Joe Jackson – Volume 4 (2003)

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by Mark Saleski

Warning: Listening to the Joe Jackson Band’s 2003 release Volume 4 may give you a strong urge to dig out your skinny tie (c’mon, you know you wore one!) from the back of the closet. You may find yourself heading to the hair salon for no apparent reason. You will, of course, realize that you’ve developed sentimental feelings for that “sideways” haircut you used to have.

Resist: you’re just under the spell of Joe Jackson’s wayback machine set to New Wave.

I’ve been a fan of JJ from the very beginning. Much like Elvis Costello, he has the ability to continuously reinvent himself. While this quality is more often associated with David Bowie, I’ve always thought that both Joe and Elvis have come up with more consistently interesting music as they’ve matured.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that this collection of songs contains only Look Sharp, I’m The Man and Beat Crazy-era music. While the original band lineup serves up a big heap ‘o power pop (I really had forgotten how tight that rhythm section was!), Joe blends in touches from some of my favorite (and, for the most part, forgotten) recordings: 1989’s Blaze Of Glory and 1991’s Laughter and Lust (both by that time sadly out of print).

In fact, when I first heard Volume 4‘s first track, “Take It Like A Man”, I was instantly transported to a JJ show from the Laughter and Lust tour: at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre … in the middle of a summer heatwave. Outside it was well over 100 degrees. Inside? Forget It. The show was so over the top that we all got over the lack of air conditioning. (Ok, maybe not completely. I mean, it was “sweatin’ hot”!)

This really isn’t a record for Joe Jackson fans only. Just about anybody can take something positive away from Volume 4.

Now where did I leave that skinny brown leather tie? …

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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