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Joe Jackson
Rain
Rykodisc
www.joejackson.com


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.

-L. Keane


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