Posts Tagged ‘The Disciples of Soul’

Little Steven’s sophomore album from 1984, featuring “Voice of America,” “Solidarity,” “Los Desaparecidos,” and “Among the Believers,” returns to CD in Bob Ludwig’s remaster previously available only on vinyl.  The CD edition gets even sweeter with the addition of the full Live at Rockpalast 1984 concert.  Voice of America was written, produced, and arranged by Little Steven who got support from The Disciples of Soul (including The Rascals’ Dino Danelli) and guest background vocalist Gary U.S. Bonds.  (The edition currently streaming features bonus tracks only on CD as part of Little Steven’s Rock ‘n Roll Rebel box set).

Little Steven Van Zandt’s 1982 debut with his The Disciples of Soul, Men Without Women, remains a high watermark in the Jersey shore bar band sound with its fusion of classic rock and soul sounds.  Van Zandt was joined by members of The E Street Band, The Asbury Jukes, and The Miami Horns as well as pals like The Rascals’ Dino Danelli and Felix Cavaliere, and Gary U.S. Bonds.  This CD release, slightly delayed from last Friday, premieres Bob Ludwig’s remaster (previously available only on vinyl) on CD and adds a bonus DVD of Little Steven’s 1982 Rockpalast concert.  The edition that’s currently streaming has a number of bonus tracks only available on CD as part of Little Steven’s Rock ‘n Roll Rebel box set.

Little Steven aka Steve Van Zandt still considers the return of his Disciples of Soul band to be “a little bit of a miracle, to be honest.” But he’s not stopping to pinch himself, either, as the troupe prepares for the May 3rd release of a new album, “Summer of Sorcery”, whose “A World of Our Own” first released track.

“To keep this band together for two years has been an extraordinary achievement, and I’m so proud of them and their loyalty for sticking with me,” Van Zandt says. He launched the Disciples of Soul back in 1982 and brought the group back to active duty with 2017’s Soulfire, its first release in 18 years, and last year’s Soulfire Live. “Everybody in the world wants to hire these guys, and they’ve just stayed with me. It really shows that the longer you keep a band together, the better they get. And these cats were great to begin with, so it’s really gotten to a high level at this point.”

Summer of Sorcery, meanwhile, casts a different kind of spell than Van Zandt pursued on the six previous Disciples of Soul studio albums. Comprised of all-new material after Soulfire mined the vaults of existing songs, the Summer of Sorcery features all new material and eschews previous discourses into autobiography or politics.

“I wanted to get away from those things,” Van Zandt explains. “I wanted to fictionalize my work. The politics seemed necessary in the ’80s… but now it just seems too obvious. It’s attacking us 24/7, and I just feel people need a break from it. We’ve never been more divided, so my usefulness is trying to bring people together, on common ground.” And with Summer of Sorcery Van Zandt feels that territory is sunshine and love.

“Basically I just wanted to create 12 different movies,” he says. “The overall concept is this broad idea of summer, of that first summer of consciousness where you are falling in love with life itself. You’re connected to that great sort of ritual of the rite of spring and the earth is blooming and coming to life, and you feel that in your soul, that sort of rebirth and hope and optimism. I want to try to capture that, and use that as the overall scene. It’s a looser theme, but still I need that anchor, a concept to work in. I can’t just do a collection of songs at random. So that’s what worked for me this time.”

Summer of Sorcery’s 12 tracks also explore a variety of motifs, from the brassy soul rock of “Communion” to the funk of “Gravity,” rockabilly on “Superfly Terraplane,” doo-wop on “Love Again,” the Latino flavor of “Party Mambo!,” “Vortex’s” homage to Isaac Hayes’ Shaft soundtrack and the bouncy Gary U.S. Bonds feel of “Soul Power Twist.”

“A World of Our Own,” meanwhile, has a shimmering Phil Spector quality that Van Zandt acknowledges as “the girl group entry of this album.”

Soulfire Live! is an epic and electrifying journey through rock ‘n’ roll history led by one of its most passionate practitioners, showcasing Stevie Van Zandt’s limitless knowledge, talent, and sheer love for the genre in all its many shapes and guises. Among the album’s many highlights is the introduction made by the legendary Mike Stoller, who along with partner Jerry Leiber, are widely considered to be the first successful and the most enduring rock songwriters and producers of all time. Other highlights on the album are the original songs from throughout Little Steven’s illustrious career – including classics like “Standing In The Line Of Fire” and “I Don’t Want To Go Home” alongside a number of favorite cover versions like The Electric Flag’s “Groovin’ Is Easy,” Etta James’ “Blues Is My Business,” and James Brown’s “Down And Out In New York City,” the latter two songs also featured on last year’s critically acclaimed Soulfire. In addition Soulfire Live!, includes Van Zandt’s inimitable introductions, detailing each song’s unique history and singular spot in his life and illustrious career.

Soulfire Live! was produced and arranged by Stevie Van Zandt; the album was mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Bob Ludwig.

Little Steven (aka Steven Van Zandt) and his powerful 14-piece band The Disciples of Soul performing live around the world! Includes guest appearances from Bruce Springsteen, Richie Sambora, Peter Wolf, and Jerry Miller!

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