Political Beats podcast

Episode 129: Mike Long / Joe Jackson

Manda indietro di 15 secondi
Manda avanti di 15 secondi

Introducing the Band:

Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Mike Long. Mike is a (very) occasional writer for National Review and was one of the originals back in the early 2000s as NRO was launched. He’s the author of the non-fiction bestseller The Molecule of More and its sequel coming in fall of 2024.

Mike’s Music Pick: Joe Jackson

After running through Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe/Rockpile, it was only a matter of time before we got to covering Joe Jackson. As an artist, Jackson frequently is grouped into the "angry young man"/Pub Rock category with the aforementioned artists. However, as we discuss on the show, there's an incredible depth to his songwriting and arrangements that quickly busted him out of whatever box critics might put him in.

Jackson came out of the gate hot, with two releases in the magical year of 1979, Look Sharp! and I'm the Man. They could be parts one and two of the same album. These are the ones that lump him into the Costello/Parker/Lowe movement but it's a sound he rarely returns to again. Every single song is a winner. From here would come some of his best known songs – “I’m the Man,” “It’s Different For Girls, and “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” 

By 1981, he took a massive detour from the rock/pop world with Jumpin' Jive, a collection of covers of 1940s swing and big band songs originally performed by Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway. 

Night and Day was released the same year as Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom and it, too, is a bid to be taken very seriously as a songwriter. Like Elvis's effort, it's a complete success artistically and even moreso commercially. "Steppin' Out" earned Grammy Award nominations and reached number six on the charts. "Breaking Us in Two" reached number 18. It's a cosmopolitan, big-city record. 

The rest of the 1980s would find Jackson stretching his wings and dabbling in jazz, Latin rhythms, classical – if you name a genre, he probably has a song in it (OK, perhaps not metal). Albums like Body and Soul, Big World, Blaze of Glory, and Laughter and Lust didn’t sell nearly as well as previous efforts but kept fans happy. After 1991, however, he wouldn’trelease another non-classical studio album until 2000's Night and Day II. Why? Take it from the artist himself: 

"After the Laughter & Lust world tour … I had real bad writer's block. I couldn't even listen to music. I just lost it, totally. It was awful."

But it wouldn’t stay that way! Beginning in 2003 with Vol. 4, Jackson would release a string of records that showed he still know how to write a song.


By the way, all of us have musical blind spots, and Joe Jackson was one for Jeff. Come along for the ride as he discovers the many layers of this talented performer and writer.

Altri episodi di "Political Beats"