Skip to main content

Review: Joe Jackson's Rain

On the day when the media reflects on the death of Joan Jackson (nee Joan Hunter Dunn), I've come to listen, finally, to the new release by Joe Jackson, the CD Rain. I agree with a review at the BBC site which says it is a great work. I'm tempted to say it's Jackson's entirely unanticipated, and unheralded, late masterpiece. Indeed, there's something triumphant in its effortlessly cool pop achievement, and something oddly stirring - for Jackson has been an "Invisible Man" (the title of the opening track) for years now, except perhaps as a grumpy pro-smoking activist (a stance I tend to disagree with). Jackson's career began 29 years ago (in 1979), and he's always been more famous and admired in North America, where the British "New Wave" sound he pioneered with Elvis Costello and a few others caught on - even more than back home.

His four biggest albums are Look Sharp!, I'm The Man, Night And Day, and Body And Soul, and over the course of these, Jackson refined his nasal whine, his acid, even snide, wit, and his Jazz-pop hybrid (moving from guitars to piano, more and more) - really playing with how sentiment and cool could coincide (usually by marrying sad-sack heartbreak themes with ironic lashings of bile). Often, his snarling humour marred the overall tone of the work, while paradoxically sometimes being its best element. The best of Jackson has the joy of the music from the Peanuts' cartoons, and Rain has that keyboard zest (especially on "Citizen Sane").

He's always been a more talented musician (and better singer) than Costello, but never quite received his due. I met him a few years back, in Marylebone, leaving a Waitrose store, carrying milk. We spoke briefly, but he was a little tetchy. I don't think he appreciated my enthusiasm for his work (I was, after all, just a fan). I think Jackson is one of the greatest of British popular musicians of the post-Beatles era, and Rain has several songs ("Too Tough" and "King Pleasure Time" for instance) that are among his finest - classics-to-be. This is one of the albums of 2008.
2 comments

Popular posts from this blog

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

OSCAR SMOSHCAR

The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…