Top positive review
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Aint Nothin' But A Party.
on 11 July 2011
This is the real McCoy. This is Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. This is what live performance is all about. R&B/rock/soul/blues-they're all here. Their recorded output had been built largely around the song writing of Bruce Springsteen and, especially, Little 'Miami' Steven Van Zandt culminating in the monumental 'Hearts Of Stone' 3rd album. Poorly plugged and hence underexposed, (despite being critically acclaimed), Johnny changed labels from Epic to Mercury and recorded 'The Jukes'. They toured Europe mainly to promote the album and to diversify their sound. Far from being an imitation of Bruce and The East Street Band, Johnny & The Jukes have a unique sound. Behind Johnny's soul inspired, rocking vocals was a tight rhythm section powered and driven by the dynamic 'Miami Horns' brass section arranged by Richie 'La Bamba' Berger on trombone. Despite the band being 'together' there is still a rough edge to them adding to their live appeal.
The 1979 concert in Essen is a mix of songs written by lead guitarist Billy Rush with a significant Van Zandt/Springsteen input. An animated Johnny belts out up-tempo numbers as in the opening 'All I Want is Everything','Talk To Me', 'Trapped Again','Livin'In The Real World', energised, sweaty, wholehearted,frenetic. Tasteful guitar work from Billy Rush (who sings 'Security') and bopping, brass twirling motoring by the horns. After a pregnant pause, guitar introduces punchy horns, Johnny's harp and an emotionally plaintive rendition of Springsteen's 'The Fever'. Staple song 'I Don't Want To Go Home' (Van Zandt) rocks into 'We're Having A Party' montage by which time the audience is in Johnny's hands. The planned finale with guests was abandoned for unclear reasons.
After a lean period (disillusionment, personal problems etc) Johnny regained his enthusiasm and reformed the Asbury Jukes, recording 'Better Days', his 9th and best album since 'Hearts Of Stone', arranged and mostly written by Little Steven. Another extensive tour of Europe included Cologne in 1992. This mini marathon showcased the versatility of Johnny & The Jukes. Hot rockers 'Got To Find A Better Way Home, 'I Don't Want To Go Home', 'Better Days', 'I've Been Working Too Hard' etc., blow you over, if you are still on your feet after the energy-sapping rhythms and wild antics on the stage. Engaging his audience Johnny excels in his soulful ballads. The moving 'Soul's On Fire','The Fever' and duet Everly's style with lead guitarist Bobby Bandiera ('Let It Be Me' dedicated to Johnny's wife Jill) are memorable. The 'Party' pieces are,as usual,expected and well-received.
As if this pace was not enough, Johnny conjures up Little Steven himself from the side wing. This cranks the show up another gear. Inspired versions of Steven's 'Coming Back','This Time It's For Real', 'It's Been a Long Time' and 'Forever' (sung by Steven) are unforgettable and enjoyable.The party must end but not before an emotionally-charged 'Hearts Of Stone' (Springsteen). Johnny's tender,meaningful vocal accompanied by Little Steven and Bobby Bandiera's guitars are hauntingly beautiful.
This is highly recommended. Well-filmed with good sound. Footage of SJ & Jukes is
limited. This underrated star should be better known. Buy it (bargain of any decade) and show it to all and sundry.P.S. My wife tells me it's a great fitness video.