This single from 1979 sneaked into the lower echelons of my 45 45s at 45 series back in 2008:-

mp3 : Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?

My love for the song is as much to do with the memories it brings back and that was the end of 4th Year at Secondary School, turning sixteen years of age and feeling you know everything there is to know about life. It’s a time when you feel of an age that you don’t want to go on holiday with your family and wee brothers and instead you want to stay at home and throw a party for all your mates. I wasn’t alone in trying to do this as it seemed there were parties every weekend in July and August 1979 at someone or others house.

The thing is….every single one of those weeks, I’d end up walking home alone frustrated at my inabilities to not get tongue-tied when trying to converse with an attractive member of the opposite sex. It didn’t help that at the age of 16 , I looked at least two years younger….while most of the guys in school looked two years older and boasted of being able to get into pubs. And they had no problems in getting girlfriends….

Aside from this being a song that perfectly captures my life at a particular point in time, I really was a fan of Joe Jackson when he burst onto the scene. His early records were infectiously catchy in many places, and his lyrics were angst-ridden enough to strike a chord. The fact he was classically-trained made a big difference in what was very much a DIY-dominated industry at the point in history. Joe looked and sounded different.

His was one of the first concerts I ever went to at an over-18s venue – it was at Glasgow Tiffany’s (long gone, but a favourite stop-off point before Barrowlands became popular round about 1984/5). Anyway, the Joe Jackson gig was in 1980 when he was touring his third LP, Beat Crazy. I went along on my own with a false ID of a friend’s big brother just in case I got stopped on the door. I needn’t have worried – the stewards (they weren’t bouncers in those days) were completely relaxed and probably had a good laugh as they watched me pace up and down outside the venue plucking up the courage to try my luck…

It was a great gig – on the same tour BBC Radio 1 recorded the London gig and broadcast it one Saturday evening – somewhere in a box I still have the C120 cassette tape I made that night – and there’s a 1980 gig by The Jam on the other side.

That tour was the end of a chapter for Joe as come the end of it he had disbanded the band that had recorded the first three of his albums. Their last gig was in Utrecht in the Netherlands on 15 December 1980, and so this was would have been the final time they played the signature tune:-

mp3 : Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him? (live, 1980)

The song however, remained a constant throughout the many tours that Joe Jackson would undertake during the 80s although to avoid getting bored with it he would arrange completely different versions making the best use of the talents of the singers and musicians in his backing band. For instance, the Night & Day Tour of 1983 saw an a capella version as recorded in Sydney on 7th May:-

mp3 : Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him? (a capella, 1983)

The following year, it was given an acoustic unplugged sort of treatment, with this version taken from a show in Melbourne on 24th July 1984:-

mp3 : Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him? (acoustic, 1984)

The three live versions are all lifted from a double live LP that was released back in 1988 and which devoted one side of vinyl to each of four tours between 1980 and 1986. It is worth noting that bass player Graham Maby sings and plays on all four of these versions.



  1. What a great post JC. I can subscribe any of your words. And this is a song that will ever be one of my all-time favorites. I saw JJ live a several times and I owned the live double lp not knowing yet which version I like most.

  2. Great song, in all versions. And thanks for mentioning the unsung but wonderful Graham Maby. I bought my first bass soon after this came out and taught myself by playing along to ‘Entertainment’ by Gang of Four and the first Ramones album. It was YEARS before I could play anything by my two bass heroes: Mr. Maby and the Attractions’ Bruce Thomas. Jackson used a wide variety of musicians over the years, but Maby was on nearly every album of his whole career, excepting some classical and soundtrack biz.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.