Joe Jackson – live at The Whisky A-go-go – May 12, 1979 – KWST-FM – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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Joe Jackson in concert from the Whisky in Hollywood tonight – recorded on May 12, 1979 and broadcast by KWST-FM live.
Joe Jackson was part of the initial Second British Invasion that landed in the U.S. in the late 1970s – although you would be hard-pressed to label him Punk, he was most definitely of the New Wave school and perhaps that was part of his huge initial success.
In 1978, a record producer heard Jackson’s demo tape and signed him to A&M Records. The next year the newly formed Joe Jackson Band released their debut album Look Sharp! A mix of rock, melodic jazz, and new wave, it mined a vein similar to that of contemporaries Elvis Costello and Graham Parker. The album enjoyed wide critical success: in 2013 Rolling Stone magazine named Look Sharp! number 98 in a list of the 100 best debut albums of all time. Some commercial success also followed, as the debut single “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” reached the top 40 in 5 countries, and no. 9 in Canada.
The Joe Jackson Band released I’m the Man in 1979. The album followed a similar musical pattern, and received good, though not as strong, reviews. It did produce the single “It’s Different for Girls”, which became Jackson’s highest charting UK single, peaking at no. 5. Beat Crazy followed in 1980. Jackson also collaborated with Lincoln Thompson in reggae crossover.
In 1981, Jackson produced an album for the British power pop group the Keys. The Keys Album was the group’s only LP. The Joe Jackson Band toured extensively until it broke up. Jackson subsequently recorded an album of old-style swing and blues tunes, Jumpin’ Jive, with songs by Cab Calloway, Lester Young, Glenn Miller, and Louis Jordan. The album, and associated single release, was credited to the band “Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive”.
Jackson’s 1982 album Night and Day was his only studio album to reach either the UK or US Top 10, peaking at No. 3 (UK) and at No. 4 (US). Two singles released from the album, “Steppin’ Out” and “Breaking Us in Two”, were US top 20 hits. The tracks “Real Men” and “A Slow Song” referred obliquely to New York City’s early 1980s gay culture. “Real Men” also became a top 10 hit in Australia.
Going back to his initial period – the point where he first connected with U.S. audiences, here is what became a memorable gig from The Whisky, fortunately grabbed for posterity by the late-lamented KWST-FM – who had studio just down the street, next to Tower Records.
Keepin’ it all Hollywood – hit the Play button for a reminder.