Look Sharp! (Joe Jackson album)

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Look Sharp!
Studio album by Joe Jackson
Released 5 January 1979 (1979-01-05)
Recorded 1978, Eden Studios, London, England
Genre New wave, post-punk, punk
Length 36:28
Label A&M
AMLH 64743[1]
A&M/PolyGram Records
214 743
A&M/Universal Records
586 194 (2001 reissue)
Producer David Kershenbaum
Joe Jackson chronology
Look Sharp!
(1979)
I'm the Man
(1979)
Singles from Look Sharp!
  1. "Is She Really Going Out with Him?"
    Released: October 1978 (1978-10)
  2. "Sunday Papers"
    Released: February 1979 (1979-02)
  3. "One More Time"
    Released: May 1979 (1979-05)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau B[3]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[4]
Smash Hits 7/10[5]

Look Sharp! is the debut album by Joe Jackson, released in 1979.[1] The album featured one of Jackson's most famous songs, "Is She Really Going Out with Him?," as well as other singles, such as "Sunday Papers" and "One More Time."

The cover, featuring a pair of white shoes, ranked number 22 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest album covers of all time.

Background[edit]

Joe Jackson and his band, using money earned by Jackson from touring with the cabaret band Koffee 'n' Kream, began recording the album from fall 1977 to spring 1978 in a studio in Portsmouth.[6] However, after producer David Kershenbaum heard a demo tape from Jackson, he signed Jackson to A&M Records in 1978, after which Jackson and his band quickly rerecorded the album. This was then followed by a tour to promote the record.

"Is She Really Going Out with Him?" was released as a single in the UK prior to the release of Look Sharp!, but it, as well as follow-ups "Sunday Papers" and "One More Time," failed to make an impact on the charts. Look Sharp! also stalled upon its initial release, but upon the re-release of "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" in Britain (as well as a single release in the US), the album grew in popularity, reaching the top #20 in America.[6] After the performance of the first album, the band quickly recorded a follow-up, I'm the Man, which has been described by Jackson as "Part Two of Look Sharp!" since its release.[7]

Jackson's opinion on the album was mixed, with Jackson later claiming that I'm the Man and 2003's Volume 4 were better albums overall.[7][8] He later said on his website,

What can anyone say about something they did so long ago?! I’m not embarrassed by it, or not by most of it, anyway. It positively reeks of London 1978-79 and, well, it is what it is. I’m glad people liked it, and still like it, though I think some of that is nostalgia and a tendency to romanticise peoples’ first albums, as though later ones must somehow be less ‘authentic’. For a first album, this one’s not bad, but I was only 23 when I made it and it would be pretty weird if I didn’t think I’d done better things since.[9]

Alternate releases[edit]

Look Sharp! was re-released in 2001 with two bonus tracks, "Don't Ask Me" and "You Got the Fever" the respective b-sides of the singles "One More Time" and "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" originally released in May and July 1979.[1] In addition to the standard 12-inch vinyl release, the record was also released in a special package on two 10-inch discs that also included a Look Sharp! badge.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Joe Jackson[1]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "One More Time"   3:15
2. "Sunday Papers"   4:22
3. "Is She Really Going Out with Him?"   3:33
4. "Happy Loving Couples"   3:08
5. "Throw It Away"   2:49
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Baby Stick Around"   2:36
7. "Look Sharp!"   3:23
8. "Fools in Love"   4:23
9. "(Do the) Instant Mash"   3:12
10. "Pretty Girls"   2:55
11. "Got the Time"   2:55

Personnel[edit]

  • Joe Jackson – vocals, piano, harmonica
  • Gary Sanford – guitar
  • Graham Maby – bass
  • David Houghton – drums

Covers[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1979 UK Albums Chart[1] #40
1979 U.S. Billboard 200[1][10] #20
Year Song Chart Position
1979 "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" UK Singles Chart[1] #13
1979 "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" U.S. Billboard Hot 100[1][11] #21
1979 "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" CMJ College Radio Tracks #2
1979 "Got the Time" CMJ College Radio Tracks #11
1979 "Look Sharp!" CMJ College Radio Tracks #17
1979 "Fools in Love" CMJ College Radio Tracks #9
1979 "Sunday Papers" CMJ College Radio Tracks #20

Certifications[edit]

Organization Level Date
RIAA – U.S. Gold 11 September 1979 (1979-09-11)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 485–486. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  2. ^ Huey, Steve. Look Sharp! (Joe Jackson album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 3 December 2005.
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Joe Jackson > Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 7 March 2006. 
  4. ^ Scoppa, Bud (7 January 2004). "Joe Jackson Look Sharp! > Music Review". rollingstone.com. Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2006.  Published in a revised form as Scoppa, Bud (5 February 2004). "The Rolling Stone Hall of Fame: The Greatest Albums Ever Made: Joe Jackson Look Sharp! > Review". Rolling Stone (941). p. 62. 
  5. ^ Starr, Red (8–21 March 1979). "Albums". Smash Hits: 25. 
  6. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Joe Jackson biography". allmusic.com. 
  7. ^ a b Jackson, Joe. "I'm the Man". joejackson.com. 
  8. ^ Jackson, Joe. "Volume 4". joejackson.com. 
  9. ^ Jackson, Joe. "Look Sharp!". joejackson.com. 
  10. ^ Joe Jackson - Look Sharp! > Charts & Awards > Billboard Album at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
  11. ^ Joe Jackson - Look Sharp! > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 September 2011.