Most of the time, good timing is a matter of being lucky instead of being good. For Joe Jackson’s very first album Look Sharp! (1979), he wrote and recorded a ditty “Sunday Papers,” blasting the British tabloid press with lethal doses of sarcasm. He and his Rain trio (Graham Maby, bass; Dave Houghton, drums) included this song in their rotation while touring last year, and it made it on the official document of that tour, Live Music: Europe 2010, released last June 7. But given the phone hacking scandal that broke out all over Britain right after Jackson’s record appeared in stores, the irony of Track #5 of this album is hard to miss.
Jackson, of course, leaves no ambiguity of what he thinks of The Observer or News Of The World in this song:
Sunday papers don’t ask no questions
Sunday papers don’t get no lies
Sunday papers don’t raise objection
Sunday papers ain’t got no eyes
…and when he deadpans “Well I got nothing against the press/They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true,” there’s that lethal sarcasm I was talking about.
Musically, the song’s got it going on, too. There’s that new wave faux reggae rolling rhythm, the same one found in Prince’s “Jack U Off.” Jackson doesn’t have a guitarist in his band these days, so Gary Sanford’s guitar (in 1980 video below) is replaced by Jackson’s piano, and his chops on this song are both rollicking and jazzy. But it’s Graham Maby high-end, irresistible bass riff that stays in your ears long after the last note is played.
So when News Of The World published its last edition on July 10, ending a 168 year run, it was an event that was perhaps bemoaned by some and cheered by others. I can’t imagine that anyone could have been cheering louder than Joe Jackson.