Jo Jo Zep, along with a few other Aussie bands, were a big favourite when I was in my last couple of years of high school. Not favoured enough to buy anything of theirs, mind you (couldn't have my Kiss, Cheap Trick, AC/DC and Cold Chisel friends knowing I also liked them - damn peer group pressure!) But they were regularly featured on Countdown and other Aussie rock shows at the time and also big hits at local Blue Light Discos.
The thing I liked about them was not only were they writing great, catchy, ska-tinged songs (at least for the first few big singles) but they were quality musicians and part of a larger group of Australian musicians and songwriters who were setting new standards (this does include Chisel, who had the incredilbe songwriting talents of Don Walker).
Tracks like Hit & Run, Shape I'm In and Puppet On A String were not only infectious, but great to dance to as well, back when I did actually shake my tail feather. These were like our answer to all the great British punk and ska music being made at the time but without the crap clothes and spittle.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
I just realised there's yet another way I'm like Lisa Simpson - I love the saxophone (or as her dad would say, the sax-a-ma-phone). And the sound of Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons is centred around frontman Joe Camilleri's saxophone stylings. I've seen the band, way back when in Melbourne, maybe even on a double bill with Paul Kelly and the Dots - but my memory of the early 80s is getting a bit sketchy in parts these days. (YourZ sez: must have been either 80 or 81 as the band were kaput after that).
Listening to the album (which isn't the one pictured but has most of the same songs on it) I just felt, well, 20 again. The band's sound moves from vaguely 50s doo-wop through a more rockabilly style - and my favourite song, Taxi Mary, has a real Latin beat.
I also loved Camilleri's follow-up band the Black Sorrows and listening to this CD has just made me more hungry for our household to finally bite the bullet and get a real live turntable - so I can listen to the original Zep album I had - Screaming Targets - and to the three or more Black Sorrows albums that are gathering dust.
By the way, I differ from Lisa in that I'm not an 8-year-old yellow vegetarian cartoon character with a brother and sister who likes to play the blues. Otherwise, we're pretty close.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
For more information: http://www.joecamilleri.com.au/