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Like his contemporary Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson came of age during the late ‘70s New Wave movement with short, spiky pop tunes that mixed love with rage. Also like Costello, Jackson was a multi-dimensional musician determined to break past the limits of his ‘angry young man’ image. As the years passed, Jackson lost his commercial momentum as his stylistic jumps to reggae, classical and jazz-tinged pop confused audiences and music marketers alike. In 2003, he reunited with his original Joe Jackson band for the one-off Volume 4. Then in 2008 Jackson returned with two-thirds of the group for the smooth, mature adult pop of Rain, an album less connected to his debut album, 1979’s Look Sharp!, than the mellow countenance of 1982’s Night and Day. The swooning falsettos of “Wasted Time” and “The Uptown Train,” alongside Jackson’s trilling piano cadences make for succinct nightclub pop. Jackson’s unhurried approach — his tempos and his years between releases — enables a high songwriting standard that plays to his strengths. And he continues to self-analyze and self-mock, as he sums up his career wryly as an “Invisible Man.”


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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Rain, Joe Jackson
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