JOE JACKSON Big World (1986)

Big World (1986)
Joe’s 3-Sided Live Album

Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Joe Jackson was pitching his record company on a three-sided live album. Don’t forget to read Joe in Nigel Tufnel’s voice. A&M: So… you’re saying you want a double album? JOE: No… this will be a three-sided album. A&M: There’s no such thing. JOE: Sure… It’s better than a single and not as expensive as a double. It’s three sides. A&M: What goes on the 4th side? JOE: Are you daft? There is no 4th side. It’s three-sided! A&M: Joe, we’ve got someone from production on the line to explain how records are… JOE: What is wrong with you people? Don’t you get it? It’s three sides!
—- 32 minutes later —-
JOE: … and I want it to be live, but I don’t want to hear the audience, so we’ll tell them to be quiet during the show. A&M: Excuse us Joe, when does your contract come up for renewal? JOE: Not until I release what I’ve got planned already… a classical album (Will Power, 1987), another live album (Live 1980/1986, 1988), a soundtrack LP (Tucker, 1988) and a concept album (Blaze Of Glory, 1989). A&M: (long pause) How many sides did you want?

The All Music Guide calls Big World “one of the best and most overlooked records of Joe Jackson’s career.” Find it at Amazon, HERE.

Wild West (4:37)
Right and Wrong (4:35)
(It’s A) Big World (4:44)
Precious Time (3:23)
Tonight and Forever (2:31)
Shanghai Sky (5:10)
Fifty Dollar Love Affair (3:38)
We Can’t Live Together (5:25)
Forty Years (4:26)
Survival (2:19)
Soul Kiss (4:44)
The Jet Set (3:50)
Tango Atlantico (2:58)
Home Town (3:12)
Man in the Street (5:05)


  • Dave
    February 13, 2012 - 09:45 | Permalink

    This was actually the first JJ album I bought or heard all the way through (the year was 1986 and I was about to graduate HS), purchased on the strength of having heard “Right And Wrong” on the radio. It didn’t sound like anything else on the radio at the time, that’s for sure. Over the course of the next few months I gobbled up his entire ouevre.

    Sadly, that might be where my interest in JJ peaked, as subsequent releases largely failed to inspire, at least on a full album basis. Every CD has 3-4 stellar tracks but there’s a lot of self-conscious IMPORTANT SERIOUS ARTIST stuff drowning it out. The stuff that mixtapes (and now, of course, ipod playlists) were created for. But, yes, I heartily agree, this is an often-overlooked highlight in Joe’s album career.

  • robert
    February 13, 2012 - 10:33 | Permalink

    I saw Joe on this tour at Poplar Creek(a venue long-gone) in Chicago. “Right and Wrong”, “Wild West” and “Home Town” were the best with “Forty Years” being my favorite. I’ll also agree that this was Joe’s last real commercial-style venture. Thanks for posting this and all of the other interesting songs, movies and comments on your site. I always look forward to what you will have next.

  • John
    February 13, 2012 - 11:15 | Permalink

    Completely agree with you – this is a great Joe Jackson album (and I’ve had it since it was released initially.

  • Willard
    February 13, 2012 - 11:38 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • Sven DiMilo
    February 13, 2012 - 11:58 | Permalink

    Roland Kirk did it first

    • Willard
      February 13, 2012 - 12:05 | Permalink

      You gotta expect that kind of thinking from a guy who plays three horns at the same time.

    • February 14, 2012 - 18:45 | Permalink

      It’s a very different album, but The Three Sided Dream in Audio Color sure got a lot of play in my apartment late at night.

  • February 13, 2012 - 13:10 | Permalink

    I think Johnny Winter did the first 3 sided album (Second Winter)…of Jackson’s 3 sided wonder, I remember reading that they recorded it direct to a vinyl pressing they way they used to cut records (or something along those lines).

  • Mal
    February 13, 2012 - 13:29 | Permalink

    JP, you are not far off the mark, Jackson pre-mixed, so when the gig was recorded, it went straight to DAT (or whatever they used in those days) so it was a true digital recordingwith nothing added or taken away. The audience was asked not to applaud untill after the songs had finished.

