Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes

The Jukes

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1978's Hearts of Stone was a superb distillation of everything Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes had been trying to do with their music in the early years, and when it failed to sell significantly better than its predecessors, it signaled some major changes for the band. Steve Van Zandt was out as producer and principle songwriter (he was also busy with his other gig in Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band), and the group moved to Mercury Records, which released The Jukes in 1979. Barry Beckett of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section produced The Jukes, and his approach seemed designed to sand off some of their rough edges; tunes like "Paris" and "Time" are smoother and more polished than anything the band had cut up to this time, and "Security" and "Vertigo" sound more like late-'70s soul than the beer-soaked hard rhythm & blues that had been their stock in trade. While Johnny Lyon and the rest of the Jukes sound as good as ever, the album's clean, compact surfaces don't give them much room to connect, and the power the group brought to Hearts of Stone and I Don't Want to Go Home is largely missing. It also doesn't help that the Jukes didn't have as good a songwriter as Van Zandt on hand to take their mentor's place; guitarist Billy Rush takes up most of the slack, but while he understands the Jukes strengths, his lyrics are often trite and the melodies aren't always up to snuff. While there are a few great tunes on The Jukes (most notably the storming opening cut, "All I Want Is Everything"), this is a long way from what these guys did best.

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