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Grapefruit Moon - The Songs of Tom Waits

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Album Review

Southside Johnny Lyon has been fronting one of America's most consistently hard-rocking R&B show bands, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, for well over 30 years, so this album should come as something of a surprise to longtime fans — here Southside sings a dozen tunes from the songbook of Tom Waits alongside a jazzy, full-bodied big band led by Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg, a longtime fixture in the Asbury Jukes horn section (and a member of Max Weinberg's band on Late Night with Conan O'Brien). While this is very much a change of pace, it's one that both Lyon and Rosenberg handle with confidence and aplomb; Lyon's voice shows a touch more grain than it did in his salad days with the Jukes, but his sense of phrasing and showman's touch is superb, and he brings swagger, heart, and sincerity to every performance here, and when Waits shows up for a duet on "Walk Away," the two trade lines as if they've been singing together for years. Lyon is also a shrewd judge of material, and the dozen numbers here fit his personality and vocal approach like a glove, especially "Please Call Me Baby," "New Coat of Paint," and "All the Time in the World." Rosenberg's charts are robust and imaginative, honoring the strength of Waits' melodies while giving the songs a chance to stretch out in new directions, and given that a majority of these songs came from the Beefheart-influenced period following Swordfishtrombones, these versions give them a new and very different musical personality steeped in big-band jazz, supper club blues, and classic pop. Is this rock & roll? Not quite, but it's got a beat, it swings hard, and it boasts a great singer and a great band working their way through a first-class set of songs; Grapefruit Moon is an experiment that succeeds, and hopefully it won't be too long before Lyon and Rosenberg try something like this again.

Customer Reviews

This is a wonderful and fun disc.

Southside, LaBamba's Big Band and Tom Waits tunes, huh? Well I've got to tell ya... this is a tremendous album! Tom even makes an appearance on "Walk Away". The horn section is tight while Southside is typical Southside adding his raspy soulful vocals. This is not a typical Jukes album but rather has more of a big band sound which I happen to be partial to with my love for Maynard Ferguson's band's through the years. I can't recommend this enough! Southside with a big band doing Waits! Very cool! Get it and enjoy!

A Jazz Revelation

Who would have thought that soul man Southside Johnny could be such a great jazz singer? The answer -- composer Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg. LaBamba's orchestration on these Tom Waits is near perfect. He has found a way to take the melodies of Tom Waits and transform them into tunes worthy of Wait's colorful lyrics. This is an album well worth trying. Rosenberg should receive serious Grammy consideration for this well-conceived work.

Grapefruit Moon

Always a Southside fan, and a big Waits fan, I couldn't wait for this. Initially, I was not very impressed by the selection of songs on the album or the arrangements by La Bamba, that said, the more I listen to it, the harder it is to get out of the CD player. Southside's vocals are perfect! The orchestration adds a dimension to Waits songs that grows on you. I hope this is a success, so that they do a second one, there is so much more of the Waits songbook to explore.


Born: December 4, 1948 in Neptune, NJ

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes were the second band after Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band to emerge from the New Jersey shore scene, and though they carried over a significant influence (and some key personnel) from their predecessors, they were a more generic white R&B horn band in the Memphis Stax Records tradition. The group was organized in 1974 by singer John Lyon (b. December 4, 1948, Neptune, NJ) and guitarist/songwriter "Miami" Steve Van Zandt (b. November 22, 1950, Boston)....
Full Bio

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