Little Stevie rages on.
If, like me, you found the three Springsteen records since Magic difficult to love, then help is at hand from the boss’ loyal lieutenant, Little Miami Steve(n) Van Zandt. If this cover art had “Springsteen” stamped across it, the faithful would be falling over themselves. They would have to bolt on a song about Johnny losing his job down at the Cadillac factory, or some such, but it would sell by the ark-load.
It is a mix of new songs (the blistering title track) and old co-writes, with a few choice covers (Etta James, James Brown) thrown in; as Van Zandt says himself, “This album is me doing me.” Five tunes saw previous service on Southside Johnny & The Asbury Dukes long players, including the powerful, Springsteen-aided ‘Love On The Wrong Side Of Town’. ‘Standing In The Line Of Fire’, written with Gary U.S. Bonds in the ’80s, has a Morricone-esque bit from the Lilyhammer soundtrack welded to the front to fine effect, while ‘Saint Valentine’s Day’ and ‘I Saw The Light’ were originally written for Nancy Sinatra and Richie bloody Sambora respectively. Elsewhere, the gorgeous, doo-wop-drenched ‘The City Sleeps Tonight’ was left off Van Zandt’s first solo album, 1982’s excellent Men Without Women.
Van Zandt has spoken previously of his love for the Springsteen outtake albums Tracks and The Promise, and these songs – all stabbing brass, ringing guitars and gospel backing vocals – could comfortably fit on either collection. Bruce heads can happily punch the air to this until the boss’ next effort, and he’ll have to work hard to better it. Fantastic.
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