Monday morning and this weekend I've spent time with a three cd set I recently purchased.
Joe Jackson it has to be said was a guy who was very much on my radar growing up simply for both a classically trained musician and vocalist of some considerable ability but also a signed up member of the awkward squad who neither follows trends nor feels the need to make the last album sound like it's the second volume of the previous one, exploring and mining a sound as it interests him.
This retrospective came out in October 2010 and isn't the only one but it has the merit of uniting his work from 1979 through 2003 across three labels and of offering a generous selection from each of his albums including his hits.
His work comes more in two phases, the earlier being very much of three minute new wave inspired numbers but with more sensitivity lyrically and concern about quality of playing than was normal back in the late 70's which includes such stand out tracks as "It's Different For Girls" from the classic Look Sharp album.
Just as during the same era, other artists started exploring differing genres such as Elvis Costello's taking on country, Joe went back to his first love, Swing Jazz and cut an album of Swing classics but making them his own before finding a way of mixing elements of this with rock on his Night and Day album which I feel is 'must hear at least once album' with hit 45's Stepping Out and Breaking Us in Two, the former having a video played a lot on Much Music and MTV in those early days of music television following it up with several acclaimed albums.
I could make a decent argument for buying a handful of his albums but this compilation does have a number of non album tracks such as his The Hard They Fall single cover of the Jimmy Cliff reggae number and it's 'b' side and sensibly puts a good number of his live recordings such as a number from 1986's live "Big World" album on the third disc alone.
The point to say without getting super technical is the tapes these tracks were recording to have been extremely well transferred to cd bettering previous attempts and are quite simply stunning in preserving the full range of the recordings and the shimmer on the percussion instruments.
Although the packaging is bare bones, a two page mini biography and a list of songs and credits it's what's on the discs that counts.
One reason I bought this was to replace a few tapes I had of his and transfer them onto a card in full cd quality for my new mp3 player.
Given this can be had for just under £11 it is a considerable bargain.