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Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes: Messin' With The Blues (reissue)

The sound of the needle slipping intently into the groove as the 2000 release, Messin' With The Blues, from Southside Johnny begins, tells you that this was a back to basics, blues beast from the hugely respected Jersey Shore Sound protagonist. It was also Johnny's first studio effort in just under a decade, and even with a healthy smattering of covers, it's easy to hear the hunger and passion he'd been storing up. As is most often the case, Messin' also saw Johnny fronting the Asbury Jukes; the collective bringing the goods by the barrow-full. While Johnny's lifelong friend and E Street Band member Gary Tallent provides a sharp, yet gritty production that allows the songs to shine in exactly the manner they should in a dirty, dim, atmospheric gloom that simply adds to the mood.

From the original tracks, "Living With The Blues" does exactly that, the slow, easy pace given urgency through expert brass and keyboard work, and pitch perfect, but perfectly unpolished vocals from Johnny himself. "Satan's Shoes" adds a sliding shuffle to the party, the trade off between good times ahead and prices to be paid further down the line, brought to life with real intent. However, with "Looks Like Rain" chugga-booming like a train coming down the tracks through stinging little guitar lines and a wonderful accordion solo and "Kill My Love" adding a shot of adrenalin to proceedings, the bases are eagerly manned.

The same can be said for the covers, Tom Waits' "Gin Soaked Blues" howling and crying, Kevin Gordon's "Cadillac Jack" a boogie's worth of goodness, while "River's Invitation" is a more considered piece of persuasion. Hugely varied though it all is, when brought together under the same bluesy umbrella, it's the authentic vibes and Johnny's storytelling abilities that really lift this set of songs far beyond most contemporary albums of this ilk and, if truth be told, beyond the expectations for an artist whose more recent work had struggled for the heart, soul and intent shown here in abundance.

The last decade and a half has seen a real resurgence in young acts walking the long road of the blues. Arguably however, it's the older heads of Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes that lay claim to one of the noughties best albums in this style. All they were doing, was Messin' With The Blues.

Track Listing
1. Gin Soaked Boy
2. Living With The Blues
3. Rhumba And Coke
4. Sinful
5. Messin' Around With The Blues
6. Tell 'Em I'm Broke
7. Satan's Shoes
8. Intermission
9. Cadillac Jack
10. Looks Like Rain
11. River's Invitation
12. Come Home Little Girl
13. Mother Earth
14. Kill My Love

Added: March 5th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Messin' With The Blues at Wienerworld
Hits: 1547
Language: english

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