Joe Jackson might be a poor man’s Elvis Costello, but I can’t think of anyone else I could even say that about, so it’s still high praise. Since his first record came out in 1979, I’m going to cheat and include it to give more of a career retrospective. His debut record, Look Sharp, had a cool blend of pop, punk, and ska. Is She Going Out with Him is his greatest single and Sunday Papers isn’t far behind.
He quickly put out a foll0w-up and I’m the Man is almost as good. Here is the title track and It’s Different for Girls.
The next 2 records, Beat Crazy and Jumpin’ Jive, were commercial disappointments, but Jumpin’ Jive was the best swing record put out in decades. Jumpin’ Jive and What’s the Use in Getting Sober.
Jackson’s commercial zenith was after the release of 1982’s Night and Day. Steppin’ Out is his biggest hit, but the most interesting song from the record is Real Men. It is here and also a great live recording of a Slow Song.
Body and Soul followed up Night and Day. While it didn’t achieve the same success, it had 2 killer Jackson tunes, You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) and Be My Number 2. (The latter is my favorite Jackson tune.)
The rest of the decade had Jackson doing soundtracks, live albums, and a classical music-inspired record, but his last effort of the decade, 1989’s Nineteen Forever did feature the excellent Nineteen Forever.
I wrap up with a beautiful cover of Real Men by Tori Amos from the Craig Kilborn show.