to alot of the 1980's new-wave type
bands, I've ran down the names before....Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, The Boomtown Rats, a others.....started out doing shit that I thought was GREAT, and then went in a direction that didn't quite get it done for me. For Costello, three albums, for the Pretenders, three albums.....for Jackson, three albums is pretty generous, and like the others, he enjoyed a lot of SUCCESS after I quit listening to their stuff, but that isn't the point, they just weren't doing stuff that I found enjoyable.....
a my senior year, 1979, it was a great year for music, a LOT of great albums coming out, but Jackson's "Look Sharp!" was a monster that could stand up to any of them.
The fall off (for me, personally, only, I must point out again).....the follow up "I'm the Man" also has
a killer title track (although being perfectly honest, I prefer the Monotones cover version on "Twenty First Century Power Pop Riot" which I have just GOT to post sometime), another good single "It's Different For Girls", more reggae tinged stuff ("Geraldine and John")......it's a decent, yet fairly forgettable album, maybe a 2.5 star compared with 4.5 for "Look Sharp".
Next came "Beat Crazy", creditted to The Joe Jackson Band (rather than simply "Joe Jackson" ala the other two albums), and as though to drive the point home, bassist Graham Maby handles vocal chores on the first track.......it's a fairly forgettable album, and titling a track "In Every Dream Home (A Nightmare)"? This Roxy Music fan shakes his head, although the chances of anyone confusing the two are about the same as confusing this Joe Jackson with the left fielder the 1919 Chicago White Sox (a fascinating character in his own right, but I digress, badly)
And that is that for me......I didn't like "Beat Crazy", but after that, Joe went in all kinds of different directions that didn't appeal to me. Old-style swing/blues were his new fasacination, he enjoyd some success with it and props to him for exploring new turf, I just didn't (and don't) care for it.....he had a few other singles which were big, I think "Steppin' Out" was the most notable, but this, for me, was a post-"Armed Forces" Costello, a post-"Learning to Crawl" Pretenders, just something that others enjoyed mightly but just weren't my cup of, well, "Joe"......God what you wouldn't give for my incredible sense o humor!
Have three live shows from the peak years of 1979-80, first a short (8 song) set from Calderone Concert Hall, Hempstead NY 8/31/79......oddly, it does not include "Is She Really Going Out With Him?", his best known number at the time, perhaps this is an incomplete show I am unsure.
Also from 1979, this one earlier in the summer from Amsterdam Holland, this is a much better listen, a fine set list (includes pretty much all the top tunes from the first two albums) and an encore of "Ain't That a Shame".
From 1980 we have a set from Asbury Park NJ, this is a good set as well, includes some "Beat Crazy" stuff as well.....sounds like he was a pretty good live performer as well, these are worthwhile.
Often, he is lumped in a group with Parker and Costello (I did so myself earlier), and, like those two, his best, early work not only stands the test of time, but sounds BETTER today than it did then, Joe simply had LESS great stuff than the other two, but "Look Sharp" and parts of "I'm the Man" really still get the job done for me anyway.
I'm glad he enjoyed some success with his sytlistic changes, wasn't for me, but none of these guys has to please me personally.....thanks for some good tunes Joe.
LOOK SHARP!-01 One More Time/02 Sunday Papers/03 Is She Really Going Out With Him/04 Happy Loving Couples/05 Throw It Away/06 Baby Stick Around/07 Look Sharp!/08 Fools In Love/09 (Do the) Instant Mash/10 Pretty Girls/11 Got the Time
I'M THE MAN-01 On Your Radio/02 Geraldine and John/03 Kinda Kute/04 It's Different For Girls/05 I'm the Man/06 The Band Wore Blue Suits/07 Don't Wanna Be Like That/08 Amatuer Hour/09 Get That Girl/10 Friday
BEAT CRAZY-01 Beat Crazy/02 One to One/03 In Every Dream Home (A Nightmare)/04 The Evil Eye/05 Mad At You/06 Crime Don't Pay/07 Someone Up There/08 Battleground/09 Biology/10 Pretty Boys/11 Fit
HEMPSTEAD NY 8/31/79-01 Look Sharp/02 Get That Girl/03 Friday/04 One More Time/05 Geraldine and John/06 Sunday Papers/07 Baby Stick Around/08 It's Different For Girls
AMSTERDAM HOLLAND 6/1779-01 Look Sharp!/02 Geraldine and John/03 Get That Girl/04 Sunday Papers/05 Baby Stick Around/06 Don't Wanna Be Like That/07 Fools In Love/08 Is She Really Going Out With Him/09 Happy Loving Couples/10 I'm the Man/11 Throw It Away/12 Got the Time/13 Aint That a Shame
ASBURY PARK NJ 8/9/80-01 One To One/02 I'm the Man/03 Beat Crazy/04 Look Sharp!/05 Mad at You/06 Kinda Kute/07 The Evil Eye/08 Pretty Boys/09 On Your Radio/10 Friday/11 Talk/12 Fit/13 Is She Really Going Out With Him/14 I Don't Wanna Be Like That/15 Intros/16 One More Time/17 Ovation and Talk/18 The Harder They Come/19 Got the Time