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Joe Jackson: Look Sharp!

Look Sharp!
    • Music
    • Sonics
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    Although Joe Jackson is rarely mentioned in the same breath as contemporaries like Elvis Costello and the Clash, he should be. All share a post-punk sensibility that melds that genre’s passionate delivery with strong melodies, catchy beats, a dash of reggae on the side, and a decidedly cynical worldview. More than that, Jackson’s music has aged extremely well, revealing new levels of songwriting and arranging. Perhaps this explains why he’s showing up frequently on multiple Sirius/XM stations. Consequently, the timing of Intervention’s uncompromising vinyl release of Jackson’s first three albums couldn’t be better. The debut record, Look Sharp!, is made pungent by snappy, minimalist arrangements (later, Jackson would incorporate more of his jazz background), a delightfully surly delivery of humorous/sarcastic lyrics, and consistently memorable tunes. These include not only the numerous hits—my fave is “Sunday Papers”—but the non-hits as well. Intervention’s pressing is phenomenal. Mastered from analog tapes by Kevin Gray on 180-gram vinyl, the grooves are so quiet the staccato guitar work fairly crackles through the air. Bass is equally tight; it’ll give your woofers a thorough workout. All in all, there’s no better time to rediscover an old friend. 

    By Alan Taffel

    I can thank my parents for introducing me to both good music and good sound at an early age. Their extensive classical music collection, played through an enviable system, continually filled our house. When I was two, my parents gave me one of those all-in-one changers, which I played to death.

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