Joe Jackson

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 March, 2008, 12:00am

Joe Jackson



Next year marks three decades since Brit new waver Joe Jackson made an international chart mark with his debut album Look Sharp and its mega single Is She Really Going Out with Him.

Like many talented pop stars, Jackson's music and image have morphed continually, and some fans have followed him through angsty pop-punk through reggae-tinged rock, swing and Latin. This latest offering however, released after a five-year lull, is not an easy one to pigeon-hole.

The mostly mellow-paced, stripped-down 10-song collection contains elements of his previous styles, with Jackson himself on piano and vocals, accompanied by only bass guitar and drums. Though jazz influences are apparent on most tracks, most overtly in laid-back The Uptown Train, with its honky-tonk piano interludes, King Pleasure Time, with its social commentary and indie rock sound most evokes Jackson's earlier years - though, somehow, without the aid of a lead guitar. Likewise with rocking yet harmonious Good Bad Boy, an album high point.

So Low (Solo) is the oddest inclusion, comprising very classical-sounding ivories with just Jackson's vocals to set them off: as he reflects on his own identity, this track comes across as over-dramatic and hard to take seriously.

A handful of remaining tracks are disappointingly middle-of-the-road but the masterfully crafted ones on this album make it worth a listen.

An included DVD serves up three of the tracks live, recorded at a recent gig in London, a documentary about the making of the album and the musician's guide to Berlin, where he has lived since 2007. The live tracks add sensitivity to the pure audio versions.