Thursday, February 2, 2012

Joe Jackson -- "Breaking Us In Two" (1982)

Don't you feel like trying something new?
Don't you feel like breaking out
Or breaking us in two?
You don't do the things that I do
You want to do things I can't do
Always something breaking us in two
Are you surprised to see me posting on consecutive days instead of following my usual three-posts-a-week schedule?

Surely you haven't forgotten that 2 or 3 lines celebrates February -- the shortest and most depressing month of the year -- by doing "29 Posts in 28 Days"?  Actually, because it's a leap year, we're doing "29 Posts in 29 Days" this year.

Not a good movie
(You're very welcome -- but please stop clinging to my ankles and kissing my feet and shouting loud "Hosannas" . . . you're embarrassing me!)  

Yes, I know you don't deserve this much first-rate bloggery.  Most of you forget to read 2 or 3 lines unless I remind you, never respond to my solicitations of guest posts, and -- worst of all -- never click on my ads.  But I'll forgive you if you promise to do better in the future.

Joe Jackson
Does anyone listen to Joe Jackson's music any more?

Jackson is best known in the United States for his first single, "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"  He released two albums in 1979 (Look Sharp! and I'm the Man) and another one in 1980 (Beat Crazy) -- each one stronger than the one it succeeded.  

After recording Jumpin' Jive in 1981 -- it was a collection of covers of classic 1940's swing and "jump blues" songs originally performed by Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan and others of that ilk -- he released another album of original songs, Night and Day, the following year.

"Breaking Us In Two" is from that album, which made it to the top five in both the United States and the UK.  Jackson is a keyboard player, and his first three albums depended much less on guitars than most rock/pop records.  Night and Day doesn't use guitars at all -- the instrumentation is sort of Billy Joel-ish, but Jackson is a far superior songwriter.

Jackson is often compared to Elvis Costello (who is also English and only 14 days younger).  Both started out doing a clever and quirky brand of pop.  Their music seemed straightforward enough, although it was more sophisticated than it first appeared.  

Elvis Costello
But it was the words that made both Jackson's and Costello's songs memorable.  They wrote sad songs and happy songs and happy/sad songs, but their lyrics were consistently interesting and original.

Jackson and Costello each worked their way through a number of musical genres as their careers progressed.  Both released jazz albums and recorded with classical musicians.  I like their oldest albums the best, but I give them credit for not being content to recycle their early hits for 30 years like so many musicians from that era.  Elvis and Joe never got stuck in the oldies/classic-rock time warp.

I like Costello a lot, but I think Jackson's songs deserve just as much respect.  This is not one of my very favorite Jackson songs, but it's the obvious choice for today's post.  If you haven't figured out why that is, I'm sure it will all become clear to you in another day or two.

Here's "Breaking Us In Two."  (The music video is very dated looking and a little clich├ęd.  Focus on the music.)

Click here if you'd like to buy this song from Amazon:


  1. "Night and Day" was not at all an end to Jackson's musical adventures.
    He later recorded some of the finest music I had the chance to hear. Just try the albums "Big World" or "Blaze of Glory". Even "Night music" is a wonderful piece of art though a drift into more "classical" areas.
    I saw him live several times (last time was 2010),
    and he tends to get a bit "boring" because he's doing his trio thing so many years now, which wasn't a JJ trademark at all.

  2. Joe Jackson, has always and will always be my all time favorite artist. Decades of simply, perfect music.....

  3. Joe Jackson is one of my all time favorite singer/songwriters. And Breaking Us In Two was always one of my favs. But his last 2 studio releases (Volume 4 & Rain) are as strong as anything he released in the early days. Check out his 2011 Live Music release - such a great mix of old and new songs, and Joe proves he is still an amazing live performer.

  4. Most talented musician in the universe... Every single album is a masterpiece. Though, I too, would love to see a Big World type tour.

  5. I am just wondering if I'll ever be able to read a review about JJ without some reference to Elvis Costello? Does it really matter?

  6. Joe Jackson possibly one of the greatest and most underrated talents in the history of pop music.

  7. Joe Jax is THE most underrated talent in the history of pop music. A brilliant, authentic, and versatile artist.

  8. Coincidentally Joe's long time Drummer is a leap year child....he actually has a birthday this year Happy B'day to my mate for end of month

  9. I would appreciate it if any or all of you would let me know (by posting a reply here) where you found out about this post -- did you find a link to on another site or forum, or were you searching for info about Joe Jackson, or . . . ?

    1. Hi I found this post through Facebook, The Joe Jackson Band linked it.......By the way Joe is just brillant, the first album I played for my husband in 1983 was Night and Day. And we're still together after all this time :-) And still Joe Jackson fans and so are our adult sons :-)

    2. Thank you, Heather -- maybe Joe himself posted the link to this on the band's Facebook page? (Hey, I can always fantasize.)