Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
English packaged goods often bear a fine-print legend identifying the company as “purveyors” of, say, marmalade or biscuits or whatever by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen. It’s a good word: A purveyor seems a step above someone who just cranks stuff out. Take Southside Johnny Lyon, for instance. Since the New Jersey native first teamed with producer Steve Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen’s onetime guitarist) in 1975, he’s been purveying soul-slaked blues rock that is as reliable as the Queen’s brand of marmalade. On the other hand, he often seems trapped in the romanticized hot-asphalt-is-my-perfume groove that was sweated out of Springsteen five years ago by an overdose of media adulation. Sacrifice is a mix of breathless anthems with passable ballads and one inspired slider of a tune, Restless Heart. In sum, even though Van Zandt is no longer with the band (Sacrifice was produced by Billy Rush and Lyon himself), the album is like Johnny’s earlier ones: neither bargain-basement nor top-drawer. But purveyed.