Monday, 7 January 2019

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - Better Days (1991)


Released October 1991

After an eighties that saw the release of some decidedly undercooked, unremarkable albums, Southside Johnny reunited with producer/songwriter Steven Van Zandt in an attempt to try and recreate the feeling of the three classic albums released in the late seventies. It was a homage to late seventies, horn-powered Asbury Parkism and was a great success. It is a rousing, punchy album and is highly enjoyable.


1. Coming Back
2. All I Needed Was You
3. It's Been A Long Time
4. Soul's On Fire
5. Better Days
6. I've Been Working Too Hard
7. Ride The Night Away
8. Right To Walk Away
9. All Night Long
10. All The Way Home
11. Shake 'Em Down                                      

"Coming Back", from its first horn notes is a wonderful introduction to this superb album that revisits that great late seventies Asbury Park sound. The horns blare out and Southside's gruff but soulful voice soars above them. Van Zandt's "All I Needed Was You" is a delight, full of Stax-ish horns and a killer vocal and chorus. A truly magnificent song. Southside is joined by old mates Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen on the shamelessly nostalgic "It's Been A Long Time". "Soul's On Fire" is a brooding slice of soul/rock balladry and the title track is bluesy and upbeat, with more killer brass parts.

"I've Been Working So Hard" sees Southside rocking it up in a classic piece of rock 'n roll blues. "Ride The Night Away" has a great chorus and "Right To Walk Away" is a classic Southside ballad. "All Night Long" brings back those huge horns before we are treated to Bruce Springsteen's excellent slow number, "All The Way Home". He recorded it himself on his "Devils And Dust" album in a fast style which simply cannot hold a candle to Southside's beautifully romantic, Mink De Ville-style version of it. "Shake 'Em Down" ends the album with a muscular rocker. This has been a most enjoyable and welcome comeback from a highly-respected band.


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