Back to New York for "Night and Day II"
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  “It occurred to me, because it’s the kind of stupid thing people say,” Jackson replies with a laugh. “I thought it was appropriate, and it works for me, and I think I am entitled. It’s my music. I think I’m allowed to quote myself. It’s not as if I’ve done 20 albums that are all the same. I have never quoted myself before, but I think it’s really appropriate musically and thematically, and because I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and if I want to quote myself, I’m allowed.”

Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson (click for larger image)

The idea for the “spin-off” project didn’t come to Jackson until he was ensconcsed in the creating of this current record. “It started to evolve very loosely as a project about New York City, because I’ve been here for quite a long time, and I had so many observations of characters and situations that I wanted to write about. It’s been building up in the back of my mind, I suppose. Usually, if there is an overall concept to an album I do, it takes shape as I go along. I don’t really start off with a concept. It was the same thing with Heaven and Hell. It started with certain ideas and then grew. Somewhere along the line, I start to see the shape of it more, and that starts to influence how I work. In this case, once I had two or three of the songs written, I started to think of it as 24 hours in New York City from the point of view of several different characters. The idea of calling it Night and Day II really came a lot later. In fact, I wasn’t sure it was a great idea, to be honest. The title sets me up for comparisons that may or may not be helpful.

“Night and Day really wasn’t a concept album about New York at all, and Night and Day II is much more so. The first one was the first record I made in New York, and it does have quite a lot of New York flavor but from the point of view of someone who was still relatively new to the city, whereas Night and Day II is obviously someone jaded and cynical,” he says. “I’m kidding, of course. I would hate people to think that was the main thrust of it, because I think it has a lot of humor and other stuff going on. I think it has a lot of different levels to it. It’s more of a nuanced, mature perspective.”

He can’t recall how it came to him to re-use the “Steppin’ Out” bell part, except to note that it has come to define a piece of the New York City vibe. “I like bright, tinkly sounds,” Jackson ponders. “I know when I was writing it I was thinking of the city skyline at night and lots of lights, and I think all those chiming kinds of piano chords and bells conjure up those lights.”

The new album, which was recorded to Sony 3348 at Avatar Studios and mixed on the SSL Axiom MT in their “D” room, opens with an interesting juxtaposition of classical cello and Latin rhythms that both mesh and conflict simultaneously. “I guess if I wanted to analyze myself, it would probably say something about the energy and excitement of the city, as well as a note of lyricism and melancholy, which is all mixed up,” Jackson comments.

For Dan Gellert, engineer and associate producer, one of the greatest challenges—and loves—in Jackson’s music is the combining of such different worlds: the acoustic instrumentation with the programmed synth parts, and the meshing of the sonic properties that involves.


Reprinted with permission from Magazine, November, 2000
2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved

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