Next Up: "Steppin' Out"

Fri Apr 23, 10:28 AM

The latest cover we’re releasing in Smallpox’ Covers Album project is “Steppin’ Out,” originally recorded by Joe Jackson and released on his Night and Day album in 1982. Listen to it here.

For me (this is Al from Dromedary writing), Joe Jackson circa-1979 was an introduction to a whole world of new sounds. Thing is, they were punk sounds in 1979 – snotty, aggressive, and yes, mainstream – but they opened doors to a whole new place for me. I’m the Man was an absolutely critical record in my own development. The music was aggressive, the subject matter literate and interesting, and man, the hooks. And next came a record that turned me on to reggae, and a Jimmy Cliff cover. Amazing. These were life-changing albums for me.

Next, though? Next was a big band record, Jumpin’ Jive. Young me just figured it was a novelty thing, like a Joe Jackson’s covers record, or Bing Crosby doing a duet with David Bowie, or like the Kiss solo albums – not something to be taken seriously.

When “Steppin’ Out” came out, though, that was it for me. My own tastes had gotten angrier and louder; at that point I was listening mostly to metal. My intro to angry rock had sold out. Joe Jackson was playing elevator jazz, and I most certainly was not buying in.

It was only years later, when discovering the unbelievable musicianship of Joe Jackson’s band (particularly Graham Maby’s amazing bass work) that I took time to revisit those later Joe Jackson records, with fresh, more mature ears. Unfortunately, I still hate them.

Still, Dan Smith is one of my favorite bass players, and so is Graham Maby, so when I saw “Steppin’ Out” listed among the covers that Smallpox would be releasing with this project, I gave it another set of fresh ears, and found Dan tearing the song apart, layering it with heavy guitar and a driving beat, only a tiny hint of Maby’s signature bass line remaining from the original. Not a bad song for rolling down the windows and barreling down some highway somewhere, if I may suggest a weekend activity.

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