Although Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes' first three albums, I Don't Want to Go Home (1976), This Time It's for Real (1977), and Hearts of Stone (1978), all released by Epic Records, are their most celebrated releases, the group actually enjoyed its commercial zenith (such as it was) after leaving Epic and signing to Mercury Records, where their three LPs The Jukes (1979), Love Is a Sacrifice (1980), and the live album Reach Up & Touch the Sky (1981) each made the Top 100, with The Jukes even crossing into the Top 50 on the strength of the band's first chart single, "I'm So Anxious." On Mercury, the Jukes left behind their mentors and chief songwriters Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt as Southside Johnny and, especially, guitarist Billy Rush took over the composing chores. The result was some terrific, if underrated, material, the highlights of which are featured on this budget-priced, ten-track best-of of the Mercury years. "All I Want Is Everything," "I'm So Anxious," "Living in the Real World," and "Why Is Love Such a Sacrifice" find Rush at his rocking best, and "It Hurts" is a moving ballad. Drawn from the live album are versions of "Hearts of Stone" (written by Springsteen) and "I Don't Want to Go Home" (written by Van Zandt) to top things off. This album represents only a small portion of the career of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, but even a Jukes fan may reconsider the Mercury era after hearing it.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann