Release Date: Jun 26, 2012
Record label: Razor & Tie
Genre(s): Vocal, Pop/Rock, American Popular Song
On this Duke Ellington tribute, Eighties star (and longtime jazz dabbler) Joe Jackson interprets the great composer's classics via his own sophisti-pop style, jettisoning horns entirely on a series of crisp arrangements. Iggy Pop coils himself around a lounge-y "It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)," Questlove drives a hard-swinging "Rockin' In Rhythm," and Jackson’s own rendition of "I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)" is movingly subtle. Even when it's too adult-contempo (see Steve Vai grating new age cheese all over "Isfahan") this album always has one thing going for it – it makes you want to listen to some Duke Ellington.
Joe Jackson is a sophisticate, and that's his blessing and his curse. Early on in his career, Jackson made it obvious he wanted to be more than just another clever pop songwriter in a skinny tie, and his ambition to experiment with other sounds and textures led to fine and adventurous albums like Night and Day and Big World. Unfortunately, it also resulted in botched orchestral experiments like Will Power and Night Music, and though he's shown a knack for swing-era jazz in his soundtrack work (particularly on his score for Francis Ford Coppola's Tucker: The Man And His Dream), his compulsion to prove he's more than some guy with good hooks truly gets the better of him on 2012's The Duke.
Joe Jackson gained popularity in the late ’70s with his debut pop rock album, Look Sharp!, which featured the hit single “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”. Over the next 30+ years, Jackson has released a number of albums that define the phrase “eclectic mix.” From reggae to swing to Cole Porter tributes, Jackson’s music has refused to fit nicely into a genre. His new record is a tribute to big band legend Duke Ellington called The Duke.