Like those of many talented musicians, Joe Jackson’s greatest strengths as a songwriter intertwine with his musical shortcomings. It’s difficult to find a better example of such a paradox than Night and Day. While Jackson’s well-known ability to tap into cultural zeitgeists is on full display, so is his occasional tendency to mimic the authentic article. Night and Day contains enough flash to justify the price of admission, but it could’ve been more memorable.
Take the title track, every bit as good as Cole Porter’s finest work. It remains undeniably thrilling. Seductive arrangements on songs like “Breaking Us in Two” contain Latin lilt and charm that immediately evoke Antonio Carlos Jobim. And “Real Men” feels as clever and anthemic as the best of Broadway’s past and present. Interspersed, however, are clunkers like “T.V. Age” and the salsa pastiche of “Target.”
Throughout, the sonics prove rich and satisfying. Yet Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive—the singer’s 1981 tribute to swing classics written by the likes of Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan, and a set that clearly informed his subsequent album—suggests Night and Day could have possessed added scale and impact if it had been recorded with more musicians and on a bigger stage.
Intervention Records continues its stellar track record with this reissue. From the film-laminated tip-on cover to the flat, ultra-quiet RTI pressing, the label’s presentation matches the elegant and polished music. Kevin Gray’s all-analog remastering preserves the original recording’s warmth while adding snap to the instrumental attack. Micro-details are also more audible than they seem on the original U.S. pressing. The most impressive aspect? Some hints of 80s-era stridency and compression heard in the upper registers of the original LP have disappeared, resulting in a more relaxed, organic sound.
*VinylReviews.com is owned and operated by Intervention Records’ Founder Shane Buettner.
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