Über Joe Jackson
No one, not even Elvis Costello (his fellow ex-angry young man) has had a more interesting and diverse modern pop career than Joe Jackson. Late 1970s hits such as "Look Sharp" were energized by Punk, but Jackson's first three albums had an angular, streamlined sound all their own. Recorded after a pre-Swing Revival/Big Band rave-up, Night & Day (1982) was a sophisticated combination of caustic observations and gentle music. His biggest hit, it helped jumpstart Adult Alternative along with Roxy Music's Avalon. After that, each worthy mainstream experiment -- a jazzier work, a guitar-driven tour of modern life, film soundtracks -- resulted in a number of great songs, but drove Jackson further down the charts until he opted out of the pop game altogether in 1994. Albums like the jazz and rock-influenced orchestral song suite Heaven and Hell are intriguing, but rather pointless. Jackson's real talents lie in matching a multitude of musical interests and personal observations with mainstream song craft.