Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes

Love Is a Sacrifice

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1979's The Jukes was an unsuccessful effort to dress up Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes and make their music a bit more radio friendly; the album didn't sell especially better than its predecessors, and thankfully the band was left to their own devices on 1980's Love Is a Sacrifice. This time, vocalist Johnny Lyon and guitarist Billy Rush produced the sessions, and the results were a lot closer to the Jersey shore R&B that always marked their best work, and if it wasn't a masterpiece like Hearts of Stone, it certainly plays to their strengths -- the sharp punch of the horns, the snap of the rhythm section, the soaring melodies and Lyon's tough blues-shot vocals. Billy Rush wrote the songs this time out (except for two numbers he co-wrote with Lyon), and if his skills as a tunesmith weren't up to his abilities as a guitarist, they mark a step up from his work on The Jukes, leaning less towards clich├ęs and giving the players more space to show their stuff. "Goodbye Love," "Why," and the title cut show that the Jukes still had plenty to say and no confusion about how to say it after the upsets of the previous few years. Love Is a Sacrifice isn't an especially flashy or innovative record -- it's just no-nonsense, meat and potatoes barroom R&B, and that's always what Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes did best, with this album capturing them in their element.

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