Al Barger wrote a very nice tribute to Joe Jackson for his 48th birthday just today. Coincidentally, Jackson’s most popular album has jsut been re-released in Deluxe Edition form. Night and Day, originally released in ’82, was Jackson’s move into nocturnal Tin Pan Alley pop and piano cocktail jazz, where the energy of Anger was replaced with the glamor of Ennui.
While thematically the album is appealing, it falls down in the song department, beyond the classics “Steppin’ Out” and “Breaking Us in Two.” “Steppin'” overlays Cole Porter melodic sophistication over a pulsing electronic bass line, and perfectly captures the open-ended thrill of throwing oneself into the fray of communal urban nightlife. “Breaking” is a beautiful, sad, Latinesque ballad that struggles touchingly against the inevitable doom of a relationship. In addition, “Cancer” rides cleverly on a brighter Latin beat, decrying the lassitude of fatalism. But, um, that’s about it folks.
On the Deluxe Edition disc 2 are the not particularly edifying demos of six songs from the album; five songs from the Mike’s Murder soundtrack, of which only Latin/Caribbean “Laundromat Monday” is particularly noteworthy; and five songs from Joe Jackson Live 1980/86, including the rocking “On Your Radio” and “Look Sharp!,” an extended and lively “Cancer,” and an a capella (!) version of “Is She Really Going Out With Him,” which is a fun idea, but would have made a better one-minute intro to the “real” song rather than a 4:40 replacement of it.