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Saturday Night Music Byte

Lynnrockets recently watched the film Julie & Julia about a thirty year old New Yorker who decided to cook every dish in one of Julia Childs’ cookbooks and to blog about it. It was a novel idea so we decided to copy it. No, we will not be cooking in the usual sense (that could start a fire). Rather, we will adapt the recipe a day concept to our nightly music bytes. From now to infinity (didn’t somebody else coin that phrase?) we will post a music video and brief description of the artist or song in a sort of alphabetical order as culled from Tom Moon’s wonderful reference book, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (A Listener’s Life List). The book describes both whole albums (remember those) and individual songs from all music genres that are essential listening. Do yourselves a favor and purchase this book. Where the book deals with an individual song, we will post that song, but when an entire album is the subject, we will exercise judicial discretion and post a single song therefrom. So what do you say, let’s get cooking…

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Joe Jackson – “Steppin’ Out” (1982)

When this album appeared in the thick of 1982 new wave, most pop people knew Joe Jackson as a scrawny Englishman with a bratty voice (i.e. “Is She Really Going Out With Him”) and a penchant for up-tempo swing. No-one was prepared for the album Night and Day, a cosmopolitan swirl of taunting rhythm and chomping piano chords that ranks among the great pop valentines to New York City.

Tuesday Night Music Byte

Joe Jackson (born David Ian Jackson, 11 August 1954, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire) is an English musician and singer–songwriter, now living in Berlin, whose five Grammy Award nominations span from 1979 to 2001. He is best known for the 1979 hit songIs She Really Going Out with Him?”, which still gets extensive FM radio airplay; the 1982 hit, “Steppin’ Out”; and for his 1984 success with, “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)”.

Along with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, Jackson was a part of the trio of British based artists who challenged the punk scene and brought a new wave sound to the United States in the late 1970s. He was popular for his earlier power pop and new wave music, before moving to more eclectic, though less commercially successful pop, jazz and classical music offerings.

In 1978 producer David Kershenbaum heard Jackson’s demo tape, and signed him to A&M Records on 9 August 1978. The album Look Sharp! was recorded straight away, and was released in January 1979. In an interview in February 1979 with NME magazine, Jackson talked about Look Sharp!; “I didn’t want your typical 1977/1978 new wave band sound. I wanted more of a reggae mix, where you have a very upfront bass and drums and a thin sounding guitar that goes in and out. The idea is to leave a lot of gaps to let the song really come through”. In March, Look Sharp! broke into the record charts, eventually peaking at #40 in the UK Albums Chart. The same month, A&M released the album in the U.S., and it quickly charted, reaching the #20 in the Billboard 200, after “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” was released as a single in May (while Jackson toured North America) and became a Top 40 hit. In September, the LP was certified gold in the U.S., whilst in the UK, “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” was re-released in July and charted the following month, making the Top 20. Jackson was nominated for a 1979 Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male, for the single. Equally, the album cover of Look Sharp! was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Recording Package.

Tonight’s video clip is Joe Jackson performing “Look Sharp” in Germany in 1983. Please enjoy.

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