Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul
Wicked Cool/Big Machine
Bringing Sunshine to the Edge of Town!
A few weeks ago and for no apparent reason I decided to make a list of my Top 10 Gigs of all time and at #6 was Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the much lamented Newcastle Dingwalls in 1983. The band were so big and the stage so small the horn section actually had to stand beside the stage!
For the uninitiated Little Steven is a) Miami Steve Van Zandt b) the best ever guitarist in Springsteen’s E-Street Band 3) Silvio in the Sopranos d) Frank in Lilyhammer and e) the co-founder of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Then…..an e-mail arrived asking if I’d like a copy of his/their new album.
HELL YES KIDDA!
Sounding more than a little bit like Springsteen himself; Little Steven’s first ‘solo’ album in nigh on 20 years gets off to a killer start with the red hot title track SOULFIRE. Combining bang-bang Rock n Roll with some blistering Southern Soul the band sound like teenagers swaggering around the stage of a High-school prom; not the ‘men of a certain age’ that they actually are.
That high octane vibe continues through track #2 I’m Coming Back, and the third time I played this song Mrs. Magpie caught me dancing in the kitchen as I made a cup of coffee!
A lot has happened to Van Zandt since those heady days in the early 80’s when this band were in their infancy; and the intervening years haven’t diminished his love of music one iota as you can tell when he revels in the spotlight on the gorgeous ballads Love On The Wrong Side of Town and I Don’t Want To Go Home; with the later having a touch of Sam Cooke about it, if I’m not mistaken.
It’s all too easy to dismiss Van Zandt as ‘just a guitarist and showman’ but listen to the lyrics in The City Weeps Tonight which nods adoringly at the crooners he would have listened to in his teenage years.
Another song that should be ‘listened to’ for the same reasons is Down and Out in New York City, which sounds like it could be an out-take from SuperFly until you listen to Stevie’s razor sharp observations which are very, very topical and a tad Political with a capital P.
Not for the first time this year the title of ‘Favourite Track’ is a toss-up, between the blistering Blues Is My Business which in another world would have been a huge hit for Joe Cocker; and the other is the super-cool Alt. Rock n Roller St. Valentine’s Day which got turned up to 11 the first time I played it in the car (and head-banged and fist-pumped to it!). Let’s just call it a tie, shall we.
Apart from the classy production and a slightly smoother and well worn rasp to Van Zandt’s voice this album is just as exciting in every nook and cranny as the Men Without Women LP was when I bought it in 1982………35 bloody years ago!
Released May 19th 2017