H.E.A.R. Honors Joe Jackson
JOE JACKSON has spent the better part of his career keeping
one jump ahead of his audience; so successfully that many
of his fans have given up the chase. But now, after a musical
odyssey that has taken him into classical, jazz and Latin
music, he has returned to his point of departure with spectacular
results. Having reconvened the Joe Jackson Band, with whom
he recorded his first three albums between 1979 and 1980,
he has released a new album, Volume 4, featuring a fresh batch
of songs written and recorded in the snappy, new-wave pop
vein of his earliest work.
Coming 25 years after Jackson's debut, "Look Sharp," the
man has reassembled the original band who played on his first
three records [Graham Maby, Gary Sanford, and Dave Houghton],
and it doesn't sound like they've missed a beat. Right off
the bat, the album jumps into the rock foray with "Take It
Like A Man," a drum-driven piece with stacatto piano riffs
peppered throughout. The song really gets your blood pumping.
The next two tracks, "Stay Alive" and the single "Awkward
Age" showcase Jackson's uncanny ability to write a damn good
pop song. The former will remind you of the Beatles, while
the latter will make you think of the aforementioned Mr. Costello.
Joe brings the band down for "Chrome" and "Love At First Light,"
showcasing the quiet side of his songwriting abilities. The
album continues to jump back into "rock" mode, though, so
don't fret if ballads aren't your thing. "Fairy Dust," with
it's wah-wah guitar and 5/4 time signature sounds a bit like
modern jazz, but there's too much edge here to dare let you
lump it in those quarters. Album closer "Bright Grey" is one
of the punkest songs- this new crop of nu-pop-punk bands could
take a lesson from this master. And let's not forget what
could be the comedy hit of the year - Jackson's hilarious
sendup of hip hop poseurs in the song "Thugz 'R' Us." All
in all, this is a fantastically solid album, and it will surely
please anyone who was ever a fan of his older work from the
late 70s/early 80s. The first pressing of the album comes
with a bonus disc containing 6 Joe Jackson classics being
performed live last fall.