Mention the name Steven Van Zandt in Australia and, if you get a response at all, he’ll probably be identified as Miami Steve from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, or (probably more likely) the actor who played Silvio Dante in The Sopranos. Mention the name in my presence, however, and you’ll probably get a reference to his contribution to the early albums by Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes and his identity as Little Steven, head honcho of an outfit called The Disciples of Soul in the 1980s.
Slotted firmly into Hughesy’s all-time favourite albums is 1982's Men Without Women by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, and my enthusiasm for that album was such that when I noticed this live performance from The Stone Pony in Asbury Park dating back to July 2011 it was a fairly obvious no-brainer.
Six horns up here tonight exclaims Mr Lyon at one point, and that’s the key ingredient in a close to note for note reproduction of Mr Van Zandt’s earlier work. One imagines there wasn’t a need for too much rehearsal for the show that ran through the album’s track list from the opening Lyin’ In A Bed of Fire to I’ve Been Waiting, not least because many of the participants were on the original album anyway.
A bit rough around the edges, perhaps, but these dudes have playing stuff along these lines live for the best part of forty years, and what you lose in crisply rehearsed, brushed and buffed studio perfection is compensated for by an exuberant live vibe.
Two copies might be superfluous in most collections, but in these parts an old favourite with This Time It’s For Real, Broke Down Piece of Man and It’s Been A Long Time tacked on the end will be getting its share of airings. 3.5* for the general public equates to Interesting but non-essential, but if you’re into horn-driven R&B you’d probably mark it up by at least half a notch.
Need convincing? Rock over to the iTunes Store and take a listen to Forever. Hell, rock over to itTunes and have a sample of all of it...
But start with Forever...