"We really all do come from working-class backgrounds. It’s not something you forget. Even if you make hundreds of millions of dollars like Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi, you don’t forget what it’s like to work. I’ve been working since I was 15. And I kept my day job right up until the time we made our first album" - John Lyon
This is the second in the three classic Steve Van Zandt-Bruce Springsteen-influenced albums from Southside Johnny and his magnificent brass-dominated backing group, The Asbury Jukes. Despite being recently remastered, it still suffers from a very muddy sound, particularly on the drums, and the remastering has not really corrected this, unfortunately. There is still some good material on the album.
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 Johnny 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.
After three superb albums featuring songs by Steven Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny changed record labels from Epic to Mercury and let various band members, particularly guitarist Billy Rush, write the songs. Although not as strong as those previous classic albums, the result was actually a good album as it happens, with a lot of the romantic, horn-powered classic Asbury Park sound of those first three albums still present here. I always really liked this album.
Living In The Real World is an energetic and melodic number with great saxophone and a singalong chorus. Check out that wonderful sax intro, then Southside's yearning, charismatic vocal. I loved this back in 1980 and I still do. Your Reply has a bass line to die for, that I had forgotten about and some killer guitar too. At the time I didn't pay this track much attention, now I appreciate its bluesy thump a lot more. The Time has another good bass line and some jazzy saxophone. Southside's vocal is jazzily confident and a bit like that he used to such great effect on 1976's The Fever. I Remember Last Night is an irrespressibly strident corker of a rocker, while Wait In Vain is a classic soulful Southside ballad. Vertigo is a guitar-driven, quirky rocker. This album was a lot better than many expected it to be without Van Zandt's input. Well worth a listen.
More synthesiser and programmed drums introduce My Baby's Touch, which has a soulful vocal from Southside but it is pretty lost beneath all the keyboards and electronic backing. The Beast Within has an ABBA-style classical-influenced intro before it goes all Queen on Hot Space. It is pretty much a nadir in Southside's long, otherwise distinguished career. Ain't Gonna Eat My Heart Out Anymore goes a bit heavy rock at times but it still pretty poor. Slow Burn is lifted out of the murk by a solid vocal from Southside, a punchy beat and some much-needed, badly-missed saxophone. Along with the title track, it is one of the album's better efforts. Ms. Park Avenue has some chunky guitar riffs, but is still blighted by the dominant synthesiser backing.
Thankfully, the closer, the romantic and soulful Bedtime reminds us what Southside Johnny was all about, and, despite the easy listening laid-back backing, has a typical, yearning Southside vocal. I recall at the time thinking "at last, thank goodness for that". Overall, however, this album was an unfortunate experiment best left in the vaults.
This is ostensibly a Southside Johnny "solo" album that sees his him taken away from The Asbury Jukes and given a synthesised, polished programmed drums production. However, there are various Jukes members appearing on the album, and yes, although the sound is very eighties in its programmed nature, the album has its good points and is certainly superior to the previous three albums Southside did with The Jukes (Trash It Up, In The Heat and At Least We Got Shoes), all of which were patchy, to say the least, as I have mentioned earlier.
It is pretty difficult to get hold of this album these days, and, although it is not something that you should fork out lots of money for, if you can get hold of it cheaply, it is a good listen every now and again. Despite its eighties production and slight dated feel, you can never block your ears to Southside's voice.
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.
This impressive and enjoyable album, from 2000, sees New Jersey's Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes returning to their blues roots to produce an excellent album of copper-bottomed blues songs such as the stomping Gin-Soaked Boy, Living With The Blues and the excellent Cadillac Jack.
Into The Harbour is a slow, mournful ballad with Southside's voice showing a few signs of age, but somehow that enhances the appeal of the track. Hang Down Your Head is a Tom Waits cover given a marvellous Jukes-style makeover, while The Time Between is a big, brassy soulful ballad. Delbert McClinton's evocative, melodic tear-jerker When Rita Leaves is just magnificent. Southside on absolute top form. I love this song. Don't Call Me Baby is a Philadelphia soul-sounding number, with some Stax horns. Tear Stained Letter is an upbeat, rockabilly-sounding romp. All In My Mind is a typical big, brassy Asbury Park rock ballad. Nothing But A Heartache brings to mind The Small Faces' Tin Soldier, initially, before those huge horns kick in. It also has more than a few Animals' influences in its backing. Overall, this is an enjoyable album but I have to admit I don't play it as much I do the previous one, Going To Jukesville.
A perfectly acceptable slice of Motown, Stax and Northern Soul-ish material from bluesy old veteran Southside Johnny. All the usual ingredients are here - blasting horns, backing vocals and Southside's trademark gravelly voice.