As of signing with the Sony Classical label in 1997, Joe Jackson's latest albums - including the recent Symphony No. 1 (1998) - have focused on his classical-music background, which included several years at London's Royal Academy of Music. Rock fans can thus be forgiven for forgetting that Jackson was once a significantly loud voice in England's late-'70s punk/new-wave movement. His new live concert album, Summer In The City then, reintroduces him as the fine rock artist that he still can be, not only through his own compositions but also on songs by key influences, such as with the title track, originally a #1 hit for New York's folk-rocking Lovin' Spoonful, way back in 1966. This live album shows that some 20 years after his debut, Joe Jackson's lost none of his bite - even if it's been sweetened a bit. jackson's version of "Summer in the City" also shows his command as an arranger and bandleader - dramatically stopping, then starting up again before segueing into "Obvious Song," from his last real rock album, 1991's engaging but overlooked Laughter And Lust. Other tracks here also show off Jackson's remarkable knack for cleverly pairing songs that jibe thematically and/or musically: Laying the instrumental undercurrent for the Yardbirds' "For Your Love," he instead launches his own "Fools in Love" before seamlessly switching over to the originally expected Yardbirds cover. Likewise, the Ramsey Lewis Trio's jazzy "The In Crowd" flows gently into Jackson's autobiographical gem, "Down to London" ). Seeing as the concert was one of several performed at the small Joe's Pub in Manhattan, during last year's Duke Ellington Centennial celebration, Jackson includes his smooth take on the Duke's "Mood Indigo." The other noteworthy covers include an especially poignant "Eleanor Rigby" and a sneaky take on (another significant influence) Steely Dan's "King of the World." A wondrously expressive pianist, Jackson is accompanied here by longtime cohorts Graham Maby on bass and Gary Burke on drums. "We can feel it when we're winning them over, and it feels good," Jackson says in the CD cover quote from his recently published book, A Cure for Gravity, in which he further states that on a good night, "Music has the power to neutralize the force of gravity." On this night, in particular, it was the first time he'd employed a trio format since before he landed his first record contract. But the sense of nostalgia didn't end there. "One More Time," the leadoff song from his debut album, Look Sharp!, closes Summer In The City, showing that 20 years later, Jackson's lost none of his bite - even if it's been sweetened a bit by a surer sense of swing.
9 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
If, like most people, you think of Joe Jackson as no more than a footnote in pop history, from songs like 'Is she really going out with him' and 'It's different for girls', think again. This man is one of the major singer songwriters of the last thirty years, and this live set, with just keyboard, bass and drums showcases his talents perfectly. Buy it and see how music should really sound.
2 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
This, more than any other live album that he has done before or since, showcases Jackson's fantastically emotive and imaginative keyboard playing, alongside the perfect bass of Graham Maby and Gary Burke's tight and underestimated drumming. The production gives each instrument exactly the right level and captures the true live feel. Joe's voice is at its peak in this show. The musicianship is exemplified by the solos in Another World, performances so beautiful they brings tears to my eyes.