Little Steven of E Street Band Cuts New Solo Album

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Little Steven

Update (May 9): Little Steven has released a new track from his forthcoming Soulfire album, “Love on the Wrong Side of Town.” The song, co-written by Bruce Springsteen, originally appeared on Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes’ This Time It’s for Real album in 1977. Scroll to the bottom of the page to give a listen.

Here’s our original item on the new Little Steven album…
The first new album in nearly two decades from E Street Band guitarist Little Steven (aka Steven Van Zandt, aka, Miami Steve), titled Soulfire, will arrive on May 19, available on CD, digitally and on vinyl as a double LP. The release is due from Wicked Cool/Big Machine/UMe. Pre-order begins today, April 7, and will be accompanied by an instant free download of the recently unveiled album track, “Saint Valentine’s Day.” Pre-order Soulfire here.

The album, according to a press release, sees the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer “revisiting songs that span the length of his career as artist, performer, producer, arranger and songwriter, focusing directly on the hugely influential ‘soul horns-meet-rock ‘n’ roll guitars’ approach he first pioneered on Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes’ classic first three albums.”

The release continues: “I’ve always been very thematic with my work, very conceptual,” Van Zandt says. “I need a big picture, I can’t just do a collection of songs, that doesn’t work for me. In this case, the concept became me. Who am I? I’m kind of my own genre at this point. So I tried to pick material that when you added it all up, really represented me. So there are a couple of covers, a couple of new songs, and some of what I feel are the best songs I’ve written and co-written over the years. This record is me doing me.”

Listen to the title cut, “Soulfire”…

Related: BCB’s review of a 2016 show by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt and Southside Johnny, from left to right (Photo from Southside’s Facebook page)

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul made their return last October, prompted by a friend’s request to perform at London’s BluesFest 2016. Van Zandt had only just returned home from the E Street Band’s summer stadium run but his autumn plans already included a trip to the U.K. to celebrate both his wife’s birthday and his friend Bill Wyman’s 80th.

Little Steven quickly put together a “Disciples of Soul for the 21st century, an ever-changing group of misfits, rogues, and roustabouts,” in his words, complete with three backing vocalists and a full horn section currently featuring original Asbury Jukes/Miami Horns saxophonists Stan Harrison (tenor) and Eddie Manion (baritone). Van Zandt and his 15-piece big band played what was supposed to be a “one-night-only” performance in London highlighted by hits like “I Don’t Want To Go Home,” solo favorites, songs written for other artists, and covers of tracks made famous by Etta James, James Brown and the Electric Flag.

“I thought, well, we’ve already learned 22 songs,” Van Zandt says. “Maybe we should make an album.”

With his packed schedule clear until the E Street Band’s “Summer ’17” tour of Australia/New Zealand, Van Zandt decided to gather the musicians and cut an album. Soulfire was arranged and produced by Van Zandt at his own Renegade Studios in New York City, co-produced and recorded by Grammy-winner Geoff Sanoff and co-produced and music directed by guitarist Marc Ribler, the latter recruited by Van Zandt as Darlene Love’s music director for Love’s 2015 Van Zandt-produced Introducing Darlene Love. Background vocals on “I Don’t Want To Go Home” and “The City Weeps Tonight” are from the a cappella group the Persuasions. Soulfire was mixed and mastered by Van Zandt’s career-long collaborators and friends Bob Clearmountain (Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Who, Bryan Adams), and Bob Ludwig (Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, The Band, Sly and the Family Stone).

Van Zandt has recorded five previous solo albums and has acted on The Sopranos and Lilyhammer. He has also served as host, historian and rock ‘n’ roll advocate on Sirius XM’s Little Steven’s Underground Garage (and was the creator of Sirius XM’s long-running Outlaw Country format). Van Zandt composed the score for all three seasons of Lilyhammer and has continued to work as producer and songwriter.

But, he says, “I felt a bit guilty about having walked away from Little Steven the artist. I left that part of myself behind and I shouldn’t have done that. I let the material down by not continuing to perform it. I betrayed the work and I want to fix that. I didn’t give up on the material—there were a lot of other factors—but I do have a sense of wanting some redemption for it.”

Van Zandt will remain a touring and recording member of the E Street Band but will first hit the road with Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, starting officially April 22 at Asbury Park, N.J.’s Paramount Theatre and then continuing with headline gigs and festival dates around the world. A full-scale North American headline tour will be announced soon – for regular updates and ticket information, go here.

In addition, the 2017 Asbury Park Music & Film Festival has announced that Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul have added an additional performance on April 21 at 4:00 p.m. at the House of Independents in Asbury Park, N.J., for a live episode of the public television live music series Front and Center. For ticketing information, go here.

Tour Dates
June 9 Solvesborg, Sweden – Sweden Rock (festival)
June 14 Leipzig, Germany – Parkbühne
June 16 Frankfurt, Germany – Batschkapp
June 22 Dublin, Ireland – Vicar Street
June 25 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Carré
July 1 Järvenpää , Finland – Puisto Blues (festival)
July 4 Pistoia, Italy – Piazza del Duomo
July 5 Ljubljiana, Slovenia – Križanke
July 8 Barcelona, Spain – Cruïlla Festival (festival)
August 5 Notodden, Norway – Notodden Blues Festival (festival)

Watch Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul play for David Letterman

Listen to “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” from Soulfire.


Best Classic Bands Staff

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