In the early 1960s, the raucous nature of rock ‘n roll had been subdued - until the British Invasion saw the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who and the Kinks pump new life back into popular music.
By the late ‘60s when psychedelia had turned it stupid again, acts like Bob Dylan and critically the Band pulled rock back to a more thoughtful, roots oriented vision.
By the mid-70s, the cycle had repeated. The Who were doing bloated stage shows and had drifted far from the raw energy that animated songs like My Generation, Can’t Explain and Magic Bus.
And then disco happened.
The anger that disco engendered is hard to explain but music once again had sort of a primal therapy with punk (as an example of how things had changed, a mob of punks attacked Moon’s limo at a club. Panicked, he took off, tragically running over and killing his chauffeur).
Punk was a bit much for a lot of people but a more accessible music arose that was generally called New Wave. Acts like the Cars, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson emerged.
Costello evolved from an angry young man act to an accomplished and subtle musician. And Jackson showed that he was a talented composer and arranger. His New Wave stage was only part of his career.
Yet his album Look Sharp captured the era as well as any other than perhaps Costello’s My Aim Is True. And on Look Sharp, Is She Really Going Out With Him? may have been the finest song of that era.
But restless, like Costello, he later reworked the song into something completely different. Check it out.