If you take a brilliant songwriter like Joe Jackson and
strip away all of the studio trickery, all of the overdubs and
masses of musicians, what would be left? The best part. Joe Jackson
knows this simple fact, and recently took to a studio in Berlin
with only a basic rhythm section to record what is possibly his
most stunning album to date, Rain. The ten songs on Rain
are aurally simple
drums, bass and piano, all perfectly
underscoring the strong and unmistakable voice of Jackson. "Invisible
Man" starts the album off on the right foot, recalling the
glorious days of Jackson's burgeoning career with its tight melodies
and brilliant dynamism. This song immediately makes one wonder
why Jackson has been so conspicuously absent from the mainstream
of music for the past few years
the track is possibly his
best song ever, and definitely starts the album on a strong note,
reminding immediately of classic Joe Jackson tunes. The simple,
yet striking, piano of "Citizen Sane" pounds its rhythm
home, while the drums and bass add nice counterpoint and give
the tune a solid root. Never one to pass by a good ballad, Jackson
provides a couple on Rain, including the wistful "Wasted
Time" and the heart wrenchingly tender "Solo (So Low)."
Joe proves again and again that he can do anything musically that
he wants, and the swinging jazz of "The Uptown Train"
provides a nice break before the band thunders into the solidly
rocking "King Pleasure Time." One would imagine that
limiting the instruments on an album to just three would somewhat
limit the album's sound, but I believe that in this simplicity
of tone Joe Jackson has created a masterpiece that is at once
more dynamic and intimate than any other album he has ever recorded.
The DVD that accompanies Rain includes some great live
footage, as well as a mini documentary on the making of the record
and interviews with Joe and members of the band. While not a fan
of interviews, the live moments on the DVD were very entertaining
to me and made me promise myself that if I ever got the chance
I would catch him live. See for yourself why you should try to
catch him live, too.
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