Monday, May 9, 2011

30 Songs, 30 Days (2010 Edition), Day Four: What's The Use Of Getting Sober (When You're Gotta Get Drunk Again by Joe Jackson

And now, ladies and gentlemen--one of my favorite musicians, in one of his most idiosyncratic periods.

I have been a fan of Joe Jackson from the start. Part of it is because while he may not be the most learned or accomplished singer, his voice is rubbed raw emotional. When he's singing, you're getting the real deal--no mannerisms, no vocal tricks to hide weaknesses, just a man who lets you know what he's feeling at all times. During those early blooms of the New Wave, Jackson found himself lumped in with the 'Angry Young Men' of pop music--but, much like fellow Angry Young Man Elvis Costello, Jackson branched out quickly to explore other aspects of his personality.

Which brings us to this song, and the other reason I revere Jackson--this is a man who doesn't stop exploring and challenging himself. In his career, he's done a reggae album, a collection of instrumentals, a full blown choral piece, two albums of film music...and an album of swing standards, Jumping Jive, which is where this song comes from. That last album is right up there with I'm The Man as one of my favorites of his work, and the reason for it is that this is not standards done ironically (like when David Johannson briefly transformed into Buster Poindexter), or as an attempt to keep his waning career vital (as any number of aging rockers--I'm looking at you, Rod Stewart). He made this album at the height of his career, a year before what is arguably his most famous album, Night And Day was released, because damnit, he likes this music.

As such, this is a painstaking recreation of Louis Jordan's 1942 novelty song bouyed by the love Jackson has for the source material and that aforementioned emotionality of Jackson's voice. I love this song, I love this album, and I wish more people would discover this.

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