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I'm the Man

Joe Jackson

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Album Review

Despite Jackson's anxious demeanor and shaky pop/rock presence, I'm the Man holds together quite well as his second attempt. Reaching number 12 in the U.K. and a respectable number 22 in the U.S., the album managed to net him a number five hit in his homeland with the insightful "It's Different for Girls," which revealed Jackson's adeptness at philosophizing and his perception of examining the sexes, a trait which would follow him throughout his career. While this song represents his skill at crafting an effective ballad, the frantic "I'm the Man" showcases Jackson at his most frenzied, as a freight train's worth of lyrics pile haphazardly into one another alongside a wonderfully hysteric rhythm. Not only does the track show off Jackson's free-range ability, but his sense of humor arises once again, following in the footsteps of Look Sharp!'s "Is She Really Going Out With Him." Jackson's new wave tendencies are toned down for I'm the Man, but that doesn't restrain his talent, as songs like "Kinda Kute," "Amateur Hour," and "Geraldine and John" make for catchy side servings of attractive pop. It wasn't until Jackson's next album, Beat Crazy, that he began to expand his musical latitudes into reggae, soul, and later on into jazz and other styles. I'm the Man exposes Jackson in his early stages, but it's evident that his wit and peculiar brand of pop charm is already building up its strength.

Biography

Born: 11 August 1954 in Burton-upon-Trent, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In his 1999 memoir, A Cure for Gravity: A Musical Pilgrimage, Joe Jackson writes approvingly of George Gershwin as a musician who kept one foot in the popular and one in the classical realms of music. Like Gershwin, Jackson possesses a restless musical imagination that has found him straddling musical genres unapologetically, disinclined to pick one style and stick to it. The word "chameleon" often crops up in descriptions of him, but Jackson prefers to be thought of as "eclectic." Is he the Joe...
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