Picks and Pans Review: Slow Dance

updated 11/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Southside Johnny

Southside Johnny has shucked the Jukes, at least for the time being, and the alum of the Jersey Shore school of rock has also jettisoned the horn-dominated sound that has served him so well. He's showing a softer, romantic mood on this first solo record. South-side (Mr. John Lyon to the formal-minded) still has a voice full of the texture and feel of the part of Chicago that inspired his professional moniker. He roams comfortably through a range of musical styles, including "adult contemporary," and he can hold his own as a balladeer, but some of these tunes are lackluster. The full-blown production on such songs as Act of Love and Sirens of the Night doesn't mask deficiencies in the songwriting, and the cumulative result is as sticky as warm taffy. When the Moment Is Right is suitable VH-1 fodder, but the patience of Jukes diehards will be sorely tested. The album is not a complete bust, however, thanks to the warm, breezy title track and Southside's cover of Marvin Gaye's classic Ain't That Peculiar. The rage underlying Little Calcutta is articulated in Lyon's view of the homeless and urban blight: "Now life in the subway is a long slow fade to black/When you're beneath the city, nothing you can do but crack." Unfortunately, the record ends with Springsteen's Walking Through Midnight, which sounds as if it might have been written when Bruce was half asleep. At times like that, this record takes on the quality of a sedative. (Cypress)

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