11 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Joe Jackson was an accomplished musician as the ‘New Wave’ scene of the late 1970s attracted the attention of record labels looking to sign the next smart angry young songwriter. Streamlining his eclectic musical interests, Jackson zeroed in on a lean, mean sound that emphasized tight percussive pop with his caustic, observational insights. 1979’s I’m the Man was the quick follow-up to the immediate success of his debut album, Look Sharp! and its hit single “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” (released earlier in the year), and it starts fast and furious with “On Your Radio” laying down the gauntlet to “ex-lovers and enemies” who must now endure hearing Jackson taunting them over the public airwaves. The aggressive lockstep rhythm section, cemented by the melodic counterpoint of bassist Graham Maby, combines with the tight harmony arrangements for incredibly precise pop (“Geraldine and John,” “Kinda Kute,” “It’s Different for Girls”) that symbolizes the anti-excess of the ‘New Wave’ era. Jackson would expand his stylistic palette from here. But taken together with his debut, I’m the Man represents the equal of his fellow contenders from the ‘70s: Graham Parker, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Joe Jackson was an accomplished musician as the ‘New Wave’ scene of the late 1970s attracted the attention of record labels looking to sign the next smart angry young songwriter. Streamlining his eclectic musical interests, Jackson zeroed in on a lean, mean sound that emphasized tight percussive pop with his caustic, observational insights. 1979’s I’m the Man was the quick follow-up to the immediate success of his debut album, Look Sharp! and its hit single “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” (released earlier in the year), and it starts fast and furious with “On Your Radio” laying down the gauntlet to “ex-lovers and enemies” who must now endure hearing Jackson taunting them over the public airwaves. The aggressive lockstep rhythm section, cemented by the melodic counterpoint of bassist Graham Maby, combines with the tight harmony arrangements for incredibly precise pop (“Geraldine and John,” “Kinda Kute,” “It’s Different for Girls”) that symbolizes the anti-excess of the ‘New Wave’ era. Jackson would expand his stylistic palette from here. But taken together with his debut, I’m the Man represents the equal of his fellow contenders from the ‘70s: Graham Parker, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello.

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