Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Joe Jackson has been one of the most important musical artists in my life for four decades, and it all started with his magnificent 1979 debut album, Look Sharp!. When I wrote about it in the first Great Out Of The Gate post (see below), I mentioned his songwriting, vocals, sense of humor & his incredible band…but I failed to share the names of the talented musicians who made this record (and the two that followed) so jaw-droppingly good: guitarist Gary Sanford, drummer Dave Houghton and bassist Graham Maby. The latter has appeared on the majority of Joe Jackson’s albums, and his name should be included on any list of the all-time great bassists. Having spent the first 5 years of this blog focused on the lesser-played artists in my collection, many of my favorite artists have not been featured too often, and Joe Jackson is no exception. Other than the occasional reference, only his 1986 classic Big World got its own post in the Thirty Year Thursday series back in 2016. I’m thrilled to once again shine a light on one of my heroes.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 1:
I instantly became a lifelong Joe Jackson fan the moment I heard “Is She Really Going Out With Him” blasting out of the radio for the first time in ‘79. It’s been a fun journey following his career through more genres than most artists are even aware of, starting with this blast of new wave that doesn’t have a weak moment over the course of its 11 songs. His songwriting was as strong as the two contemporary artists he was most often compared to (Elvis Costello and Graham Parker), and his unique vocal phrasing, self-deprecating sense of humor & a band that was the equal of The Attractions, The Rumour and even The E Street Band, all combined to make Look Sharp a timeless collection that might otherwise sound dated by now in less capable hands. From the youthful punk-inspired energy of “Got The Time” and “Baby Stick Around” to songs featuring reggae & jazz influences like “Sunday Papers,” “Fools In Love” and “Look Sharp,” I’ve never grown tired of this album…and the same holds true for just about everything in his discography.
I could never choose a favorite Joe Jackson album, as they’ve all impacted me in so many ways, but on any given day Look Sharp! and the aforementioned Big World would be two strong contenders for #1. I know I can’t be the only one here who loves his debut, and I look forward to hearing from other fans as well as anyone hearing some of these songs for the first time.