I managed to snatch this little gem from Jungleland before the torrent got banned because it isn't a Springsteen bootleg. Which if you ask me is a crying shame. There are few very good South Side Johnny bootlegs out there and this one is borderline superb. I guess I got lucky. The recording is sound board sourced. Though there are a few sound drops and some occasional slurring in the tape, this recording is a fine taste of how the Jukes sounded in their prime days. Though Springsteen was know to jump on stage from time to time during this period in South Side Johnny's career, not this night. However this tape does capture the Queen of R&R Ronnie Spector in her giddy old ways. A guest performance no doubt courtesy to Miami Steve. Van Zandt was quite prolific in those mid to late seventies. Aside from grinding his ax as Springsteen's the side kick in the pimp suit, he produced Southside Johnny on his first classic albums and managed to get a genuine Ronnie Spector single out. A 45 I have yet to chase down for this blog, but when I do, we'll take a closer look at that one.
Back to the show! I always wondered how Southside Johnny never managed to get more of a career out of his first few albums released on Epic. Southside in my mind is one of the finest blue eyed Soul wailers ever to roam the earth. Those van Zandt produced albums are forgotten classics in my mind. This Time It's for Real and Hearts of Stone are must own items for any serious Springsteen fans. As this tape testifies he gave a mean show as well. Those Asbury Jukes shows were some of the most exiting and raving Rock and Soul shows you could catch in those days and I dare say, they still are even today. This show is a fine mix of classic covers, such as Solomon Burke's "Gotta Get You Off My Mind", and originals from the pens of Springsteen and van Zandt. Maybe the bottle neck is that Southside never became a prolific songwriter himself, he arguably never developed a real distinct voice of his own. Though I don't necessarily agree, I can see how some critics rather pick up the originals by Sam Cooke than a Jukes joint. I think those critics are short changing themselves in a misguided sense of purisms, but I guess you'll find part of the explanation there. But maybe South Side simply hit the scene to late. Ten years earlier Joe Cocker became monstrously successful with much the same concept. Like Cocker, Southside reinterprets those classic Soul sounds. If you ask me, Southside did a better job than Cocker. But by the time Southside started out, R&B infused Rock and Soul had its hey day.
Those who are in the know however, will love this recording. Southside had the Soul theatrics down, he knew how to work a room like the best on the chitlin' circuit. He may never have had any fancy dance moves, but then again never did Sam Cooke. I'm not saying Southside comes anywhere near Sam, but he sure had a mighty wailing voice and a wry sense of humor to make up for being rhythmically challenged. Even Soul classics like Sam & Dave's "You Don't Know Like I Know" never become cheap rip offs when Johnny tears into them. He approaches them with genuine love and respect, but never tries to fully copy them. With the Jukes wailing behind them, he makes them his own like few performers can. Ronnie Spector's appearance is endearing on this show, but listening back to it now, I'm wondering why she never hit it big again. In the case of Southside however, it is a crying shame.
"Got To Get You Off My Mind"
Download the full show in mp3 here
A small request, only burn mp3s for personal use, but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The Quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.
Recording: 4- out of 5
Show: 4,5 out of 5
Artwork: 2 out of 5