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Joe Jackson
Summer In The City
(Sony Classical)


I have always believed that Joe Jackson is a true musical genius. The ma n has done everything-from post punk to classical to big band to Latin in fluenced pop, Jackson has mastered every style that he has ever practiced 2E His songwriting ability is top-notch, and his sense of humor shines through at just the right times. Jackson has already released one live p ackage (his masterful Live 1980/86 double disk set released in 1988,) but Summer In The City is a different work all together. This time, we find Jackson heading up a trio: longtime bassist Graham Maby and drummer Gary Burke, who played on many of Jackson's records join the fold. Not only do they give new interpretations of Jackson tunes (as he always does,) th e band runs through some classic material in a Jackson style. The result is another masterful work from one Hell of a pianist/composer.

Recorded in August 1999 in New York City, Jackson and company set the moo d with a cover of The Lovin' Spoonful's classic "Summer In The City." Th e trio stabs along with an easy tightness that exemplifies summer. Jacks on's ebbing and flowing interpretation also echoes the ever-evolving ener gy level that the summer often incites. Jackson then wanders his way int o "Obvious Song" from his last pop record, Laughter and Lust. Jackson's classic "Fools In Love" thrives in the trio setting, and becomes entwined with The Yardbird's "For Your Love." The band makes the transitions fla wlessly and stealthily and without distraction. It's the perfect match. Joe mixes the 1965 instrumental "The In Crowd" with his own "Down To Lon don," again with great ease. I would have to agree with Chadbo when we w ere talking about Joe's rendition of Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo." Cha dbo said, "I could listen to Joe play Ellington for hours." I have to fu lly agree. Joe understands Ellington, and it comes out in his piano play ing. Joe's two "medleys" are quite diverse. The first medley begins wit h a straight ahead, yet inspired, rendition of The Beatles classic "Elea nor Rigby." It's just Joe and Maby here, and they make it sound like a f ull band. Both "Be My Number Two" and "Home Town" are just Joe and his p iano. "Home Town" in this format is thoroughly stripped down and only di splays the roots of the popular Jackson tune. This dissolves into the cl assic "It's Different For Girls" where the full band comes back in to giv e it a fairly straight-forward reading. The second medley begins with th e Steely Dan classic "King Of The World" (who really has the balls to cov er Steely Dan but Joe?!) before yielding to the classic "You Can't Get Wh at You Want." Also, you'll enjoy "Another World" from Night and Day, w here Maby surprises Jackson with an unexpected bass solo and "One More Ti me" from his first record, Look Sharp.

Once again, Joe Jackson proves why he is one of the finest musicians to e ver grace pop music. His talent exceeds many others, and his songs trans cend time, and that's important. To add to that, Jackson has always recr uited the best musicians to help him out. It's good to see him hook up w ith two of the best he's ever worked with. Summer In The City is already looking good on the best of the year standing, and with goods reason. T his record definitely feels like summer, and is intelligent as well. Mak es you feel a bit less guilty about loosening up and relaxing, huh?

-tom topkoff

Track Listing:
1. Summer In The City
2. Obvious Song
3. Another World
4. Fools In Love/For Your Love
5. Mood Indigo
6. The In Crowd/Down To London
Medley:
7. Eleanor Rigby
8. Be My Number Two
9. Home Town
10. It's Different For Girls
Medley:
11. King Of The World
12. You Can't Get What You Want
13. One More Time

 

 


Mike Doughty



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