So Forgettable It's Crazy
When I heard that Joe Jackson moved to East Berlin to make this album, I was really excited. I thought of David Bowie's "Heroes" and ... I don't know, the girl from the Dresden Dolls, even. When I played Jackson's "Rain", however, I was just really disappointed. Jackson has made a jazzy piano rock album that is so forgettable it's crazy.
Being an established artist means that you can experiment and write all the really weird albums that you always dreamed of making when you were young and had to capitulate to recording contracts, a la Tom Waits. Jackson is the opposite: he's established, but he's made such a dull piece of music it's almost shameful. John Updike wrote "He realised it was a dream - he had nothing to tell the world", and that's what I think of when I listen to Joe Jackson. Mild mild mild.
Your parents might like this album if they don't speak English very well, and they're trying to listen to music in order to learn the language. Otherwise, they should just rock out to some Joe Cocker. The worst is that Jackson wanted to strip his sound down to make this album, so I expected some really personal pieces full of torrid stories of his long long life as a musician. Instead, we get tinkly jazz rock that offers neither the restrained passion of Chet Baker or early Tom Waits nor the gut-wrenching intimacy of the new school. Even Tom Petty's solo album doesn't suck this much.
What depresses me the most is that he's entitled a song "Citizen Sane". If you're going to reference one of the best and most original movies ever, at least make the song original sounding. Sheesh. Another is called "King Pleasure Time". What!? You sound like Borat, but without the hilarious intention. There's also a song called "The Uptown Train" and I hope against hope it isn't a reference to "Downtown Train". Other gems include "Solo (So Low)" - yes, that's how it's written - and "Good Bad Boy". Blargh. Maybe he forgot English when he was over there. In fact, he should have done the album in German if he was in Berlin, and then I wouldn't have to feel sick when I read his lyrics. Boo to old people music and commercial masquerades. Good bathos, boy.