  • Todd
    February 13, 2012 - 20:17 | Permalink

    Yeah it was tough to be a JJ fan after Big World.. He followed it up with the instrumental, semi classical Will Power (which I grew to like) and the Tucker Soundtrack. But you missed a full on classic if you never made it to Blaze of Glory – My personal favorite.

  • Winking Tiger
    February 13, 2012 - 20:35 | Permalink

    I think this is his best album, and I’m a huge fan…

  • Lord Hearteater
    February 13, 2012 - 20:58 | Permalink

    Brilliant artist, great album, wonderful show. I caught the Big World Tour at the UniAmp in LA, and the t-shirt still hangs in my closet. “Laughter and Lust” was his next great album after “Big World,” in my estimation, although “Blaze” was certainly great, as well. I caught the Blaze of Glory Tour at the iconic Wiltern Theater -in which I had seen movies, as a boy, in LA. Sadly, “Laughter and Lust” did not make it to Phoenix, where I had relocated at the time. JJ does not seem to like Arizona much, but I did catch the Volume 4 Tour in a 1500-seat venue, the night before “Afterlife” was recorded. I knew every lyric, except for the then-new “Citizen Sane,” which he treated us to. His most recent album, “Rain,” is magnificent. One song, “Rush Across the Road,” to me, is what Mozart’s work would sound like, if he were around today, and writing in a modern idiom.

  • Ricky Roche
    February 13, 2012 - 21:00 | Permalink

    This is indeed a great album. I was at Radio City Music Hall for the live stop on this tour. However, I strongly disagree that it was JJ’s last good album. Laughter & Lust, night and Day II, Night Music, Vol 4, Heaven & Hell- all great music. Even his last studio work, Rain, had more than its share of above average tunes.

  • MVP
    February 13, 2012 - 21:11 | Permalink

    I wish they would re-release the video from this album on DVD – I think it only ever came out on VHS.

  • February 13, 2012 - 21:24 | Permalink

    I love this album. By the way, this entry’s been posted as a link on Facebook by the Joe Jackson Band Facebook account. Just so you know.

  • Sean
    February 14, 2012 - 01:32 | Permalink

    Without a doubt, his best record. I have ’em all and many are very good…
    @MVP It is out on DVD. I have it!

  • Willard
    February 14, 2012 - 11:43 | Permalink

    Wow… I didn’t realize this album was so loved. Thanks for all the comments and interaction.

  • Johnny Kinkdom
    February 14, 2012 - 14:05 | Permalink

    I attended the rehearsal performance at the Roundabout Theater as a guest of one of the crew doing the video. The requests to be a silent audience were not as annoying as they might sound from the previous comments. This was the 3rd time I had seen Joe and this one was certainly the most interesting. The band was really tight, even though it was a rehearsal. From what I remember “Man In The Street” was the only performance used from the rehearsal takes. This album remains one of my favorites because of that sneak peek.

  • Jim
    February 14, 2012 - 18:06 | Permalink

    I saw a pre-recording show in Philadelphia at a club called Pulsations. It was an amazing show and the band was really tight. Jackson explained exactly what he was expecting from us. The audience was asked to be quiet during the new songs so that they could determine the necessary levels to premix the songs and they could be properly recorded. After they had run through all the new songs, he did another set of hits and other favorites.

  • Lawrence
    February 16, 2012 - 07:31 | Permalink

    Dear Willard, Thanks for this great post. And belated thanks for posting links to the Latin Playboys (stream) and the Zappa “cover” bands. best Lawrence

  • Lawrence
    February 16, 2012 - 07:32 | Permalink

    oh p.s.
    And the Alan Price O’ Luck Man recordings; much appreciated!

  • rap
    February 17, 2012 - 21:54 | Permalink

    Great album but fyi, A&M was always very supportive of Joe, so nothing close to the humorous invented dialog happened. Besides, all the music fit nicely on a single CD, W.

    Regardless, great share!

  • Randy
    April 26, 2012 - 22:31 | Permalink

    This album fell within a series of classic JJ releases – Night & Day, Mike’s Murder (soundtrack), Body and Soul, Big World and Blaze of Glory (omitting the orchestral Will Power). I agree subsequent albums were spotty but still offered gems for those willing to stick it out (i.e. “The Man Who Wrote Danny Boy” from Night Music). Anyone who hasn’t heard these albums owe it to themselves to give them a listen. Strong writing, playing, vocals and arrangements.

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