The Second Disc

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Reissue Theory: Joe Jackson, “Live in Tokyo: The Big World Tour”

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Joe Jackson Live in TokyoWelcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on classic musical works and the reissues they could someday see. Today, Mike reflects on one of British rock’s angriest young men all grown up, and the one weird aspect of the catalogue market that has yet to be greatly exploited.

Like many of you, I’ve had an angry young man phase. You know the feelings, I’m sure. You’re a bundle of emotions and everything is just super-serious. You’re insecure but maddeningly self-assured – convinced of how cooler you are than the next hunk that walks down the street. (Some who know me might say this phase isn’t exactly over, but that’s neither here nor there.)

It’s this identification that draws us to music that evokes these feelings and spirits with exacting detail – acts like Elvis Costello or Billy Joel (who wrote a song called “Angry Young Man”) or The Knack or Cheap Trick or Ben Folds Five or – you guessed it – Joe Jackson, who kind of brilliantly crystallized and mainstreamed the typical angry young man formula in the 1970s and 1980s. After several albums of hard-charging pop/rock/New Wave (1979’s one-two punch Look Sharp! and I’m the Man, 1980’s Beat Crazy), the Royal Academy of Music-trained Jackson shifted gears toward straight jazz and jazz-pop with Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive (1981), Night and Day (1982) and Body and Soul (1984). Jackson also began his earliest dabbling in soundtracks (Mike’s Murder (1983) and Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)) and classical composition (Will Power (1987)), prefacing the eventual directions his career would take.

But it was a killer time. Jackson, you may have forgotten, was better represented on the charts than most of his fellow British angry young men; “Is She Really Going Out with Him?,” “Steppin’ Out,” “Breaking Us in Two” and “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)” were all Top 40 hits in America, with “Steppin’ Out” even garnering a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. And before he crossed over into more esoteric material, Jackson did in fact give one of the best audio documents of his pop evolution: the double-album Live 1980/86, featuring four sides devoted to all his major tours at that time: Beat Crazy and The Joe Jackson Band (guitarist Gary Sanford, bassist Graham Maby and drummer David Haughton); the expanded lite-jazz ensemble from the Night and Day Tour; the full-brass orchestra of the Body and Soul Tour and a new, stripped down rock combo to promote Big World, a 1986 album of new material recorded in front of a silent live audience.

After the jump, keep reading about what made the Big World tour so exciting, and what that could mean for a catalogue title!

Big World was an overlooked link between the rip-roaring rocker Jackson started out as and the serious songwriter he would become, and the tour did a really good job of reflecting that. What mainstream audiences heard on Live 1980/86, six of his biggest singles recorded mostly at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan, was pretty brilliant. Rock songs like “Breaking Us in Two” and “It’s Different for Girls” were given a more reflective, acoustic edge; elsewhere, “You Can’t Get What You Want” was stripped of its brass hooks for what may be the best, punchiest version of the tune on record, and “Steppin’ Out” (recorded at a live date in Vancouver) was given a dramatic, piano-and-vocal reading that nearly lacked the famous chorus but wasn’t hurting for power.

The Big World Tour experience ended up running a little deeper than what fans got from the other sides of Live 1980/86: alongside the album, A&M released a videotape featuring one of Joe’s sets from Tokyo, featuring the same energy and performance style from the fourth side of the live LP applied to tracks from Big World and elsewhere. The near two-hour set on Live in Tokyo was belatedly released to DVD in 2002, but is long out-of-print.

A killer catalogue title for Joe Jackson – who’s seen most of his core discography reissued and remastered (with extra tracks on Look Sharp! and I’m the Man and a whole bonus disc for Night and Day, featuring the respective side from Live 1980/86) – would be a 2CD/DVD remastered release of this feature, perhaps one of his most energetic tours ever. It also begs the question: how many other live/vintage videos can you think of that have yet to enter the digital domain? Bon Jovi’s deluxe New Jersey features a rather impressive amount of hard-to-find video content in its contents; surely other artists, whether obvious or not, could be added to this theoretical list. Why not sound off in the comments below?

What do you think of Joe Jackson’s Live in Tokyo: The Big World Tour? Would this be something you’d buy? What angry young live acts are you fond of?

Joe Jackson Live in Tokyo: The Big World Tour (A&M/UMe – video released as Live in Tokyo – A&M/PolyGram 089 840-3, 1988)

  1. One More Time
  2. Wild West
  3. Right and Wrong
  4. You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)
  5. (It’s a) Big World
  6. Home Town
  7. On Your Radio
  8. Shanghai Sky
  9. Fifty Dollar Love Affair
  10. Cancer
  11. Be My Number Two/Breaking Us in Two
  12. Steppin’ Out
  13. Survival
  14. Soul Kiss
  15. It’s Different for Girls *
  16. The Jet Set
  17. Monday (Sunday) Papers
  18. Tonight and Forever
  19. Medley: Jack, You’re Dead/What’s the Use of Getting Sober (When You’re Gonna Get Drunk Again)/Jumpin’ Jive *
  20. I’m the Man
  21. Man in the Street

Recorded live at the Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – 10/20/1986
* released on Live 1980/86 (A&M SP-06706, 1988)

Written by Mike Duquette

July 7, 2014 at 13:36

Posted in DVD, Features, Joe Jackson, Reissues

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20 Responses

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  1. This was a cool video and it would be great to have it on DVD/CD combo! I’d buy it for sure.

    James Gooch

    July 7, 2014 at 13:45

  2. I wish this DVD would be reissued. I nearly wore out the VHS in my Joe/angry young man phase, and neglected to purchase it when it was briefly available on DVD.

