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Joe Jackson

Night and Day II

  • Sony Classical

There's danger in trying to duplicate one's best work, and Joe Jackson has taken a big risk by crafting a sequel to his jazz-tinged 1982 classic Night and Day. Yet the songwriter manages to pull it off splendidly here on Night and Day II, evoking the spirit of the original without ever sounding redundant.

More classically flavored than its predecessor, the recording is lifted by artful arrangements, a string quartet named Ethel, as well as guest appearances from the likes Iranian singer Sussan Deyhim (“Why”) and even weathered songstress Marianne Faithfull, who turns in a duet with Jackson on the ballad “Love Got Lost.”

This isn't one that will likely dazzle a listener the first time through, but give it time. Several cuts, particularly Jackson's humorous portrait of New York characters, “Stranger Than You,” his falsetto-graced “Glamour and Pain,” (complete with musical references to “Steppin' Out,”) and his percussive, late night character study of a survivor of a 1991 New York night club fire (“Happyland”) rank with some of his finest compositions.

Kevin O'Hare