First things first. In response to often angry questions from longtime devotees about the absence of a guitar on his latest album Rain, Joe Jackson would like us to know this:
“I just became interested in a more minimal approach,” he said in a phone interview from Milan.
Jackson was on a break from the European leg of a world tour in support of his first studio album in five years.
“I wanted to find out how big a sound and how much variety we could get with just bass, drums and piano. I had a feeling these songs could sound rich and spacious without guitar, bigger than our last album.
“Guitar and piano occupy the same space, and often they fight like divas.”
What irritates fans most is that on Rain, the British singer/songwriter and pianist is accompanied by only two of his three sidekicks from the original, iconic Look Sharp!-era Joe Jackson Band: bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton, but not guitarist Gary Sanford, who appeared on the band’s 2003 reunion album, Volume 4.
Not that Jackson gives a hoot about the past or the expectations of music consumers.
“I have no expectations at all about how my music will be received. Of course, I’m always happy when someone likes it, but I don’t think about charts and sales numbers and marketing.
“My process is simple. When I have enough songs I like — and sometimes a song can take three or four years to finish — I go into the studio all prepared, with everything arranged and rehearsed, and get out as quickly as I can. Sitting around in a studio experimenting — that’s not for me.”
Early in his career, Jackson said, he felt the need to produce albums consistently, “to justify my existence. Now I have a different way of working — it’s about quality, not quantity.”
In addition to several movie scores (Francis Coppola’s 1988 biopic Tucker is his favourite), Jackson has also written a semi-autobiographical “faux novel,” A Cure For Gravity, and is collaborating on a stage musical about the untold story of Victorian author Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula.
Jackson’s musical minimalism
First things first. In response to often angry questions from longtimedevotees about the absence of a guitar on his latest album Rain, JoeJackson would like us to know this: