Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone (1978)

 |   |  1 min read

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone (1978)

With his big band the Asbury Jukes (a 10-piece), Southside Johnny out of New Jersey could only ever run a distant second to his friend Bruce Springsteen as the Seventies unfurled.

Springsteen had the impetus, the big label, smart management and a kind of destiny -- but they were pals and E Street guitarist Steven Van Zandt was a Juke in '74-'75. Van Zandt produced the first three SJ albums and wrote material for the band -- as did Springsteen.

Hearts of Stone was penned by Springsteen around the time of his Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions (one of about 60 songs which didn't make the final cut) but even then he knew it wasn't for him and on the tape box he wrote that it could go to SJ.

A great soulful ballad, it is Johnny (John Lyon) at his best.

When the Asbury Jukes kicked up that meltdown of rock'n'roll and soul that was also the hallmark of Springsteen's E Street band they were fine, but still couldn't match the E Street for raw energy. However when it was left to Johnny and a soul ballad it was an unbeatable combination.

This was the title track of their final album for Epic (it also contained the equally fine This Time Baby's Gone For Good written by Van Zandt) and Rolling Stone put it among the top albums of the Seventies and Eighties. So you can imagine the label's frustration that they just couldn't get SJ away with the wider public: the guy had the sound, the songs, the right connections . . .

After this his career got shapeless (disco not the smartest of ideas, despite Nile Rodgers producing) and he was dogged by bad luck (one label went bankrupt as he was touring the comeback album Better Days in the early Nineties).

He's still out there today -- but his best years were the mid to late Seventies.

And when you hear him on this you speculate on how great he might have been had not his old mate from the bars along the Jersey Shore been hailed as "the future of rock'n'roll" -- for a sound that was, ironically, so grounded in the past. 

For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

Relic - Feb 10, 2012

Sax/Boss alert:
nothing to see here if you don’t like the Jersey sound. (Jukes, Gary US Bonds, Steve Van Zandt etc.)
Muso mate and I were speculating about what B. Springsteen’s E Street band might do for the 2012 world tour after the demise of the ‘Big Man’ long time saxophonist Clarence Clemmons.
My instinctive romantic contritbution was-“well they gotta get someone from Southside’s band” (Southside Johhny Lyon and the Asbury Jukes) who are a horn driven old style R&B band with many members over the years. The Boss fell out with Southside over the years but they do Jersey stuff and benefits regardless.

Anyways, surprise surprise, original Jukes sax guy Eddie Manion is in. So two trumpets, two sax and one trombone are set to replace one Clarence

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Candi Staton: Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man (1969)

Candi Staton: Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man (1969)

This song -- which has Dan Penn, George Jackson and Martin Green as co-writers -- is so elementally simple as to be little more than a pure outpouring of emotion when sexual desire overwhelms... > Read more

Grace Jones: Me, I Disconnect From You (1981)

Grace Jones: Me, I Disconnect From You (1981)

Before interviewing Gary Numan recently I put a call out on Facebook to anyone who had questions for the man they wanted answered. He was a delight to speak with (see here) and happy to... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

JONATHAN ZWARTZ: Bass player in debut album shock . . . 20 years on

JONATHAN ZWARTZ: Bass player in debut album shock . . . 20 years on

Even longtime jazz listeners would be forgiven for not recognising the name of New Zealand-born double bassist Jonathan Zwartz. He left this country for Australia in the early Eighties, studied in... > Read more

RANDY NEWMAN INTERVIEWED (1999): What's the Buzz?

RANDY NEWMAN INTERVIEWED (1999): What's the Buzz?

Randy Newman is a problem in popular culture, a man misplaced into the rock textbooks simply because there's nowhere else to put him. He's part of rock culture by association (his albums are... > Read more