Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Joe Jackson 4: Jumpin’ Jive

As long as he was being ignored on the pop charts, Joe’s next move was to break away from his touring band (saving only Graham Maby) and put together a swing revue. Both band and album were christened Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive, and both album and setlist contained nothing but songs associated with the likes of Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan.
Despite his own prowess at the piano, he lets somebody else handle the keys, limiting himself to vibes, scatting and singing, although he does use a couple of cartoony voices on the parenthetical masterpieces “You Run Your Mouth (And I’ll Run My Business)” and “What’s The Use Of Getting Sober (When You’re Gonna Get Drunk Again)”. The three-man horn section doesn’t get too much in the way, and everyone gets to shout along.
Chances are that anyone but jazz aficionados would be familiar with any of these tunes, with the possible exception of “Tuxedo Junction”, the Glenn Miller standard, and “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, which a certain generation would have beloved from a Tom & Jerry cartoon. “San Francisco Fan” is a nice slice of hi-de-ho, and if you don’t get a twitch of a smile at “Jack, You’re Dead” and “Five Guys Named Moe”, then there’s something wrong with you.
Okay, so maybe a swing album from an Angry Young Man wasn’t the best idea for the time, but once you get into the mood for it, Jumpin’ Jive is just plain fun. Amazingly, it even charted. (And, not that anyone was keeping score, but it also beat Elvis Costello’s country jaunt into stores by about six months.) Fast forward to the end of the century, when films like Swingers and The Brian Setzer Orchestra got the kids interested in the swing genre, the album was reissued with a new cover that aimed to be stylish but missed by using an anachronistic photo of the artiste. Nonetheless, it has remined essential.

Joe Jackson Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive (1981)—4


  1. Joe was definitely too far ahead of his time. The triad of Jumpin' Jive, Night & Day and Body & Soul just didn't work out for him. Despite his success with Night & Day, people weren't interested in jump blues or meticulously rendered torch songs.

    I bailed on him after Big World in 1986. I had liked several of his experiments and attended several of his concerts during this period. But each album was radically different from the next. Without the benefit of hit records to clue me in, I wasn't willing to take a chance on whatever had caught his fancy this time.

    Once I heard that he was interested in "serious" music, I didn't even bother picking up his albums and giving them a once-over.

    So much talent, so much promise. He just didn't connect the dots in a way that kept him in the forefront.

  2. The albums he made for the Rykodisc label show a Joe Jackson returned to his earlier form--and 1991's LAUGHTER AND LUST is plenty accessible (prior to entering the "serious music" phase).

  3. Hmmm. This perhaps calls for a new compilation for my blog. Would you like to volunteer Terry?

  4. I can think of a nice handful of tunes from the Ryko albums, plus one or two from Laughter & Lust. We will be getting to those soon enough (Rain has alresdy been reviewed here).