SP-3187 Look Sharp!
Produced by David Kershenbaum
Released on February 1979
UK CHART POSITION #40 . . . US CHART POSITION #20 . . . GOLD RECORD
Find it at GEMM
SP-3187 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

I n the summer of 77, Elvis Costello burst onto the new wave scene with the stripped-down, literate My Aim Is True. In the fall of 78, The Police captured international attention with their reggae-infected Outlandos d’Amour. In the winter of 79, Joe Jackson mixed the best elements of both for the year’s hottest debut, Look Sharp! (Again, not my explanation point, we’ve had this discussion already.) Sweet mystery of life, at last I’d found him! (My explanation point this time, you see the difference?) Like Elvis, JJ was a hopelessly angry romantic, the bitter wallflower fed up with watching the good-looking guy get the girl. “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” nails that emotion, “Pretty Girls” and “Fools in Love” second it. Jackson even gave us a second hero, Graham Maby, whose improbably up-in-the-mix bass was strong enough to carry the melody, the rhythm and probably their equipment from tour to tour. Gary Sanford’s guitar was more understated, similar to Andy Summers; Dave Houghton’s drums were straight from the Bun E. Carlos school of minimalism. While the Elvis comparisons are tempting (they might have slipped “Happy Loving Couples” on My Aim without anyone being the wiser), JJ rocks harder than Elvis ever did. (When Anthrax covers an Elvis Costello song, you let me know.) “Throw It Away” and “Got the Time” are true ravers in the Cheap Trick tradition. That the last sound on this album is a ticking clock couldn’t be more appropriate; few artists understood the get-in-get-out aesthetic as well as Jackson does here. Not one song overstays its welcome. Even the few cosmopolitan piano parts, the shape of things to come, pass quickly. No boring ballads, no B sides, no bones, this beats Elvis Costello and Graham Parker at their own game.

SP-3187 back cover
SP-3187 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. ONE MORE TIME    3:15
  2. SUNDAY PAPERS    4:22
  3. IS SHE REALLY GOING OUT WITH HIM?    3:33
  4. HAPPY LOVING COUPLES    3:08
  5. THROW IT AWAY    2:49
  6. BABY STICK AROUND    2:36
  7. LOOK SHARP!    3:23
  8. FOOLS IN LOVE    4:23
  9. (DO THE) INSTANT MASH    3:12
  10. PRETTY GIRLS    2:55
  11. GOT THE TIME    2:52

    All songs written and arranged by Joe Jackson

CREDITS

JOE JACKSON -- vocals, piano, harmonica
DAVE HOUGHTON -- drums
GRAHAM MABY -- bass
GARY SANFORD -- guitar
"Hot" Rod Hewison -- engineer
Michael Ross -- art direction
Brian Griffin -- photography
Denson -- shoes

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK February 1979 A&M LP/LPWHT/CS AMLH/CAM-64743 avail. in white vinyl
US February 1979 A&M LP/CS SP/CS-4743  
AUS'L 1979 A&M LPBLU L-36928 blue vinyl
NET 1979 A&M LP AMNP-113  
US   A&M 2-10 SP-3666 double 10" records
UK 1984 Hallmark LP/CS SHM/HSC-3154  
US   A&M LP/CD/CS SP/CS-3187 reissue
NET 1987 A&M CD 393187  
UK 1993 A&M 2CD CDA-24121 repackaged w. NIGHT AND DAY
US   A&M CD 86194 digital remaster

 

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