Universal's 2009 At the BBC double-disc set rounds up radio sessions recorded between 1979 and 1983 -- the peak years of the Joe Jackson Band, a period bookended by his Look Sharp! debut and his most popular album, Night and Day. The two discs are set up so they open with an earlier show and then close with a later one: the first has a Peel Session from 1979, then an 11-song set at the Hammersmith Odeon from 1982, while the second disc has a ten-song show from the Hatfield Polytechnic in 1980 and seven songs from Hitchin's Regal Theatre in 1983. This gives each disc a similar feel, with each opening up with a tight, nervy, exhilarating set that gives way to a more sophisticated set. Naturally, sophisticated is a bit of a relative term -- Jackson had yet to fully delve into his jazz obsessions but they were certainly flowering via Night and Day, and that can be heard on the 1982 and 1983 sets, in the songs from Night and Day and in how "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" is given an a cappella, doo wop arrangement. Even then, what impresses throughout At the BBC is the unbridled, palpable energy. This is vigorous, exciting music, better proof of the band's greatness as a live act than the quite good Live 1980/86 collection and one of the better punk
ew wave live sets available.