After realizing that 2003 would be the 25th anniversary of the recording of his debut album, "Look Sharp!," Joe Jackson says, "I picked myself up off the floor. I was so stunned." Indeed, it is hard to imagine that it was as far back as 1978 that he and the Joe Jackson Band recorded such classics as "Got the Time," "Sunday Papers," and "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"
Jackson considered reuniting bassist Graham Maby, guitarist Gary Sanford, and drummer Dave Houghton, "but I immediately dismissed the idea. I thought it would be cheesy, you know? Too nostalgic and all that. But I had about six or seven finished songs that I wasn't quite sure what to do with, and it struck me that all of them would actually work with that band."
Such was the impetus of "Volume 4," due this week from Restless/Rykodisc and featuring the same unit that recorded "Look Sharp!," "I'm the Man," and "Beat Crazy" for A&M before splitting in 1980. Highlights include such uptempo cuts as "Little Bit Stupid" and album closer "Bright Grey," which is driven by a staccato drumbeat reminiscent of "Got the Time." Other notables are the ballads "Blue Flame" and "Love at First Light," the fun blast of ska that is "Thugs Are Us," and the unabashed pop of "Take It Like a Man" and first single "Awkward Age."
The band's 18-date U.S. tour kicks off March 14 in New Orleans, culminating with a trio of April 11-13 New York shows in as many venues. "We're going to play more of the old stuff," Jackson says, "because that's what we did together originally; quite a few songs from the first three albums, that I haven't done for a long time."