Overlooked Gems


House cleaned, 98 degrees outside, girls busy with whatever, big ‘ol frosty Margarita in my hand…time for some tunes. Put the iPod on shuffle mode. 13,575 songs; some terrible, some magnificent, some revelatory. Revelatory because I’ve forgotten how brilliant they are. Time does wonderful and wacky things to one’s perception, eh?

The tequila doesn’t hurt either, I’m sure, although I’ve only had one large chilled, frosty, delicious plastic mug full thus far. But I make ‘em strong I does, and after an hour or two I am confident the Soup Dragons will sound like the aural equivalent of God Himself. Better get this post completed fast, then.

So who or what album is in need of artistic redemption then? Let’s take a look at just a couple…

Joe Jackson’s “Night and Day”: Unfairly overshadowed by similar “angry young man” Elvis Costello (both are the same age, born mere months apart), Jackson released 5 classic albums starting with 1979’s Look Sharp! before fatigue got the best of him…for a while, anyway. But in 1982, as all music.com says, the “punks got class”, and Joe Jackson released a genre exercise in New York Latino cool entitled Night and Day. One look at the cover and you know what’s coming. Jazzy horns, big-city synthesizer cool and, of course, Jackson’s ever present Steinway, here a little more refined and a little less spazy. Predating the cocktail swinger craze by almost a decade (a case of perfect musical evolution if I ever heard one, given the prior year’s Jumpin’ Jive’) Night and Day can still dazzle. He was booed off the stage a couple of times supporting the Who who were touring the abysmal “It’s Hard” that year, but forget all that. Pour yourself a Gin Martini, with three extra large olives, relax and be transported to a sophisticated place where fishbowls are full of room keys and Esquivel is considered a God!

Blue Peter’s “Falling”: A Canadian obscurity, Blue Peter started as a new wave-ish power pop band with visions of becoming the next Roxy Music, but they only came close to that goal on 1983’s “Falling”. I’m biased, as I almost always am, because Blue Peter was the first band I ever saw live, opening for another obscure new wave Canadian outfit called the Spoons (whose “Nova Heart” still gets my toes a tappin’!), in a defrosted ice rink in London, Ontario. They were brilliant, and the tracks from this album have stayed with me for over 30 years. The title track, Don’t Walk Past and All Your Time are the standouts, but thanks to the ultra slick production of Steve Nye the entire album is wonderful from top to bottom. Other prettier and certainly less talented new wave bands of the era shifted more units, but Blue Peter deserves a place in your record collection.