changed his mind when he realized that teaming up with guitarist
Gary Sanford, bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton again
didn't have to be a musty trip down memory lane. The result of his
change of heart is the group's first album since 1980, "Volume
4" (released on Tuesday). "This band always had great
chemistry, and it just came back more easily than we expected,"
he says. "(The new CD) really shows where we are now and not
where we were 20 years ago."
48, is certainly no stranger to change. In his more than 25-year
career, he has flirted with 1940s jump and swing music, post-punk
New Wave, symphonic music (he won a Grammy for his classically-based
1999 album, "Symphony No. 1") and jazz. "I don't
see huge barbed-wire fences in between different kinds of music,"
he says. "I'm more guided by taste and intuition than I am
son of Ron, a British Navy man, and Vera, a homemaker, the Portsmouth,
England-raised Jackson began realizing his musical talent when he
was an 11-year-old violin student. By the age of 15, says Jackson,
"I knew that I was a musician. There wasn't really nothing
I could do about it."
18, he entered London's Royal Academy of Music on a composition
scholarship and began playing in bands. "I was just interested
in everything, trying everything," he recalls. Three years
later, he graduated and took on various gigs — as musical
director of a cabaret act, for one — before forming the group
Arms & Legs, which earned him his first record contract in 1976.
The group was short-lived and, in 1978, Jackson formed the Joe Jackson
Band, which recorded only three albums — including 1979's
gold-selling "Look Sharp!," which spawned the singles
"Is She Really Going Out with Him?" and "Look Sharp!"
— but garnered a lot of attention on the pop-music scene.
Jackson also earned a reputation as an "angry young man."
"I think that I had a rather defensive attitude a lot the time,"
he says. "I was a little scared of being overwhelmed by it
pressure would increase with the dissolution of the group in 1980
and Jackson's foray into a solo career. With his 1982 album "Night
and Day" and its eponymous single, Jackson became an unlikely
MTV favorite and radio staple. "I didn't think anyone was gonna
like it, I didn't think it would get played on the radio,"
recorded prolifically through the remainder of the 1980s but hit
a roadblock in the early 1990s. Exhausted from touring in 1991,
he entered a depressive period that would last two years. During
that time, he couldn't even listen to music. "I was just burned
out. I couldn't write anything," he says. He "gradually
found my way back into making music again," marking his return
with 1994's "Night Music."
A new attitude accompanied Jackson's fresh start in music. "I
could only really do something that I was excited about, regardless
of whether it had mass appeal or not," he explains. The 1997
concept album "Heaven & Hell" and 2000's "Night
and Day II" would follow. He also became an author, chronicling
his life in the 1999 memoir "A Cure for Gravity."
the twice-divorced Jackson — who splits his time between his
New York City and Portsmouth, England homes — lives by "the
Samurai Code, which is 'Expect nothing, but be ready for anything.'"
Though he is touring behind "Volume 4" with his longtime
mates, he doesn't expect to record another album with them. "That's
not the plan," he says.
future plans do include doing more soundtrack work (he has scored
and contributed music to films including 1988's "Tucker,"
1991's "Queens Logic" and 1993's "Three of Hearts")
and possibly writing a musical, but, says Jackson, "I never
really know what I'm gonna do next. I just think about the next