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Heart And Soul,
This review is from: This Time It's for Real (Audio CD)
Listening again to this 1977 album by Asbury Park's finest (OK, only kidding - but certainly second finest), Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, I was (almost) inevitably touched by a bout of intense nostalgia (getting more and more frequent these days). Nostalgia that is not only for this superb band (one of the finest live bands I ever set eyes on), but also for that late 70s creative music-fest - which gave us not only the cream of 'punk' in The Clash, Pistols, Jam, Subway Sect, Damned, Generation X, etc, but also the inspirational Bruce, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and The Rumour and this soul-infused Asbury Park 10-piece (in fact that seminal year, 1977, produced stunning gigs at London's Rainbow comprising Messrs. Parker and Lyon on the same bill and then less than two months later a bill including Clash, Jam, Sect et al - inspirational music never to be repeated, I fear).
Back to This Time It's For Real. For me, this second Southside Johnny album (or third if you include their 1976 Live At The Bottom Line release) does not quite match the consistent brilliance of the follow-up Hearts Of Stone, having one or two relatively mediocre songs, but, at its best, is a superbly infectious and invigorating mix of soul/Stax/Motown-inspired sounds, and as good as anything the band did (at least in the early years with which I am familiar). As with most of the band's early recordings, regular E Street Band member Miami Steve van Zandt contributes 8 of the 10 songs included here (3 of which were co-written with The Boss) and, of these, each of the album's title song, Some Things Just Don't Change and Love On The Wrong Side Of Town are classic Southside Johnny (wall-of-sound soul with The Miami Horns at their peak), When You Dance is a storming, r&b-infused album closer, whilst, ballad-wise, First Night (with The Satins providing backing vocals) and (particularly) Little Girl So Fine (with The Drifters on backing vocals) are dreamily romantic and infectious.
However, and maybe strangely, my favourite song on the album has always been not a Miami Steve or Springsteen composition but Johnny's cover of Without Love (co-written by Aretha Franklin's sister, Carolyn). This is simply four and a half minutes of pure magic (goose pimples all the way) - Johnny's voice at its most passionate and plaintive, soaring strings, ebullient brass and a musical arrangement to match Phil Spector at his best. The sort of song you hear and are simply amazed that it was not a massive hit record - still that's the music business for you, I guess. It's very tempting to award the album 5 stars on the strength of this song alone (catch the 1977 OGWT live version on Youtube - astonishing).