By Robyn Collins
Soulfire is Steven Van Zandt’s first solo album in almost two decades. The collection sees the E Street Band guitarist focusing directly on the hugely influential “soul horns-meet-rock ‘n’ roll guitars” approach he first utilized on Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes’ classic first three albums (he was the producer on those albums).
“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.”
“This was the most fun I’ve ever had making a record. We did it quickly, while we still had the fire and energy from the London show. We just took it into the studio and banged it out, six weeks from start to mix. It’s one of those strange things, it really seems like it was meant to be.”
The album features songs from Van Zandt’s history, including “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” which he wrote for garage rock band the Cocktail Slippers, and a number of songs that he wrote for Southside Johnny, including “I’m Coming Back,” “Some Things Just Don’t Change,” “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” and “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” as well as “Standing in the Line of Fire,” which he co-wrote for Gary U.S. Bonds. There’s also a cover of the James Brown classic, “Down and Out in New York City.”
“I want to take this band (Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul) to every place that wants to see us. It’s tricky with a 15-piece band, but I’m just trying to achieve my lifelong goal of breaking even!”
“I’m back into it,” Little Steven says. “And this time I’m going to stay back.”