Steven Van Zandt rose to fame as “Miami Steve” during his work with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. But on a hiatus from that band, the guitarist and singer released several outstanding albums as a lead singer in the 1980s under the name “Little Steven.” Now, after 18 years, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul are returning with a new album, Soulfire.
Soulfire features a collection of songs written for various purposes throughout the years. The album features some of Little Steven’s versions of songs he helped write for Southside Johnny, such as “I Don’t Want to Go Home” and “Love on the Wrong Side of Town,” the latter of which Van Zandt wrote with Springsteen.
The music sounds like the rock and soul of his earlier albums. Van Zandt explained to Rolling Stone: “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.”
I have always been a big fan of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. I first listened to his work because of his association with Springsteen. But one listen to his first album made me a Little Steven fan.
Little Steven’s 1982 album Men Without Women was a great debut. Yet, 1984’s Voice of America is one of my all-time favorite albums. Voice of America included fantastic songs like “Out of the Darkness,” which appeared as a video on MTV, and “I am a Patriot,” later covered by Jackson Browne and by Pearl Jam.
I also liked Little Steven’s Freedom – No Compromise (1987), which continued building upon Van Zandt’s political voice with songs like “Trail of Broken Treaties” and “Bitter Fruit.” His 1989 album Revolution flew below my radar. Perhaps folks paid less attention because it digressed from the sound of his earlier albums, embracing even more of the electronic sound of the era. Similarly, when Little Steven finally returned in 1999 with a new album, Born Again Savage, the garage-rock sound disappointed me a bit.
Soulfire, however, finds Little Steven returning to the soul sounds of his early great albums. So, I cannot wait for the release.
The first single from Soulfire is “St. Valentine’s Day.” Van Zandt originally wrote the song for Nancy Sinatra but she never got to record it so he helped The Cocktail Slippers record it originally. Check out the version on Little Steven’s new album.
Soulfire will hit the Internet stores on May 19, 2017.
What is your favorite Little Steven song? Leave your two cents in the comments.