory

"Obvious Song"
Laughter And Lust

"Stranger Than Fiction"
Laughter And Lust

"Oh Well"
Laughter And Lust

External links
Official site
Joe Jackson's Myspace

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