Sunday, 3 June 2018

Little Steven - Soulfire (2017)

Standing in the line of fire....


Released in 2017

Steven Van Zandt returns after a long absence to cover some of the material he wrote for Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - I'm Coming Back, Some Things Just Don't Change, Love On The Wrong Side Of Town, I Don't Want To Go Home and Ride The Night Away. To be perfectly honest, all of them are more than acceptable - horns to the fore, of course, but, as we all know, Van Zandt is no Southside Johnny vocally. I prefer the Southside Johnny versions to all of them with the possible exception of Some Things Just Don't Change which originally suffered from bad production on Southside's This Time It's For Real album. Actually the same can be applied to Love On The Wrong Side Of Town, to a slightly lesser extent. That said, Steven's voice seems to have deepened with age and is considerably less "whiney" and more gravelly, meaning he sounds more like Southside these days.


1. Soulfire

2. I'm Coming Back
3. Blues Is My Business
4. I Saw The Light
5. Some Things Just Don't Change
6. Love On The Wrong Side Of Town
7. The City Weeps Tonight
8. Down And Out In New York City
9. Standing In The Line Of Fire
10. Saint Valentine's Day
11. I Don't Want To Go Home
12. Ride The Night Away                                      

Regarding the original Van Zandt tunes - Soulfire could well have been written for Johnny as well. Blues Is My Business is a great bluesy, horn-driven rocker and Van Zandt does his best to sound just like Southside. He almost pulls it off here too. Good effort. I Saw The Light sees Steven on great form, this could have been from Southside's Hearts Of Stone or Steven's own Disciples Of Soul. The City Weeps Tonight is a pleasant enough, but inessential 50s doo-wop pastiche. Down And Out In New York City starts out like a mid-70s disco instrumental and ends up like a Southside Johnny album track. Interesting enough.

Standing In The Line Of Fire is very much from Disciples Of Soul territory. Rather like the similarly-titled Lyin' In A Bed Of Fire from that very album. Saint Valentine's Day sounds just like 1977 era Bruce Springsteen. Working with The Boss for so long has clearly rubbed off on this one.

The horns attack and "wall of sound" is as raucous as always. The trick is listen to this stuff in short bursts or on occasions when you're lively, before going out for the evening is ideal.