Friday, January 31, 2014

look sharp!

Joe Jackson cut to the chase with the edgy angry anthems of this incisive and intelligent punk pop primer.  Born David Ian Jackson, he learned violin before switching to the piano.  At the age of sixteen, he began playing in local bars and won a scholarship to study at London's Royal Academy of Music.  His first band was  Edward Bear, which later became Edwin Bear and then Arms and Legs

His demos found their way to A&M Records, which led to a solo record deal.  'Look Sharp!' was recorded at Eden Studios in London with producer David Kershenbaum.  The sessions featured Joe Jackson on vocals, piano, and harmonica; Gary Sanford on guitar; Graham Maby on bass; and David Houghton on drums.  Despite his more traditional musical training, 'Look Sharp!' sees Jackson embracing the primal sound of punk. Jackson explains:  "I’ve never had any problem with sophistication. I rather like it. But I know what you’re saying. I think my first album, for instance, is very much a product of its time, inevitably. I was only twenty-three or twenty-four or something. I was excited by what was going on around me, even though I wasn’t necessarily part of it. I was way overqualified to be a punk by the time I was even 17, in terms of my musical training and all the different kinds of music I was interested in. But it did feel like a time to strip things down and keep it sort of urgent and simple. I think we all liked that."

'Look Sharp!' went to number forty in the UK and number twenty in the US.  Its clever sardonic sneer and eclectic musical underpinings led to Jackson being grouped with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker as the triumvirate of England's angry young men.

 "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" went to number twenty-one on the US pop chart, thirteen in the UK, and number two on the US college singles chart. 

'Look Sharp!'

full album:

All songs written and arranged by Joe Jackson.

1. "One More Time" 3:15
2. "Sunday Papers" 4:22
3. "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" 3:33
4. "Happy Loving Couples" 3:08
5. "Throw It Away" 2:49
6. "Baby Stick Around" 2:36
7. "Look Sharp!" 3:23
8. "Fools in Love" 4:23
9. "(Do the) Instant Mash" 3:12
10. "Pretty Girls" 2:55
11. "Got the Time" 2:52 
bonus tracks
12. "Don't Ask Me" (original B-side to "One More Time") 2:43
13. "You Got the Fever" (original B-side to "Is She Really Going Out with Him?") 3:36

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