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Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: This Time It's For Real

Mitchell Cohen, Creem, June 1977

The songs of Miami Steve Van Zandt are like found objects; he zeroes in on particular species of East Coast rhythm and blues, mixes together the standard elements and emerges with a song that echoes and reverberates. As a composer, arranger and producer, he has an extraordinary sense of dynamics, of how to build dramatically and push the song behind This Time It's For Real. As forceful an instrument as Southside Johnny's voice is – authentically soulful without being in any way blackface – and as rough and ready an outfit as the Jukes are, in Miami Steve they have a guy who gets on base and knocks in his own runs. Eight of the ten songs are his (three with Bruce Springsteen), the other two are cover versions of Aretha's 'Without Love' and Eddie Bo's novelty 'Check Mr. Popeye', and nearly every cut swells with the energy that only comes when musicians are doing something they have absolutes faith in. As of this album the Jukes, keepers of the flame, have the turf to themselves.

Total word count of piece: 696

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