After nearly a decade of focusing on art song and instrumental music, Joe Jackson signaled his return to the pop/rock realm by titling his 2000 studio album Night and Day II, recalling his biggest commercial hit, 1982's Night and Day. He toured to promote the new collection, but since his record label, Sony Classical, had released Summer in the City: Live in New York several months before Night and Day II, in record company terms, he wasn't due for another live album. Nevertheless, if only to counter bootleggers, in January 2002 he released Two Rainy Nights: Live in the Northwest -- The Official Bootleg on his own Great Big Island label exclusively through his Web site, www.joejackson.com. Leading a seven-piece band consisting of keyboards, two strings (violin and cello), bass, percussion, and drums, Jackson performed five songs from Night and Day II, along with a selection of material dating back to his 1979 debut Look Sharp! "Is She Really Going Out with Him" and "You Can't Get What You Want 'Til You Know What You Want" were included, but this was not a greatest-hits set, by any means. The older songs were rearranged to fit the instrumentation, giving the music a consistency despite the range of the selections across Jackson's career. And the selection of album tracks like "Got the Time" from Look Sharp! and "Target" from Night and Day emphasized the depth of those collections beyond the hits. "Home Town," a bittersweet nostalgic ballad from Big World that Jackson described as "sentimental", and a non-charting single in 1986, still sounded like one of his best compositions. The album might be unnecessary for all but Jackson fans, but it chronicled a typically impressive touring band playing excellent material before enthusiastic audiences.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann