Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes' second album suffers a bit in comparison to their debut, I Don't Want to Go Home; while the first album boasted a number of songs that would become staples of the band's killer live show for years to come (such as "The Fever," "Broke Down Piece of Man," and "I Don't Want to Go Home"), This Time It's for Real kicks off with a powerhouse, roof-raising anthem (the title cut) and never comes up with another song that hits quite as hard. Most of This Time It's for Real finds Southside and the Jukes (and their behind-the-scenes mastermind, Miami Steve Van Zandt) in a soulful mood, with vintage R&B groups the Coasters, the Drifters, and the Five Satins lending vocals to three tunes. While much of the album stays in a mid-tempo R&B groove, the band is in superb form throughout (especially the truly mighty Miami Horns), and Southside Johnny more than holds his own as a soul belter, no mean feat with some of the great men of R&B on hand as guests. A stack of fine songs from Van Zandt (and his old buddy Bruce Springsteen) adds the icing to the cake; while purists might wish it rocked harder, This Time It's for Real proves that Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes were one of the finest R&B-based show bands of the 1970s. And as a bonus, read the liner notes for the inside scoop on what the string players ordered for lunch!
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming