In 1980 I was 14. Both of my brothers were long gone. Married doing their thang so to speak. Things were pretty nuts in my world, finishing up my freshman year of high school I was all that and a bag of insecurity. I certainly didn’t fit in with my peers and Im not really sure that I wanted to. I did want to save the world though, I was insanely interested in American politics, gangster and cults. The human mind fascinated me, most likely because I couldn’t figure out my own. At 14, you really have no clue but you know it all.
My clandestine trips to New York City only skewed my world more. I would spend my nights on darkened streets and my days in a school girl uniform. Alone surrounded by everything that intimidated me. There is insecure an there is self loathing. I teetered between the two. Still do actually.
One brother was living about an hour away attending University and I would now and then hop a bus to spend a weekend there. He lived in a sorta cool but rather dodgy city that had great shops. And a record shop, that shop (located to an army navy store touting ‘the world’s largest pair of pants’ in its window), that I bought the album ‘Beat Crazy’ by Joe Jackson.
I remember so clearly standing flipping through the albums and just loving the cover. I was familiar with Jackson from “I’m The Man”, one of my all time faves. He was so cute and clean for a bad ass. The mind of a 14 year old isn’t much different than my mind now! Cute helps- a lot. Joe was cute. ‘Nuffa this.. let’s have a listen
GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Beat Crazy! ‘whattayawantblood?’.. what a better way to start an album? I mean really 1980 high school freakin angst right there. The intense bass/drum combo is absolute perfection. How on Earth did this album tank when it opens like this? ‘smoking lsd and such it must be the reason that they can’t talk much’ … lovely tribute to my people. I think I blew a speaker on this one. ‘hole in the pocket and they look so mean’. Beautiful
“One To One” ‘Vegetarians against the clan- every woman against every man’ How insanely accurate is this song these days? A mans lament of missing his girl. She doesn’t have time for him and he’s sad. He just wants some one on one time. Emo in a time of no emo yet. Wonder how many relationships were destroyed by the Monday club. “But I don’t want to wear a badge- I don’t wanna wave a banner if you do….though I don’t mind if you do. You’re beautiful when you get mad”. Gorgeous.
“In Every Dream Home A Nightmare” guys this was 32 years ago. The thumpy bass and drum make this song haunt. The lyrics are perfection yet again. “look round every home town a night mare” be careful what you wish for.
“The Evil Eye”, I have sung this song so loud while dancing around a room like a idiot for decades. Poppy drums with angsty lyrics. “Don’t think I’ll live til 19”. Wonder what the real meaning of this was- wonder if it would matter. See that’s why I have no place with your audiophiles- I’d much rather figure it out myself then know that the lead singer had a dentist appointment so he wrote the lyrics under the influence of Novocain….
“Mad At You”-what a prick this guy is huh? We all know him, some of us more than others. A fucking idiot man flipping out over eggs. In a passive aggressive odd to redneck hell Jackson takes us on a plucky journey into dysfunctional relationships.
“Crime Don’t Pay” Jackson is back as ‘the man’. He did his best to be rebellious but his bubble snapping melodies took the edge of the sinister. “Got drunk with a real nice guy last night’…
“Someone Up There” another bass heavy masterpiece. What a beautiful story set to music. ‘someone out makes the sun and sea, someone out there brought my girl to me’. A tune of love lost set with spit scream anger from the adorable Jackson. The girls must have squee’d. Can you please go listen to the ridiculous bass work? Those fingers bled. ‘And just for once.. you can’t fight back’ Jackson screams and he means it and it hurts
“Battleground” is a bit tricky but very visual. It sounds contrived but I’m sure it was sincere. “White nigger sighs I like your music I like your style I crack a joke so why don’t you smile?”, this was part of the whole rock against racism jazz. BASS out of control. I suppose it’s a great tune but it didn’t age well. Joe sounds like a wuss.
“Biology” This should be required listening to every person on Earth “little white things with little white tails that multiply and start to shout, it’s getting crowded in here let us out’. The ‘HULLO’ opening word reminds me of a man I know when he’s feeling snarky. Infidelity dismissed as a scientific phenomena. ‘nothing to do with our bed’. The broad has her shot at it too- great message.
“Pretty Boys” I still refer to ‘those guys’ as pretty boys. Joe’s insecurity could well be showing “talent don’t count” The delicious reggae thump in this is contagious for a spontaneous dance party. Really. “Fu fu fu fu fu prettyyyyboyssss”
Claiming that all the heroes are no brains and no heart- just pretty. Pretty accurate really if you think about it. The media is not kind to the unattractive but then again neither is the world- so fix it. The harmonica is haunting almost hollow and out of place. I recall this song clearly cuz I couldn’t figure out why Joe wouldn’t think he was a pretty boy cuz I thought he was quite foxy indeed.
“Fit”, well this is a bit melodramatic now but back in the day to an insecure teenage girl it was an anthem. ‘if you don’t fit, you’re fit for nothing at all’. Joe was no teenager when he recorded this. Was it therapy or just playing to market? The difference for this song to a 14 year old rather than a 24 year old is simple. The 24 year old is at peace with themselves by that age but at 14 ‘all ugly sisters must wear glass slippers or get out of town’. Jealousy inadequacy simple teenage melodrama.
Again stunned this album did so poorly. I find it a whole lot more fulfilling than that ‘Stepping Out’ crap, or ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him” stuff. This is Joe Jacksons second best album. First being “I’m The Man”, stick that in your ‘Look Sharp’ and smoke it.