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Big World

Joe Jackson

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Album Review

Joe Jackson crafted his most labored, serious album in 1984's Body and Soul, so it's no surprise that he made a complete turnaround for its follow-up, Big World. Instead of delving deeper into jazz, Jackson pared his lineup down to a basic guitar, bass, and drums rock combo and recorded all of Big World live in front of an audience in a move to avoid the over-production that bogged down records of its period. Interestingly, Jackson insisted the audience not make a sound during the recording, so this doesn't sound like a live album, except in the spots where Jackson's voice wears a bit thin. And, running over 60 minutes and across three record "sides," Big World is a sweeping album, shifting from a more accessible first side to an experimental middle and closing out with a more aggressive third side. It works, since Big World is the most raw and immediate record of the middle part of Jackson's career. But listeners expecting another Look Sharp! won't be impressed, as this is still a much more serious, concerned Jackson than before. As the title of the album suggests, Jackson is tackling big issues, such as global cultural differences, Reagan-era politics, yuppies, and relationships — from romantic ones to those you hold with your roots, as on the reflective "Home Town." At times, it works marvelously, and at times the songs are too ponderous and minimal to make any impact. But the best moments, like "Right and Wrong," "Tonight and Forever," and "Home Town," establish Big World as one of the best and most overlooked records of Joe Jackson's career.

Customer Reviews

the 80's were great

Whilst the other muppets were listening to Spandau, Duran, ABC & Jive Bunny the smart ones were listening to Big World. There really was some great music that shot under the radar at the time and this much overlooked album is one of the finest examples.

Awesome and so underrated

I have loved this album since its first release. Joe Jackson is so underrated its not even funny. How so many people miss out on his genius is beyond me. He writes terrific tunes and intelligent lyrics and also is his own man. He never follows trends and fashions he ploughs his own very fertile furrow. All his albums are worth a hard listen - there is something for everyone in Joe's work.


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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