Friday, February 27, 2009

Joe Jackson: At The BBC

I guess it hasn't been broached here as yet, but anyone who has spent any length of time talking or (worse) making music with me will know that there is not too much chance of a Joe Jackson record getting panned on my watch. If it's live stuff from 79-83, no one in possession of a working set of ears could dispute the power of the Joe Jackson band.

Joe Jackson: At The BBC captures four sets recorded for various BBC programs. Disc one has an in-studio session from 1979 and a live session from the Hammerstein Odeon almost exactly three years lately. The band in fine form, featuring the four-piece Sanford/Houghton/Maby Jackson band. This will be another not-especially-shocking statement for my inner circle, but Graham Maby is an animal here. I read an interview recently that pointed out that Joe writes on the piano, adding basslines with his left hand, which accounts for the basslines being so up-front in the mix . Of course, when you have a player as strong as Maby, you don't have to hide things. He's pretty much the lead bass player, especially on the two extended versions of Fools In Love. The first is closer to the reggae-tinged version on the record, the second closer to the moody version from the Live 80/86 recordings. Both feature impeccable Maby solos and the band is tight as a drum. Jackson has always changed arrangement on the road and in this era the Joe Jackson Band was probably playing 250+ gigs a year, so any Jackson audibles were easily handled.

Disc two features two live shows from 1980 and 1983, respectively. The first set is a live set in front of a college audience featuring Grade A Jackson banter, while the second is a more reserved crowd, but the band is no less explosive. Jackson is a master arranger, even on the busier latin-tinged tunes, and as a result, the band has absolutely no fat. Everything is in place, but it's not stilted by a long shot. There are a lot of Joe Jackson live records in this day and age, but if you're a completist like me or maybe just a fan of the early years, At The BBC is a must-have. I think this is only available on import, but check out here on the official Joe Jackson web presence here.


No comments: