Reap This Righteous Riff: Joe Jackson

Posted: December 11, 2012 in Jazz
Tags: ,

I guess it sometimes a look back that makes people realize just how ahead of your time you might be.  Take the case of Joe Jackson.  Back in the day, Joe ruled the late ’70’s and early ’80’s charts with a major string of pop hits.  Time was (around 1979) that you couldn’t turn on a radio without hearing “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” or his 1982 hit “Steppin’ Out”.


Jumpin’ Jive” was Joe’s 1981 release and a collection of covers of classic 1940’s swing and jump blues songs.

The songs were all originally performed by musicians such as Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway, the latter of whom’s song “Jumpin’ Jive” gave the album its title.

Here’s the thing, Jackson’s homage to jump blues anticipated the so-called “retro-swing revival” of the mid-to-late 1990’s by fifteen years. Groups such as Squirrel Nut Zippers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Brian Setzer owe a lot to Joe.

The rhythms on these original classics and Joe’s later covers is purely infectious.  I’d challenge anyone to play a few of these and not be tapping their toes in short order.  Now picture listening to the originals in a swing club in Harlem at 2AM on a Saturday night in 1952.

Joe picked some great tunes for his homage.


A publicity shot of a pale Jackson – somewhat Christopher Walken like I think!

Track listing

1.”Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid” (Lester Young, King Pleasure) – 2:43

2.”Jack, You’re Dead” (Walter Bishop, Dick Miles) – 2:46

3.”Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” (Bill Austin, Louis Jordan) – 4:57

4.”We the Cats (Shall Hep Ya)” (Cab Calloway, Jack Palmer) – 3:19

5.”San Francisco Fan” (Sammy Mysels, Dick Sanford) – 4:28

6.”Five Guys Named Moe” (Jerome Bresler, Larry Wynn) – 2:30

7.”Jumpin’ Jive” (Cab Calloway, Frank Froeba, Jack Palmer) – 2:41

8.”You Run Your Mouth (and I’ll Run My Business)” (Louis Armstrong) – 2:31

9.”What’s the Use of Getting Sober (When You’re Gonna Get Drunk Again)” (Busby Meyers) – 3:46

10.”You’re My Meat” (Skeets Tolbert) – 2:54

11.”Tuxedo Junction” (Erskine Hawkins, Buddy Feyne, William Johnson, Julian Dash) – 5:18

12.”How Long Must I Wait for You” (Paul Specht) – 4:06


 From Joe and his forebearers…Enjoy!

  1.  “What’s the Use of Getting Sober…” – Louis Jordan
  2.  “Jack You’re Dead” – Joe Jackson
  3. “You Run Your Mouth and I’ll Run My Business, Brother” – Louis Armstrong
  4. “Jumpin’ Jive” – Cab Calloway
  5. “Five Guys Named Moe” – Joe Jackson
  6. “You’re My Meat” – Louis Jordan



  1. I love JJ. One of my highlights of 2012 was catching Joe in London with his “Bigger Band” playing the music of Duke Ellington. Check out his new “Duke” album, Tim, if you haven’t, it’s outstanding.
    Great post. I’ve been in the mood for some old jazz recently. 🙂


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