Thursday, July 22, 2010

TVD Class of '77 | Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, "This Time It's For Real"

Is it OK to say you grew up in the '70s and somehow never really got into Bruce Springsteen?

None of my hometown friends were into Springsteen when he hit it big in the mid-'70s. But when I went away to college, I started working at the newspaper and found myself one desk over from a guy who was a hardcore Springsteen fan. You did anything with that guy and you got the gospel according to Bruce.

Somehow, perhaps by hearing it played at Truckers Union (our local record store), I was introduced to Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, the great R&B big band that thundered out of Asbury Park, New Jersey, not long after Springsteen hit it big.

Part of Southside Johnny Lyon's appeal (to me, at least) was that he was not Springsteen, yet he was one of Springsteen's pals, doing any number of Springsteen songs and sharing a collaborator in Miami Steve Van Zandt. That gave my friend and I some common ground.

Part of the Jukes' appeal (again, to me) was that their music was more consistently upbeat and joyous than that of Springsteen, especially on "This Time It's For Real." That was their second album, released in 1977. It was arranged and produced by Van Zandt, who wrote eight of its 10 songs.

Side 1 is an extended nod to classic R&B, with a cover of Aretha Franklin's "Without Love" and tunes on which the Coasters and the Satins sing backup.

Side 2 gives way to five original R&B workouts, all written by Van Zandt (and three with Springsteen as his co-writer).

We have three of the latter for you. Finishing out Side 2, they go from laid-back, stripped-down blues ("I Ain't Got The Fever No More") to Brill Building-inspired orchestration ("Love On The Wrong Side Of Town") to primal, thundering drums, piano and guitars ("When You Dance").

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - I Ain't Got The Fever No More (Mp3)
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - Love On The Wrong Side Of Town (Mp3)
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - When You Dance (Mp3)

"This Time It's For Real" is out of print, at least on its own. It is available on this 2-on-1 CD also featuring "I Don't Want To Go Home," the group's fine debut LP from 1976.

(Note to Springsteen fans: I appreciate your passion and I appreciate his greatness. I have some of his records. But I am far from a hardcore fan like you, or like my old friend from the newsroom.)


Anonymous said...

What an unusual band to highlight the class of 1977, a year that saw the release of The Jam’s In the City,
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, Steely Dan’s Aja, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Bowie’s Low, The Clash album, and Pink Floyd’s Animals, to name a few that come to mind. I get that this is all about your Jersey roots, but yikes. Springsteen also dubious, imo. Didn't Frank Sinatra release anything in 77?

jb said...

I am not normally much grated-upon by blog comments, but yours frosts me, Noah. Were you actually alive and listening in 1977, or have you come by your taste in Very Serious Records by reading reviews written in the years since?

I bought "Rumours" and "Aja" back in the day, and I like 'em still. And I know the critical/historical importance of the Clash and the Pistols. But the beauty of "This Time It's for Real" is that it's the sound of a damn good party breaking out--and in 1977, that was frequently a primary consideration in whether a record was "good" or not.

It's got nothing to do with Jersey. Jeff (and I) are from Wisconsin. And yeah, Sinatra did release a record in 1977: a disco version of his 50s hit "Night and Day," which I'd much rather listen to than anything by the Jam.

Jeff said...

Noah, please excuse my friend JB. He gets revved up. It's cool.

Records for this '70s feature are chosen completely at random. They aren't meant to represent the best of a certain year, merely that they were released that year.

We also try for things less often heard, then or now, or to get past the hits to some deep tracks. Hope you will dig something here, sometime.