Music

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: From Southside to Tyneside

Close your eyes and listen to this live double-disc set and you’ll swear it’s still 1970-something.


Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes

From Southside to Tyneside

Label: Dream Catcher
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2008-04-28
Amazon
iTunes

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes have been considered the second best bar band to come out of southern New Jersey ever since Bruce Springsteen blew in off the boardwalk. Johnny’s trademark rough and gruff vocals always made him sound like a sincere soul man who has suffered for his art, even when he sings a happy song. And the blaring horn and pounding percussion sections of the Jukes turned every tune into a life and death match for the heart of the listener. These cats didn’t make just music. They went to war.

Times have changed. Band members have come and gone. Johnny’s gotten older. But that doesn’t seem to have mattered. Or as Johnny sings, “Some Things Just Don’t Change”. The essence of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes remains the same. Close your eyes and listen to this live double-disc set and you’ll swear it’s still 1970-something. (The music was actually recorded at the Opera House in Newcastle, UK back in 2002 but just released on CD. It was previously available only on DVD.) You’ll feel the sweat of the person next to you and hear her pounding heart. You’ll smell the stale beer spilled on the floor and thirst for a fresh one. Goddamn, it feels good to go back.

Johnny sings some old songs and belts out new ones with equal verve and passion. It doesn’t always matter what the words are. He croons out obscure classics by Tom Waits, Carole King/Gerry Goffin, and the Boss mixed with those by Little Steven and himself with equal delight. The feeling’s always the same one. It’s you and me against the world, baby. Hold on tight. Life is a hard road. There are lots of bumps, twists and turns. We might never get to where we are going, but it’s one helluva journey.

The repartee between Johnny and the crowd reveals the intimacy they feel for each other. He addresses them as partners, telling them that they don’t want to hear the slow songs when the groove is tight or cursing them to make a point. And people in the audience aren’t shy about shouting requests or even asking what he’s drinking. This isn’t heckling. It’s the kind of response made between friends that care for each other and show that they are paying attention.

There’s a bitter irony in the fact that this album of pure American music is only available in the United States as an import and performed in front of an enthusiastic British audience. In an age where UK imports like Amy Winehouse and Duffy sing retro soul to enthusiastic young American audiences, veterans like Johnny and the Jukes find salvation across the sea. Oh, these guys are still heroes in Jersey and nearby environs, but the rest of the country couldn’t seem to care less about them. Check out the band’s tour itinerary on the web. They play up and down the Eastern seaboard and then fly to Europe. That’s been the basic pattern for many years. As Johnny sings twice here, once with the Jukes and once by himself, he may not want to go home (re: “I Don’t Want to Go Home”), but home is where the heart is. In this case, it’s in England.

8

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image