Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Walk Away Renee" by Southside Johnny & the Jukes

Song#:  2829
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  98
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  John Lyon, aka Southside Johnny, was a major part of the same New Jersey music scene that was home to Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen and Johnny were friendly and once it came time for Johnny and his band the Asbury Dukes to record a 1976 debut album, Springsteen tossed over a couple of tunes while E Street member Steven Van Zandt served as producer. The album, I Don't Want to Go Home, would do well critically, but it wouldn't be a big seller. Van Zandt and Springsteen helped out on Johnny's next two albums, which included what many consider his best effort, 1978's Hearts of Stone. While critics lauded Johnny, the public didn't take much notice and he was never able to break through in a major way. He would continue to record for various labels over the years with only one of his songs, "I'm So Anxious," reaching the Pop chart (#71, 1979). As '86 came along, Johnny signed with RCA and issued an album titled At Least We Got Shoes. This single from the LP became his second and final single to hit the Pop chart. It would be a very minor entry floating around the bottom three positions of the chart for five weeks. Johnny would hook up once again with Van Zandt for 1991's Better Days. It was seen as a comeback album and featured appearances by Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. It would produced the #22 Rock track "It's Been a Long Time."

ReduxReview:  I absolutely love this song and as a kid even owned the original single (see below). This Springsteen-esque version by Southside Johnny is fine. It took me a few listens to get into it. I'm not sure the New Jersey rock sound was a good fit for the pop tune. It also seems to be a bit on the slow side. Johnny can rip up some good rock 'n' R&B and can do some great cover tunes, but I'm not sure this was among his best efforts. My personal favorite version of this song came from Rickie Lee Jones who covered it for her 1983 EP Girl at Her Volcano. It was paired with an original instrumental called "Letter from the 9th Ward." Her take of the tune is just stunningly beautiful.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Left Banke in 1966. The single would reach #5 on the Pop chart. The song would be covered by many artists over the years, but beside the original version by The Left Banke and Southside Johnny's take, the only other artist to get on the Pop chart with the song was The Four Tops. Their 1968 cover version would get to #14 Pop and #15 R&B.


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