When Bruce Springsteen first rose to fame in the mid-'70s, more than a few critics were bemused by the prospect of a rock star from Asbury Park, NJ, one of the Garden State's less scenic locales, but when Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes dropped their classic debut album I Don't Want to Go Home the same year as Born to Run, for a moment it seemed as if the Jersey Shore could be the secret center of the rock & roll universe. At its best, I Don't Want to Go Home sounds like the work of the greatest bar band in the history of the world; pumping out superb covers of lesser-known R&B classics (with Lee Dorsey and Ronnie Spector on hand to contribute guest vocals) as well as like-minded originals; the Jukes are admirably tough but versatile on this record, adding the right touch of swagger on "How Come You Treat Me So Bad" and "Broke Down Piece of Man" while sounding suitably heartbroken on the title cut and generally proving they can play anything they set their minds to and make it cook. While Springsteen fans were initially attracted to this album by the presence of two otherwise unavailable tunes by the Boss, "The Fever" and "You Mean So Much to Me," his bandmate, Steve Van Zandt, turned out to be the secret weapon on this album, producing the sessions and writing three of the album's best songs, and Southside Johnny Lyon's vocals are powerful and fully confident on every track, even while trading verses with legends like Dorsey and Spector. If I Don't Want to Go Home didn't quite capture the sweat and physical power of a live Southside Johnny gig, it got the band's heart and soul on tape with tremendous accuracy, and it's a masterful set of hard-boiled blue-eyed soul.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming