Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Joe Jackson 2: I’m The Man
Joe’s second album came hot on the heels of his first, and while it wasn’t as big a hit, it delivered songs nearly as good. The sound on I’m The Man is almost identical to that of Look Sharp!—edgy guitar, upfront bass and solid drums, but somewhere in the past six months he’d bought a melodica.
The opening salvo is an angry geek’s revenge on those who wronged him, now that he can be heard “On Your Radio”. Proof that he’s not just another new waver comes with the sophisticated storytelling of “Geraldine And John”, but he’s not above such simple popcraft as “Kinda Kute”. The second great song of his career is “It’s Different For Girls”, from the great opening line (“What the hell is wrong with you tonight?”) to the round of vocals at the end. The title track is a great punk stomper about, once again, commercialism.
“The Band Wore Blue Shirts” is an interesting look back at the days he spent toiling in clubs playing with any number of bands (much more detailed, again, in his memoir A Cure For Gravity). The portrait he paints seems even more quaint with each passing year. The contrast is even sharper with the infectious “Don’t Wanna Be Like That”, which crams his complaints about fashion, trendiness and sexuality into four minutes. Things slow down for “Amateur Hour”, a lament for an ambiguous subject. There’s another catchy “pop song” (it says so on the lyric sheet) in “Get That Girl”, and the band gets to show off again in the frenetic “Friday”.
Though the math tells otherwise, I’m The Man seems short, but it’s pretty simple—if you liked Look Sharp!, you’ll like this, despite the ugly cover photo. It even came with a gimmick; similar to the first album, which was available as a double 10-inch vinyl package, this one was also released as a box set of five singles. (Not included was a live cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On”, a contemporary B-side and now added to the latest version of the CD.)
Joe Jackson I’m The Man (1979)—3½
2001 CD reissue: same as 1979, plus 1 extra track