Body and Soul has Joe Jackson playing both hot- and cool-styled jazz songs, getting some worthy help from producer David Kershenbaum, who also lent Jackson a hand on his I’m the Man album. This is Jackson at his smoothest, from the fragility of “Not Here Not Now” to the earnestness of “Be My Number Two.” While both this song and “Happy Ending” charted fairly low in the U.K., the explosive “You Can’t Get What You Want” went to number 15 in the United States, thanks to the brilliant horn work and colorful jazz-pop mingling of all the other instruments, not to mention Jackson’s suave singing. But the album’s energy isn’t spent entirely on one track. “Cha Cha Loco,” “Losaida,” and the cheery yet stylish “Go for It” carry Jackson’s snazzy persona and enthusiasm even further, laying claim to how comfortable he really is at playing this style of music. Sometimes sounding preserved and entertaining in the same light, Body and Soul uses some of the character of 1982’s Night and Day album, but instead of splitting up the music into mild jazz, pop, and modern R&B, he decided to tackle one of the genres wholeheartedly, and in doing so he came up with a truly impeccable release…. by Mike DeGagne …allmusic….~
After the huge success of Jackson’s previous album “Night And Day” Joe continued in generally the same direction musically although inflicting even more jazz, soul, and R & B influences here. The album produced the big hit with the snazzy “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Get What You Want), and was a successful album commercially. I like this one quite a bit better than "Night And Day”. The album starts out a little slow for me as “The Verdict” and “Cha Cha Loco” are probably my two least favorite songs on the album, but after that with the possible exception of “Go For It”, everything is great. “Not Here Not Now”, the instrumental “Loisaida”, “Happy Ending” which features an incredible vocal duet between Jackson and Ellen Foley, the somber duet “Be My Number Two” and the rousing finale “Heart Of Ice” are all top notch Jackson. For the most part this is a very strong Joe Jackson album and probably an essential disc for fans…by… Steven Sly…..~
A deliberate cover parody of Rollins’ Volume Two album (see below), Jackson here sets out to blend variations on themes found in previous albums (and cuts) while offering variety which always manages to keep pace steps far ahead of industry itself. It was Jackson who, upon seeing final product of video adaption of Night and Day (e.g., “Steppin Out”), made decision to literally abandon medium and stick strictly to format of musicality itself. In some sense I believe he is a formalist committed to the craft well beyond the mediocritic (pun non-intentional) and often slick fashioning of sundry packaging. Not as popish as previous or rhythmically jived as live album, Body and Soul figures prominently (strangely, in a quiet way) as transcending the literalness of commercial confines to the figurative of musical genius. Here is one impassioned to the form, the genre, the precision to innovate without fear of consequences. Good job, Joe….By jack schaaf…..~
Don’t Wait in the Wings
It seems the main trait of Body and Soul is its musical refinement. “Some people live so fast, they’re so scared of getting old. Some people keep on working, all they do is line their graves with gold. We don’t know what happens when we die, we only know we die too soon but we have to try or else our world becomes a waiting room…” And Joe Jackson tries hard. All the melodies boast rich, almost rhapsodic orchestration and the songwriting is at the top of creativity. “These words of love so hard for me to find. How can I change my mind if you can only lie? These shattered dreams I try to build again but looks could kill again and I’m too young to die. Smiling faces all around us, you don’t want to make a scene – not here, not now and I don’t want to cry.” Both “Not Here, Not Now” and “Heart of Ice” are terribly moody and they are the best songs on the album….by…Babe N Co ….~
Credit Joe Jackson for his willingness to try new things. On Body and Soul his “new thing” is to try the old approach to recording music. It works. Jackson sought out, and found an old cement and stone room to record the album in, and did the tracks essentially with only two microphones. It was however recorded on a then very modern digital system. The songs are a nice mix of styles from the dynamic metropolitan sound of “Losaida” (you can see a foggy New York skyline when you listen) to the Latin groove of “Cha-cha Loco”, to the teenage love of “Happy Ending” to the 80’s aerobic feel of “Go For It”, this is an album of many styles all played very well by Jackson’s usual stable of fine musicians. With the back bone of Graham Maby on bass, Vinnie Zumo on guitar, and Gary Burke on drums, Jackson has rarely gone wrong. He doesn’t go wrong here either, because this is a VERY fine album….by…..timregler …..~
Joe Jackson’s broad spectrum of influences intermingled in an unusual way on this 1984 outing. Reprising the Latin jazz touches and cosmopolitan pop of Night and Day, he adds hints of everything from Gershwin to '60s pop, for a more organic, old-school feel and a surprisingly cohesive sound. The album’s hit was the breezy R&B tune “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)”. It’s surrounded by tracks that mate Jackson’s sophisticated pop savvy with moments of Phil Spector–tinged grandeur (“The Verdict,” “Be My Number Two”), dashes of New York City salsa (“Cha Cha Loco”), and a cinematic, orchestral-style jazz instrumental (“Loisaida”)……~
In a lot of ways, the 1980s were a strange decade. Speaking specifically to the musical output there was a lot to like, but it was dominated by fads and failed experiments. As someone who had limited access to music other than what my parents played or what popular radio had to offer, the 80s were a kind of dark period for me until much later in life. But during those dark times some names were always part of the conversation, even if they just skirted around the fringe. One of those names was Joe Jackson.
