Big World

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Big World
Big World cover.jpg
Live album by Joe Jackson
Released March 1986[1]
Recorded 22 January 1986—25 January 1986, at the Roundabout Theatre, New York City
Genre Pop rock
Length 60:27
Label A&M
Producer David Kershenbaum
Joe Jackson chronology
Body and Soul
Big World
Will Power
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]

Big World is a 1986 live album of original songs by Joe Jackson.[1] The album was recorded in front of an invited audience at the Roundabout Theatre in New York City on 22–25 January 1986. The songs are loosely linked by lyrics covering a general theme of post-World War II international relations and global travel.


Jackson's intent for the recording was to capture the intensity and spontaneity of a live performance, but without the distraction of noise from the crowd. He requested that the audience remain silent while his performance was recorded, so applauses are heard only at the end of the songs. In the manner of a remote broadcast, the music was mixed live from microphones on each musical instrument, and sent directly to a stereo digital tape recorder. Unlike most remote recordings, no post-recording mixing or overdubbing was performed. The individual tracks were selected from performances on various nights.

Regarding the production, Joe says: ‘I want to clear up two myths about this record which still crop up all the time. Myth 1: During the live recording of the album, the audience was forbidden to applaud. Fact: There was plenty of applause. We were just playing a lot of unfamiliar material, and recording it for an album, so the audience were asked to hold it until they were sure a song was finished. They understood this and there was no problem. Myth 2: It’s a double album with a side missing. Fact: This was my first album to be released on CD, where the running time was not an issue. I was having a hard time deciding what to leave out for the LP, though, and I suggested making a 3-sided one, and selling it for the price of a regular album. Much to my surprise, the record company said yes. So rather than a side missing, you got an extra side. Critics, of course, hadn’t had to pay for it.’[3]


The LP release was a double album, but only three sides had music. The unrecorded fourth side's label stated "there is no music on this side", and the record had a groove that quickly led to the inner so no damage could be done to the stylus if accidentally placed on the turntable with that side up.[1] The CD release contained the same 15 tracks on one disc.

The front cover of the album features the phrase "Big World" in French, Persian, Mandarin Chinese, Greek, Dutch, Korean, Thai, Russian, Irish Gaelic, Armenian, Hindi, Hebrew, Indonesian, Arabic, and Polish. The back cover features the same phrase in Vietnamese, Swedish, Swiss German, Turkish, Spanish, Swahili, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Welsh, and Hungarian.

The album included an eight-page booklet which included the lyrics to all fifteen songs and recording information in English, German, Japanese, French, Italian and Spanish.

Track listing[edit]

(NB. The track sequence differed between the LP and cassette releases). All songs composed by Joe Jackson.

Side One

  1. "Wild West" – 4:37
  2. "Right and Wrong" – 4:35
  3. "(It's A) Big World" – 4:44
  4. "Precious Time" – 3:23
  5. "Tonight and Forever" – 2:31

Side Two

  1. "Shanghai Sky" – 5:10
  2. "Fifty Dollar Love Affair" – 3:38
  3. "We Can't Live Together" – 5:25
  4. "Forty Years" – 4:26

Side Three

  1. "Survival" – 2:19
  2. "Soul Kiss" – 4:44
  3. "The Jet Set" – 3:50
  4. "Tango Atlantico" – 2:58
  5. "Home Town" – 3:12
  6. "Man in the Street" – 5:05



  • Joe Jackson - Vocals, piano, recorder, accordion, melodica
  • Vinnie Zummo - Guitars, vocals
  • Rick Ford - Bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
  • Gary Burke - Drums
  • Joy Askew, Nikki Gregeroff, Peter Hewlett, Curtis King, Jr. - Extra backup vocals


  • Produced by Dave Kershenbaum and Joe Jackson
  • Michael Frondelli - recording engineer
  • Recorded at the Roundabout Theatre, East 17th Street, New York City
  • 23, 24 and 25 January 1986 (except "Man in the Street", recorded during rehearsals on 22 January)
  • Remote recording facility - Lemobile
  • Guy Charbonneau - remote recording technician
  • Dave Roberts - onstage technician
  • Dave Hewitt - remote recording production coordinator
  • Eddie Ciletti - digital tape technician
  • Jim Flynn (Martin Audio) - recording equipment rental
  • Coordinated by Joy Askew


UK Albums Chart[4] U.S. Billboard 200 Chart[5]


  1. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 485–486. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 274. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ "Allmusic ((( Joe Jackson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". 

External links[edit]