Joe Jackson's 20th studio album was released on Jan 18th 2019 on earMusic.
In Joe's own words: "When it looked like I'd be recording in late July and mixing around my birthday, in August, it struck me that the only other occasion that had happened was while making my first album. It still took a while for it to sink in: this would be 40 years on. How do I feel about this? Well, how would you feel?! It seems like quite a long time, but it doesn't seem that long. I don't feel much different. My hair has gone white, but eyes, ears and limbs are all still working. I'm still making music because I still love it; if I ever stop loving it, I'll stop doing it. I think I'm a much better player and singer than I was back then; whether my songs are better is a more subjective question, but I'm certainly more demanding of myself. The road to this album is littered with the wrecks of songs and half-songs that didn't make the grade. There are eight survivors, which I think is enough. How significant the resurgence of vinyl is, I'm not sure, but I did think of this as an album, with two complementary sides of about 20 minutes each.
Every time I've made an album, I've gone on tour afterwards, and after a month or two the songs are feeling better, the band is playing better, I'm singing better, and I'm saying 'damn, I wish we could record the album now'. Well, I finally did it. Straight into the studio at the end of a tour, still on the road, wherever we played the last show, we would record. It turned out to be Boise, Idaho. A nice place, as it happens, and we very quickly got much better performances than we would have gotten a month or two earlier. It was fun, too.
One of my inspirations for this album was the band I've been touring with on and off for the last 3 years. I've had many different line-ups but this one is special. I met Graham Maby when I was 18, and he's still one of the best bassists around. Doug Yowell is a vortex of energy on drums and Teddy Kumpel is the guitarist I always wanted to work with but could never find. Like my first album, this was a band effort, recorded and mixed (brilliantly, by Pat Dillett) in about a month.
I never have an overall theme in mind when I start trying to write songs for an album, but sometimes one will develop. In this case it's Comedy and Tragedy, and the way they're intertwined in all our lives. The songs are about fear and anger and alienation and loss, but also about the things that still make life worth living: friendship, laughter, and music, or art, itself. I couldn't have done this in 1979. I just hadn't lived enough. The title track Fool is about my favorite super-hero: the one whose special power is to make us laugh. He is immortal and invulnerable – you can't kill humor. And like Shakespeare's Fools, he is really no fool at all. I think it's the title track because in this battle of Comedy and Tragedy, he's the good guy, the one I'm rooting for."
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