    Jeremy Holiday

    July 7, 2014 at 13:56

  3. Incidental;ly, my VHS has a different cover than what you show above

    Jeremy Holiday

    July 7, 2014 at 13:56

  4. Love the double-live album and the Live In Tokyo video, and would be very happy to have them and more JJ content on DVD or Blu-ray. If that comes to pass, I hope “Laughter And Lust Live” video is included, although I believe that was on Virgin so there might be label issues preventing that from happening.

    The bottom line is that the world needs more Joe Jackson material, especially from his “classic” era. “Big World” remains my favorite of his albums, with 5 or 6 others tied for a close second place.

    • Can’t wait for your JJ series!!!!


      July 8, 2014 at 03:35

      • Thanks. I would love to write a Joe Jackson series but I usually focus on the lesser-played artists & albums in my collection and JJ has been one of my favorite artists for nearly 35 years. I know most of his music really well. Of course, it’s my blog so I can change the rules whenever I want, so stay tuned…

  5. I would buy a properly remastered “Big World” and a Blu-ray of just about an quality JJ performance. Count me in. A “Tucker” remaster, or for that matter any other title would be welcome as well. If the powers that be want more or my $$ then just give us more JJ,

    Ed Hilston

    July 7, 2014 at 16:19

  6. Time to think BIG. How about a Super Deluxe box set reissue of Live 1980/1986? Expand the release to 4CDs, with separate discs devoted to each of the four tours. Throw in the Live in Tokyo set on DVD (or Blu-Ray) and a bonus DVD compiling pro shot footage from the earlier tours.

    David Olstein

    July 7, 2014 at 19:18

  7. First off, thanks for the very well-written article on Joe Jackson. There was a time when I was a Joe Jackson fanatic, and if that means anything, I think you did a great job. It also means that I have all the material you mentioned, BUT what we’re all lacking is the Big World Sessions on DVD. THAT, in my opinion, would make a box worth buying (I have a DVD copy ripped from my VHS copy). I also wish they’d release the remaining “Mike’s Murder” tracks on CD, but that’s probably a different package.

    Paul Blubaugh

    July 7, 2014 at 20:20

  8. I love the 80/86 live album. So hell yeah, I would like this too. Especially audio CDs or Vinyl. DVDs I never watch. I own a bunch, but never watch.

    Geoff Hoover

    July 7, 2014 at 20:34

  9. “… how many other live/vintage videos can you think of that have yet to enter the digital domain?”

    Plenty. Billy Joel Live From Long Island, not to mention Billy’s 1984 Wembley show that was televised live by the BBC but never shown in the States, Dylan and Petty’s “Hard to Handle” concert video, the Beatles at Shea (and, of course, Let It Be), and lots more.


    July 7, 2014 at 21:41

    • BJ’s Wembley and an official Let It Be should be out already. Those are two of my big fantasy deluxe edition sets!!


      July 8, 2014 at 03:36

  10. Indeed, there are tons of old concerts on VHS that still need to be remastered for DVD/Blu-Ray. Just off the top off my head:

    Fleetwood Mac; Tusk & Mirage tours
    Eurythmics: Australia 1987
    The Tubes: Completion Backward Video & Live at the Greek Theatre 1979
    The Who: Farewell (lol) tour, Toronto 1982
    David Gilmour: About Face tour
    Elton John: Live with the Melbourne Symphony
    Kate Bush: Hammersmith Odeon 1979 (Wouldn’t this be a perfect time to reissue this one???)
    Warren Zevon: Capitol Theatre Passaic, NJ (Although I read that Warren left instructions to never reissue this…..too bad, I think it’s awesome.)
    Split Enz: Time & Tide concert Canada 1982

    …and I’m sure there are dozens of others that I’ll think of the second I post this!


    July 7, 2014 at 22:21

  11. Filmed, but never released on any format as far as I know: WHam! The Final. 2016 will be 30 years, so perhaps a deluxe DVD / CD reissue would be a nice thing…


    July 8, 2014 at 05:15

  12. Prince and the Lovesexy tour, which was released across 2 VHS tapes. I watched it live on Channel 4 in the UK and it was the rudest, funkiest thing I ever saw or heard.
    I was watching the current Sounds of The 80’s TV show on BBC3 the other night, and instead of the well remembered video for Criticize by Alexander O’Neal, they showed him singing the song live at what looked like Wembley Arena. Wouldn’t mind a whole concert of that too.

    Gary C

    July 8, 2014 at 08:48

  13. Elton John in Central Park in it’s entirety, featuring his famous Donald Duck suit. Much of this is on YouTube in bits & pieces, and a one hour version was shown on TV (HBO?) and on VHS/Beta.

    mark schlesinger

    July 8, 2014 at 12:31

  14. Also how about the “Supershow” TV special from the early ’70s, with rock stars like Carlos Santana and Stephen Stills collaborating with bluesmen like Buddy Guy and jazz legends such as Roland Kirk. Also maybe a box set from NBC’s live music show from the same era.

    mark schlesinger

    July 8, 2014 at 12:37

  15. Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour which was only released on laserdisc. Her Re-invention Tour also remains in the vaults.

    Joe Jackson is so talented and his discography deserves better treatment. I paid a fortune for the Ultimate Collection (3-CD) set which features the original Mike’s Murder soundtrack, but well worth the money. His DVD compilation of videos is now out of print as is the deluxe edition of Night and Day.


    July 8, 2014 at 12:47

  16. Well written and well deserved for consideration! I am a JJ fan across the board and would certainly welcome this and any other re-visits that could become available. Whatever happened to DB Cooper?


    July 14, 2014 at 09:39

  17. Excellent piece. I’ve been mostly a fan of JJ’s first two albums, but this post begs the need for further exploration!

    Jim Kaz

    July 18, 2014 at 12:44

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