Joe Jackson: Rain (Ryko/Elite)

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Joe Jackson: King Pleasure Time
Joe Jackson: Rain (Ryko/Elite)

By the end of the first, somewhat leaden track Invisible Man, even longtime fans might be gulping hard. But things take off after that clunker (which is much better live as the DVD which comes with early copies of this album shows).

Jackson's desperate sounding vocals and his exceptional piano playing get a long overdue showcase on this pared back outing with just the rhythm section from his old Joe Jackson Band.

By the pivot of the album -- the bluesy Uptown Train and hammering barroom romp of King Pleasure -- you could well be thinking this is Jackson's best/most consistent album in some time.

Then he delivers the ballad Solo/So Low ("solo, so low, the cupboards are bare, so now to dine on three stale crackers and a fifth of gin") which you wish Rufus Wainwright would cover, and later is the swipe at PR/media created rebels delivered with jerky Costello-like fury . . .

Jackson has, for a more than a decade, been the private passion of loyalists and this should certainly satisfy them. If you are a casual listener this is one to come back for, and you may even like the opener more than I do.

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