1982 will forever be known as the year that the punks got class – or at least when Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello, rivals for the title of Britain's reigning Angry Young Man – decided that they were not just rockers, but really songwriters in the Tin Pan Alley tradition. (Graham Parker, fellow angry Brit, sat this battle out, choosing to work with Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas instead.) Both had been genre-hopping prior to 1982, but Jackson's Night and Day and Costello's Imperial Bedroom announced to the world that both were "serious songwriters," standing far apart from the clamoring punkers and silly new wavers. In retrospect, the ambitions of these two 27-year-olds (both born in August 1954, just two weeks apart) seem a little grandiose, and if Imperial Bedroom didn't live up to its masterpiece marketing campaign (stalling at number 30 on the charts without generating a hit), it has garnered a stronger reputation than Night and Day, which was a much more popular album, climbing all the way to number four on the U.S. charts, thanks to the Top Ten single "Steppin' Out".
A brilliant, accomplished debut, Look Sharp! established Joe Jackson as part of that camp of angry, intelligent young new wavers (i.e., Elvis Costello, Graham Parker) who approached pop music with the sardonic attitude and tense, aggressive energy of punk. Not as indebted to pub rock as Parker and Costello, and much more lyrically straightforward than the latter, Jackson delivers a set of bristling, insanely catchy pop songs that seethe with energy and frustration.
Ever since Joe Jackson's debut album, Look Sharp, yielded his first single in "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" in July of 1979, which peaked at number 21 on Billboard (the album hit number 20), his career has seen him investigate a multitude of musical styles with clean-cut charm and poise. Jackson has dabbled in everything from reggae, disco, and soul to power pop, jazz, and even big band. Stepping Out covers 15 of his biggest singles, including his highest chart-topper, "Stepping Out," which hit number six on Billboard's Top 40, from the suave sounding Night and Day album. The downhearted appeal of "Breaking Us in Two" appears here as well, along with the salsa- flavored "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)," which reached number 15 and was the strongest track from 1984's Body and Soul album. Outside of his chart appearances, the rest of this hits collection holds up well. Jackson's voice is heard in wispy detail on "Fools in Love," while his humor and wit explode on "I'm the Man" from the album of the same name. The live release entitled Big World from 1986 is spoken for with both "Right and Wrong" and the candid allure of "Hometown."
With such an abundance of great tracks that were never issued as singles, in many ways, a single-disc Joe Jackson best-of just doesn't cut it. That's where the extensive, three-disc comp Ultimate Collection comes in handy. While artist collections are usually aimed at the casual fan (in search of strictly an artist's best known tracks), the third disc of Ultimate Collection will definitely appeal to the hardcore fan, as it's the first-ever CD release of Jackson's soundtrack to Mike's Murder. Jackson's early, new wave direction is evident on such standouts as "Sunday Papers," "I'm the Man," "One More Time," and of course, "Is She Really Going Out With Him" (one complaint though – the omission of "Look Sharp").
Part of the Backlot series from A&M featuring newly-designed artwork, digital remastering, unreleased tracks and extensive liner notes. Tracks include “Is She Really Going Out with Him?,” “Look Sharp!,” “Sunday Papers,” “Steppin’ Out,” “Nineteen Forever” and more, plus live versions of “A Slow Song” and “Memphis.”
2009 two CD set. Joe Jackson was one of the pioneers of the leading British-based artists that brought a New Wave sound to the world in the late '70s. This compilation of recordings is taken from the BBC s archives, who caught a snapshot of the artist at the start of his career and charted his phenomenal rise to success. Recorded between 1979 and 1983, this collection contains 32 live recordings including Is She Really Going Out With Him Steppin Out , Real Men , Breaking Us In Two and It s Different For Girls . Certainly, Joe Jackson in his prime! Universal.