I feel like I’ve always known Jackson’s name. I knew that he had some radio hits but I absolutely could not name one of them. I knew he had a few hit records, one was Look Sharp, the other had a white and blue cover, maybe with a drawing of a piano or something on it. This is about as much as I knew about Joe Jackson. In my pursuit to fill in some holes in my fabric of music information I decided it was time to see what Joe Jackson was all about.
You might remember in May I started looking at albums and artists that people have recommended to me over the years or that are considered essential listening. I established a few key rules for myself: I have to listen to the album at least three times through before writing anything, and I cannot research the record or artist before writing. I picked up a dollar bin copy of Joe Jackson’s Body and Soul LP, hoping it would be representative of his work. That being said, one of the only things I remember people telling me about Joe Jackson is that each album is pretty different from the others. I also remember hearing that Body and Soul had some sort of jazz theme to it. When seeing the cover’s replication of a classic Blue Note LP this seemed likely to be true.
The first few songs of the record made me cringe a bit as they are loaded with 80s pop hooks that I couldn’t get into much then and haven’t warmed up to in the last 25 years. As the record progressed, I could at least appreciate Jackson’s writing ability. Overall, the first listen left me pretty flat. The next two times through, things started to blossom a bit. There is a jazz influence here; however, it is the smooth jazz sound of the 80s that permeates these songs, not the mid-century sound implied by the album cover. The second track “Cha Cha Loco” has become my favorite song on the record. There is a bit of a cha-cha sound, as the title indicates, but there is an 80s pop vibe as well. The two really shouldn’t work at all but Jackson has crafted this song in such a way that makes the two seem like a natural match.
The big radio hit that I remember is “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)” and I can safely say I still really don’t like this song. The 80s meets the worst of smooth 80s sax and isn’t even ironically good. I was pretty excited when I recognized “Be My Number Two,” but that excitement faded when I realized it’s a staple at my dentist’s office. As the record wound down for the last time, I read through the liner notes and discovered that Joe Jackson and producer David Kershenbaum wanted to make this album differently than a lot of records being made in the mid-80s. They wanted to use more traditional technology and gear, find a great room to record in rather than a stuffy modern studio….any of this sounding familiar? While the trend at the time was for heavy production, digital recording and lots of effects and overdubs, Joe Jackson wanted to get back to a classic style of recording. With that in mind, I would call Body and Soul a success.
Ok, so after spending some time with this record I can’t say I’m a Joe Jackson fan. I can see why he would appeal to a lot of people. He is a solid songwriter, has a voice that can hold its own against most, and is not afraid to try new things. One thing I do really like about him is how he manages to take the 80s pop sound and make it a lot more interesting than most of his contemporaries, and that alone makes him worth knowing…..knox rd…….~
A chameleon. A classically trained race musician. A bridge builder. Yes, when Joe Jackson blended pure, unfiltered jazz with some of the finest songs from the history of pop music in 1984 with his sublime Body and Soul , every true music lover knew that he had only one thing to do: hurry to the record store.
Not surprising: Jackson, together with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, has been labeled as one of the most talented angry young men in the late seventies . That loft thinking, however, the gentlemen critics were soon put in the fridge. Joe Jackson has practically swallowed all the musical water - he has even recorded some classic albums. Not surprising, given Jackson's conservatory background.
