Monday, 7 January 2019

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - I Don't Want To Go Home (1976)


Released in 1976

This was the debut album from this iconic rock'n'roll blues singer and his magnificent horn-driven backing band. While their third album, "Hearts Of Stone" has always been my favourite, there are some good, earthy blues and brass numbers on here plus a couple of classic Bruce Springsteen songs from those classic Asbury Park boardwalk years, where he and all the other musicians featured here played regularly. This latest remaster is excellent and has finally "unmuddied" what was always a pretty muffled sound. It is clearer now, with more defined percussion sounds, at last. The drums, though, will always sound as if they were played under a wet tea towel (which in fact is often what Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt employed to deliberately muffle the drum sound at this time).


1. I Don't Want To Go Home
2. Got To Get You Off My Mind
3. How Come You Treat Me So Bad
4. The Fever
5. Broke Down Piece Of Man
6. Sweeter Than Honey
7. Fanny Mae
8. It Ain't The Meat (It's The Motion)
9. I Choose To Sing the Blues
10. You Mean So Much To Me                        

The title track, written by Steven Van Zandt, is wonderful, big and soulful with a singalong, uplifting chorus. It remains the iconic Southside Johnny song to this day. The cover of Solomon Burke's "Got To Get You Off My Mind" is excellent too, full of bourbon-soaked vocals from Southside. "How Come You Treat Me So Bad" is another upbeat bluesy song, written by Steven Van Zandt, but sounding as if it is late fifties cover. Springsteen's smoky, late night jazz club "The Fever" is an atmospheric number, with another killer vocal and great horns on the chorus. Steve Copper's "Broke Down Piece Of Man" is covered superbly and full of blues rock vigour and a great bass line. Southside's voice again rules the roost.

The same verve carries on into the Motown/Stax-influenced and mega-soulful "Sweeter Than Honey"  which again has some sumptuous horns. Next up are three old blues/soul covers in "Fanny Mae", the quirky "It Ain't The Meat (It's The Motion)" and "I Choose To Sing The Blues", all of which are dealt with effortlessly by Southside.

The final track is a superb duet between Southside and the legendary Ronnie Spector on Springsteen's suitably Spector-esque "You Mean So Much To Me". It is a wonderfully ebullient joy of a recording and concludes a most impressive debut album from a most underrated band.


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