Joe Jackson’s Rain underscored a complete modern-era return to form

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At least in the beginning, Jackson’s music career took the same path as Elvis Costello’s: an angry young new-waver turned serious pop meister. But Joe eventually lost me (and many others) when his music got too orchestral and heavy for his own good.

Into the 2000s, however, he began going back to his original sound with his original band and while 2003’s Volume 4 was a more obvious return to his youthful form, the absence of a guitarist on Rain makes Joe Jackson lean more on his piano. And since that’s one of his greatest strengths, it’s a welcome wrinkle.

Anyone who has come of age with pop music in the ’90s instead of the ’80s was likely to look at Rain – which arrived on January 28, 2008 – as a kind of Ben Folds Five tribute, especially when they heard the opening “Invisible Man” or “King Pleasure Time.” But of course, it’s Folds who owes much of his aggressive piano pop style to Joe Jackson, not vice versa.

Jackson’s songwriting, even at that late date, revealed a subtle depth that few could quite match. There’s a certain Burt Bacharach-esque way in his chord progressions within tunes like “Wasted Time” that you don’t hear much of anymore. And of course, the breezy piano bar jazz of Night And Day was back, as in numbers like “The Uptown Train.”

After too long away, Rain confirmed that it was time to start paying attention to Joe Jackson again.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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