At the age of eleven, Jackson, born in 1954, began to follow violin lessons, initially to be able to miss the gym classes. Soon the young Jackson exchanges the violin for piano, he exchanges classical music for jazz and rock and learns to compose - at the age of sixteen he performs in the local bars of Portsmouth, sometimes as a permanent pianist, sometimes as group member of local bands.
But Jackson had to invent himself. And so that scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London when he was eighteen is more than welcome. Jackson, eternally a bit of a sleeper, graduates as a composer, but not in piano, but in violin and percussion. "A struggling rock songwriter and keyboardist with a degree in percussion, it was too ridiculous." After that, a whole series of performances and a much needed first demo, which ends up in a favorable wind on the desk of A & M Records manager David Kershenbaum, will follow. The rest is history. All from debut albums Look Sharp and I'm The Man , both from 1979, and successor Beat Crazy(1980) you feel that Jackson is something special, a composer pur sang that can sometimes get razor sharp from the corner. But Joe Jackson is also synonymous with versatile, and so he jumps with Jumpin Jive (1981) on old swing, blues and jazz compositions, while the follow-up Night & Day (1982) mostly beckons to Latin American salsa. But it is not until he turns to classical jazz with Body and Soul in 1984 that all pieces of the puzzle fall fully in place.
Because let's face it: from the opening track "The Verdict", Jackson grabs you by your scruff, holds the unsuspecting listener for an entire album with some of the most beautiful melodies that ever crept out of someone's pen. Heavy, bombastic brass instruments combine seamlessly with thunderous drums, a sparing dash of piano and Jackson's voice into a threatening cocktail that we still have not recovered from all those years. 'Cha Cha Loco' may not be more than a little spielerei with the chachacha, do not forget those masterly brass players, that aptly coined backing vocals and the finger-cutting vocals of Jackson.
But the real goose bumps still have to come. "Not Here, Not Now" is therefore a chillingly beautiful ode to nothing less than life and love itself. The song is, due to its very heavy subject, the sophisticated variety between quiet strophes, choruses that pull out all the stops and another sublime melody that Jackson seems to have a patent on, maybe a bit heavy on the stomach, so what ? You do not always order the lightest meal at restaurant? What's more, Jackson was smart enough at the time for his pièce de résistanceto give a sophisticated sequence, and so the last two songs from the A-side - single "You can not get what you want" and last minute "Go for it" - even a lame dance again, we dare a camel to bet on. Those bass that swing the pan! That masterly symbiosis between percussion and brass players! That total sound!
In "Loisada", the first song on the B-side, it begins to dawn on the listener: Jackson has to hide somewhere a teletime machine with which he secretly smuggled some jazz originals from the first half of the 20th century into the eighties and then immersed in his idiom. Just to say that the instrumental number is both jazz and vintageJackson is. And then we have not mentioned the singles "Happy Ending" and "Be My Number Two", two songs where lesser gods would have an arm for auction. Singer Elaine Caswell forms the bow in a beautiful duet with Jackson, which in itself is a great song: "Happy Ending" as an up-tempo apology for films that end well. "Be My Number Two" is then a love song that is none, a world-class song in which Jackson once again proves what kind of a gifted songwriter he is.
When the instrumental, jazzy song "Heart of Ice" blares through the speakers, you have a bit of a music lover long since your conclusion ready: jazz and pop music in this masterly record not a marriage of convenience, no: they form a love loving couple but can not stay away from each other. Body and Soul is one of the absolute highlights of Jackson's career and a record whose importance can not be described with a pen: never before had a pop artist plucked so richly from a genre that it differs completely from pop music ontologically. Jackson would still perform twice heavy in the live albums Big World (1986) and Live 1980/86(1988), but then, at least for his studio plates, the fat of the soup. Tip of the house: do not be tempted by the endless stream of Jackson compilations (he hates it himself), go for the real thing and buy this Body and Soul . Do you bet that even if you get Spanish choked with jazz, your week can not go wrong?....by...Filip Hermans...~
Michael Morreale – trumpet and flugelhorn
Tony Aiello – saxes and flute
Vinnie Zummo – guitar
Ed Roynsedal – piano, keyboards, violin
Graham Maby – bass
Gary Burke – drums
Elaine Caswell and Ellen Foley – vocals
Joe Jackson – vocals, piano, and sax