PEOPLE who only know John Cafferty & Beaver Brown from their "Eddie and the Cruisers" soundtrack will be surprised by the fiercely original music of "Tough All Over," the first album that's really their own. While the soundtrack tunes were mostly written for specific situations in the movie, the new songs are Cafferty's personal response to the tough choices facing his old friends from Rhode Island. With jobs drying up there, they've either had to pull up roots to look for work or stay put and suffer through tough times.

The anthemic opening song, "Voices of America's Sons," argues powerfully that rock 'n' roll has been the only vehicle of expression for such kids. The cover song, "Tough All Over," is an infectious rocker that reassures those kids that their situation isn't a personal failing but a larger social phenomenon. "Dixieland," an uptempo gospel number, describes the hopes and regrets that accompany the migration from the Frost Belt to the Sun Belt. "Small Town Girl," an East Coast R&B tune, offers the flip side of the story: the guy who's not willing to give up his fianc,ee to go off looking for work.

All these songs are even more radio accessible than the soundtrack tunes, and yet they have far more substance. Cafferty has matured into a fine, soulful singer. His band's wide-ranging styles sound authentic, yet each is a distinctively Beaver Brown number.