Joe Jackson Band

By Peter Hemminger

As Dreamworks cartoons are to Pixar, as Fruitopia is to Snapple, so Joe Jackson is to Elvis Costello–not necessarily an imitator but sometimes too close for comfort. He’s certainly just as prone to moments of brilliance, as well as a tendency towards some insufferable tangents. But while Costello has mellowed out somewhat, Jackson can still be every bit the angry young man he once was and this shows superbly on Afterlife.

Unlike many live albums which are really just greatest hits albums with worse sound quality, Afterlife actually attempts to document the energy Jackson brings to the stage, especially with the now disbanded Joe Jackson Band. It also nobly attempts to cover songs and arrangements not previously included on live material.

The drawback to this is the notable absence of one of Jackson’s biggest hits, “Is She Really Going Out With Him.” It’s not really fair to expect a band to play all their hits 25 years later, but damned if I wasn’t hoping for it to show up on a hidden track. No such luck.

Afterlife shows why Jackson is one of the more beloved ’80s also-rans. It might not be the best introduction to Jackson’s work, but it’s certainly not the worst.

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