’80s splash long over, but Joe Jackson still drips emotion


No such thing as tomorrow, only one two three go! / Time, got the time tick-tick-tickin’ in my head, chimes Joe Jackson on “Got the Time,” the parting shot on his stunning debut “Look Sharp!” The album is a classic of the New Wave era of the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Jackson, along with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, was once tabbed as one of rock’s angry young men. While he has been under the radar for the past decade or two, the 53-year-old singer-pianist continues to crank out albums full of the emotion of a young punk and the subtlety of a slick jazz crooner. And the romantically scarred man suspicious of authority remains the same.

“I think it’s a cliché that when you’re young, you’re just rebellious against any kind of authority,” Jackson says on the interesting companion DVD packaged with the CD version of “Rain.” “I find that the older I get, the less credibility I think any kind of authority has.”

Born David Ian Jackson in the midsized town of Burton upon Trent in the English Midlands, Jackson studied at the Royal Academy of Music before finding punk rock. Along with his crack band, he catapulted into the spotlight with a trio of major-label releases in a two-year span: “Look Sharp!”; 1979’s “I’m the Man”; and 1980’s “Beat Crazy.” The records established Jackson as an angsty songwriter with a penchant for jazz-inflected chord progressions.

Jackson further explored his jazz roots with the big-band album “Jumpin’ Jive” in 1981 and his ode to New York City, “Night and Day,” which sported his biggest hit, “Steppin’ Out,” and the gorgeous “Breaking Us in Two.”

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