Warner Vision/Warner Vision .
R4 . COLOR . 59 mins .
E . PAL
After bursting into the wider public consciousness with the odd late ‘70s new wave-tinged hit such as Is She Really Going Dow…, erm, Is She Really Going Out With Him?, it didn’t take long for Joe Jackson to show his true colours. A lover of keyboard-like objects from way back, on a similar trajectory to his brilliant contemporary Elvis Costello he mellowed somewhat, with classics such as Real Men and Different For Girls ensuing, before a slide into all things jazzy and salsa-influenced. Still, while his musical styles may have ducked and dived (or indeed jumped and jived), one thing remained a constant – Jackson’s remarkable vocal talent.
Shhh! We're hunting wascally percussionists...
This presentation, a selection of tracks culled from a 2002 tour, is as perfect a demonstration as anybody could ask for as to the fact that he’s still got it vocally. Assembling a slightly different band for this jaunt – keyboards (of course, bass, a string duo, drums and copious amounts of over the top percussion – a mixture of hits and lesser known tracks are wheeled out, the prior often radically remixed (a word that’s often a synonym for “made crap’ – which is sadly apt for a couple of tracks here) and the latter neatly nutshelling his remarkable array of influences, from Latin beats to disco with much in-between.
While sadly a couple of his fan-pleasers – the aforementioned (and simply gorgeous) Different For Girls and Stepping Out just for starters – are missing, there is still enough for casual fans of the man to get into, all intermingled with enlightening interview snippets between most songs. Although with a sub-one hour running time, and these concerts having gone for around two hours, you can’t help but wonder what was cut and why – after all, DVDs are big, don’t you know?
Hell of a Town
You Can’t Get What You Want (‘Til You Know What You Want)
Stranger Than You
Is She Really Going Out With Him?
Stranger Than Fiction
Glamour & Pain
Got the Time
A Slow Song
Hey, it’s in widescreen the people exhort! Yes, but there’s no anamorphic enhancement… Still, what’s on offer here visually is pretty pleasing to the eye (assuming you can handle the epileptic camerawork), delivering a nicely film-like picture that whilst decidedly white at times (bright lights, bright lights!) has only minimal amounts of aliasing (microphones are such buggers!) and is otherwise enough to have most people joyfully off in Happyland.
The sound side of things sees us spoiled for choice, with DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and good old Plain Jane DD2.0 mixes all on offer. Unfortunately no matter which you plump for you’ll still get a mix that’s overly dominated by the often over-the-top percussion, basically it’s mixed way too loud and manages to run roughshod over much of the other instrumentation at times. Another potential niggle for some will be the odd examples of live recording perils such as hiss and the odd crackle feedback crackle or pop, and anybody who wants a “pure” mix will no doubt freak as Joe’s vocals burst forth from each of the three front speakers (in the 5.1 mixes, natch), while the surrounds carry a substantial amount of musical overlappy type stuff. These grumbles aside, it’s all clear and as perfectly synched as could be, which, of course, is nice.
While only two extras are included, the first is a doozie. Joe actually fronts up as his own support act, spending precisely 22:51 reading from his personal memoir/history of music A Cure For Gravity. A refreshingly self-deprecating look at his early musical days, this is engrossing from the opening seconds to the eventual, inevitable conclusion. The other bonus is an interview (7:38), whereby Joe chain-smokes his way through a bevy of questions covering everything from influences to putting his live band together, cleanness of sound and how music helped him connect to the world (man!)
OK, so he looks much like Elmer Fudd in human form, but Joe Jackson is one of those folks blessed with an immense talent, and while it's not perfect this DVD is still a decent example of all that he has to offer us mere wabbits - uh, mortals.
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "