SK60273 Heaven & Hell
Produced by Joe Jackson and Ed Roynesdal
Released on September 2, 1997
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
SK60273 cover
[high resolution scan]

T his opens with an instrumental “Prelude” featuring only violin and bongos. Or maybe that’s just violin and the sound of me slapping my forehead with my own hand. I should know better than to walk into these latter-day JJ albums like a lamb going to the slaughter, humming “Kinda Cute.” Heaven & Hell is a concept album based on the seven deadly sins, released on the Sony Classical label, credited to Joe Jackson & Friends. Red flags, all of them, like the one I’ve got over my eyebrows. By the end of the second track, Jackson has built such a barricade around himself (“The Artist”) that I (“The Patsy”) was tempted to turn back. If you make it to “Angel,” you’re in luck; what follows is a very intelligent (if awfully ambitious) album. It isn’t a classical album in the usual sense; not even in the usual “pop artist moonlighting as a classical composer” sense. Sure, there’s a prelude, a passacaglia, a couple of fugues (just in case you didn’t give one), but this is basically the same smartly arranged, cosmopolitan music he’s been making since Night and Day, in quasi-classical trapping. Mixing elements of classical, pop and modern rock, Heaven & Hell features the by-now familiar dichotomies of Jackson’s muse: angry and intellectual, mature and sarcastic. It’s done almost like a dramatic work, the heavy load lightened with guest vocalists (Suzanne Vega, Brad Roberts) while Jackson plays the roles of Pride and puppeteer. Heaven & Hell is another interesting chapter in a storied career, but the back pages are sticky from this self-indulgent ego-stroking and I’m wondering if a little light reading isn’t in order (You make a guy feel humble...).

SK60273 back sleeve
SK60273 back sleeve


  1. PRELUDE    2:59
  2. FUGUE 1/MORE IS MORE    5:32
  3. ANGEL    7:11
  4. TUZLA    7:33
  6. RIGHT    4:40
  7. THE BRIDGE    5:59

    All music, words and arrangements by Joe Jackson


JOE JACKSON -- vocals, instruments, bongos, art direction
Kenny Aronoff -- drums (6)
Joy Askew -- vocals (4)
Avatar Rainbow Coalition -- voices (4)
Katherine Beeson -- viola
David Blinn -- viola
Allison Cornell -- viola
Jared Crawford -- plastic buckets (6)
Cenovia Cummins -- violin
Stephanie Cummins -- cello
Mark Feldman -- violin
Erik Friedlander -- cello
Juliet Haffner -- viola
Joyce Hammann -- violin
Sue Hadjopoulos -- congas and bongos (3,7)
Dan Hickey -- drums (6)
Naomi Katz -- violin
Judy LeClair -- bassoon (5)
Richard Locker -- cello
Sandra Park -- violin
Radio Croatia -- voices (4)
Mary Rowell -- violin, viola, string section coordination
Todd Reynolds -- violin
Brad Roberts -- vocals (5)
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenburg -- solo violin (1,8)
Laura Seaton -- violin
Jane Siberry -- vocals (7)
William Sloat -- acoustic bass
James Tsao -- violin
Dawn Upshaw -- vocals (3,4)
Suzanne Vega -- vocals (3)
Dan Gellert -- engineer
P.R. Brown -- art direction, design and layout
Jana Leon -- photography

US September 2, 1997 Sony Classical CD SK60273  
AUSL 1997 Sony CD ASK-60273  
JPN 1997 Sony CD SRCS-8425  


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