BRITISH LIVE PERFORMANCE SERIES
Rainman Records (CD)
By John Curley
This release in the British Live Performance Series from Rainman Records was recorded in August 1980, at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England. It was broadcast by Central Television in the U.K. in April 1981. The nine-song set featured here shows how well Joe Jackson worked with his excellent backing band, which included guitarist Gary Sanford, bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton. The band was firing on all cylinders and delivered a terrific, energetic performance.
Jackson and the band deliver a sonic punch straight away with the opening track “I’m The Man” that features stellar guitar work from Sanford. Jackson talked to the crowd for a bit before launching into the second track “Evil Eye,” which he said was about a guy who works in a butcher shop in the Peckham district of London. “Evil Eye” features interesting lyrics and stinging fretwork from Sanford.
Other highlights of the album include: a fantastic version of “Look Sharp!” that features biting vocals by Jackson and Houghton’s pounding drums during the instrumental break, the ska-sounding “Pretty Boys” that is quite reminiscent of the music that The Specials were doing at that time and a blistering take on “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” that drew the biggest cheers of the show.
Jackson showed his cheeky sense of humor when, while introducing the song “Pretty Boys,” he told the crowd that the concert was being televised and then cracked, “We’re here to prove that ugly people can be TV stars, too.”
While the performance by Jackson and his band is top-notch, the sound quality does leave a bit to be desired. And that’s too bad, because this set deserved better.