Songs You May Have Missed #586


Joe Jackson: “Awkward Age” (2003)

Unlike say, Al Green or Lynyrd Skynyrd, there is no one Joe Jackson sound. He started out making critically successful, highly-caffeinated pop-punk with the Joe Jackson Band, but abandoned the style almost immediately to explore other genres. His Jumpin’ Jive in 1981 presaged the neo-swing revival and with Night and Day the very next year he seemed to be trying on Cole Porter’s songwriting shoes.

But in 2003 he finally reunited with the band that backed him for his seminal hit “Is She Really Going Out With Him” and his first three albums. While the results were mixed, “Awkward Age” seems to recapture a bit of the classic vibe and energy.

Jackson’s message here is meant to embolden someone (specifically a fifteen-year-old female) trapped in a less-than-cool life situation, reminding her that “we’ll all be fine” and the awkward age can be any age.

Bonus points for the phrase “Klingon beauty queen”.

Songs You May Have Missed #144


Joe Jackson: “Kinda Kute” (1979)

“I’m the guy with the big feet but plenty of nerve” sings Joe as he tells the cutest girl in the room to go ahead and dance without him while he watches. Jackson’s first two albums, Look Sharp! and I’m the Man, both released in 1979, were full of seemingly effortless pop ditties like this. He’s explored a lot of other territory since, from Louis Jordan-style big band jazz to his latest release, a tribute to Duke Ellington. But for fans of pure pop, the early stuff is essential.

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