photo courtesy of amazon.com

Chances are, if you were born after 1986 in the US, you have never heard of Joe Jackson. That is because by some, he has had very few hits in the US, the 2 being Is She Really Going Out With Him and Steppin’ Out. However, he is one artist that needs to be heard much more on this side of the pond due to both his songwriting and sophisticated style. He’s hardly a rocker these days, but he is the embodiment of cool.

With Jackson’s 1982 release Night & Day, Jackson both captures both what it is like to live in New York City in 1982 – both the wonder, excitement, and even scariness. He also captures the music of the various districts, including Spanish Harlem with the latin jazz-tinged Target. With that track, its just a mere warmup to the albums most popular track, the no. 1 single Steppin’ Out.

Steppin’ Out perfectly captures both the promise of whatever you want to happen in life: love, success, or both. Jackson sings “Now/ the mist across the window hides the lines/ but nothing hides the colour of the light that shines/ electricity so fine/ look and dry your eyes/ we/ so tired of all the darkness in our lives/ with no more angry words to say can come alive/ get into the car and drive/ to the other side.”

Two songs deal with rather touchy issues even to this day in some circles: cancer causes and the gay lifestyle on such songs as Cancer and Real Men. Jackson attacks the fact that all these medical reports, in some way shape or form, tell you that you will contract cancer if you ingest modern-day things such as nicotine, booze, or even protein. Real Men deals with the social expectations of men as seen from the point of view of a gay man living in New York in the early 1980’s.

Overall the album is pretty good, but at times a tad bit repetitive with the drum bits – it has the same parts at the same time. However this is the albums only real weakness. It was nominated for the 1982 Grammy Awards for both Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance Male.

 

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