Monday, 7 January 2019

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - Hearts Of Stone (1978)


  

Released October 1978

This is a wonderful album for all fans of Asbury Park, horn-driven rock 'n' roll from the late seventies. It contains two excellent Bruce Springsteen songs, five from E. Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt and one collaboration between the two and Southside Johny yon himself. The music is energetic, vibrant and romantic, with a Motown punch and rock 'n' roll vigour. For me, it is the best album Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes recorded.

TRACK LISTING

1. Got To Be a Better Way Home
2. This Time Baby's Gone For Good
3. I Played The Fool
4. Hearts of Stone
5. Take It Inside
6. Talk To Me
7. Next To You
8. Trapped Again
9. Light Don't Shine

"Got To Be A Better Way Home" begins with a frantic drum intro, before guitars, keyboards and finally those huge, kicking horns arrive to herald in Southside's bourbon and axle grease blues rock voice. It is a great start to the album. Then it is time for some copper-bottomed Asbury Park romance in the Drifters-esque "This Time Baby's Gone For Good", with its uplifting, punchy and soaring brass sections. This is late seventies Asbury Park Heaven. Van Zandt's "I Played The Fool" has a great Motown-influenced intro and, once again, a superb horn section-backed  chorus.

Springsteen's yearning, dramatic "Hearts Of Stone" is sublime, Southside's version is actually better the The Boss's own cut of the track. It is the definitive version. "Take It Inside" starts with some searing guitar riffage and a great rock vocal from Southside. The horns, of course, are wonderful. The Boss is back on writing contribution on the catchy, singalong "Talk To Me", which really should have been a huge hit single. Why it wasn't is a mystery. It is a truly great, energetic, soulful track.

"Next To You" is a classic Van Zandt heartbreaker with more sumptuous hornage, and "Trapped Again" is a slightly funky piece of rock/soul with another killer chorus and infectious guitar and keyboard intro. Finally, Van Zandt's "Light Don't Shine" is a romantic tearjerker to end what has been a truly enjoyable album. Highly recommended. I never tire of this album, even forty years later.

B+

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