Joe Jackson Band – Afterlife

Music Reviews Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson Band – Afterlife

When Joe Jackson burst onto the New Wave scene in 1979 with Look Sharp!, his sophisticated songcraft and the turbocharged assault of his three-piece backing band drew inevitable comparisons to Elvis Costello & the Attractions. Though Look Sharp! and the subsequent I’m the Man were critically lauded hits, Jackson’s ambitions soon prompted him to abandon the lean sound of those records for more expansive stylistic exercises, some cool in their own right—like 1982’s Night and Day. The album’s quintessential track, “Steppin’ Out,” is revisited here in a lovely solo turn by Jackson on piano. But the class and durability of the early stuff and the torque of that killer band—driven by Graham Maby’s jabbing bass lines—is readily apparent throughout Afterlife (culled, sans overdubs, from four West Coast gigs recorded in August ’03) on rip-roaring takes of classics like “One More Time,” “Sunday Papers” and “Got the Time.” Additionally, “Fools in Love” still sports the wired reggae groove Jackson copped from Costello’s “Watching the Detectives.” A quarter century later, Jackson and mates show they can still float like butterflies and sting like a hive of bees.

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