posted on May 14, 2008 02:58
A review of the album 'Rain' by Joe Jackson
Review Snapshot: Classic-hits MOR jazz-pop craftsmanship. Classic-hits MOR jazz-pop craftsmanship. Classic-hits MOR jazz-pop craftsmanship. (repeat to fade, just like Jackson does). Anyone making coffee?
The Cluas Verdict? 4 out of 10
Like Elvis Costello (and Joe Strummer too, it must be said), Joe Jackson was a non-punk who took full advantage of the '76 revolution and slipped into the mainstream music scene. His tense, sinewy hits from the late '70s, 'It's Different For Girls' and 'Is She Really Going Out With Him?' still enjoy classic-hits airplay today.
And those wimpy-male titles and observational lyrics ensure the songs continue to soundtrack any TV or film scene where a drippy, over-analytical thirtysomething guy gets heartbroken (think of Raymond in 'Bachelor's Walk').
After his chart success, Jackson turned towards jazz. And today his luck is back in; recent years have seen a surge in polite jazz-pop by the likes of Katie Melua, Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum and Peter Cincotti. Thirty years later, with his new album 'Rain', can Jackson pull the same trick again and become an improbable success once more?
Well, who cares? While Jackson is never as limp or whimpering as his young peers, no one's going to listen to 'Rain' for anything cutting-edge or curveball. This is the type of music that prides itself on being 'classic craftsmanship'; piano-bar plinking, safe-hands rhythm section - and slight melodies that don't distract from the lyrics. Like Costello, Jackson seems to see his added-value as the wry smartness of his wordplay.
So, we have song titles like 'Citizen Sane', 'Solo (So Low)' and 'A Place In The Rain' that soak up the creative budget of their respective tracks.
You can't say that 'Rain' is a bad album - it's well-made and Jackson has an engaging voice. But there are no surprises, musically or lyrically, and no song stands out from the others. A record for the more adventurous MOR-jazz-pop fan, if that's not an oxymoron.
To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.