To mark the release of Joe Jackson’s terrific new album Fast Forward, Popdose considered his vast and varied catalog of music to find songs that weren’t “Is She Really Going Out With Him,” “You Can’t Get What You Want (‘Til You Know What You Want),” or “Stepping Out.” As great as those songs may be, they inhabit a disproportionate amount of conversation about the artist and his work.
Here are ten great Joe Jackson songs that either might have passed you by or, at one point, you thought were too esoteric for your tastes. Let’s give them a go.
10 Tilt – From the The Harder They Come EP, here’s a short track that packs just as much into its small space as the songs on Look Sharp! and I’m The Man do.
9 One To One – Beat Crazy is a polarizing album in that listeners were getting their first taste of how wide-ranging Joe’s grasp of music was. “One to One” may be one of the more conventional on the disc, but it contains some of his trademark trenchant humor and observations about society and love relationships.
8 Geraldine and John – Sometimes those relationships are fraught with peril, as is imagined on this I’m The Man track where the titular couple canoodle with each other, not their own spouses.
7 Moonlight – A gorgeous if slightly doomy track from the Mike’s Murder soundtrack, “Moonlight” also surfaces on the deluxe version of Night & Day.
6 Loisaida – This instrumental from Body and Soul put’s Joe’s arrangement skills front and center to miraculous effect. The title is a slight bastardization of “Lower East Sider.”
5 Only The Future – From the Night Music album where Joe mixed his orchestral-compositional side with pop leanings. The disc is oft maligned for never committing to one or the other aspect fully, but it produced some terrific songs anyhow.
4. The Other Me – From the “Should have been a hit” category, this track from Laughter and Lust has everything you could want from a pop tune.
3 It’s All Too Much – Another one from Laughter and Lust, this is a bit of a screed against consumerism and having too much for the sake of variety versus necessity. It can come off too much like a pop lecture, but on the whole remains above the line far better than other songs on similar subjects.
2 Stranger Than You – Night and Day II is probably an ill-advised project, doomed to comparison from the start and, more problematically, several of the songs simply don’t hang together. This one (and “Happyland,” not on our list) are exceptions.
1 Love At First Light – For all the lovelorn city-dwelling “vampires” after the pub crawl, here’s one of those patented Jackson tracks — like “Breaking Us In Two” or “Be My Number Two” — that can make you believe in romance again, either in or out of it.
Bonus: Common People – It’s a Pulp song, sung (?) primarily by William Shatner and produced by Ben Folds, but the sudden interruption of Joe at the chorus is oddly thrilling. Try not to get just a wee bit hyped up when he jumps in.