Summer in the City: Live in New Yorkby Joe Jackson
On SUMMER IN THE CITY, rock sophisticate Joe Jackson steps out with a bare-bones piano trio to perform a batch of eclectic originals and covers that have marked and influenced his impressive 20-year recording career. Resting on the fluid grooves of bassist Graham Maby and the solid drumming of Gary Burke, Jackson tickles these 13 songs to life with his delicate, jazzy piano chops and some brave new arrangements of old chestnuts. For instance, a new rendition of "Fools in Love," from the 1979 album LOOK SHARP!, dares to abandon that irresistible reggae lilt in favor of a creeping bass line that suggests mystery as it segues into a contemplative verse of the Yardbirds' "For Your Love." It's a different take on some old favorites, but it works. Jackson also dips into other sides of his musical palette with a swingin', old-timey version of "Mood Indigo" and a cover of Steely Dan's "King of the World" that manages to milk the complexity out of the composition without weighing it down. His limp version of "Eleanor Rigby" we could have done without. Still, for Jackson fans who want to hear him in yet another setting -- that of the I-could-even-do-weddings-if-I-wanted-to! piano man -- SUMMER IN THE CITY offers another dose of his musical versatility.
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Between the three guys on this disc, there's so much raw energy, it's almost a tangible aura from your CD player. Jackson can go from energetic rock (title track, One More Time, Obvious Song) to plaintive haunting ballads (Eleanor Rigby et al.) with equal conviction. A great, bare-bones pop/rock CD.