Little Steven opens vault with ‘RockNRoll Rebel’ box set

Limited edition boxed set features restored and remastered vinyl editions of classic out-of-print albums

For the first time, Little Steven’s pioneering early solo career albums have been collected together in a new boxed set, RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work (Wicked Cool/UMe), which includes all of the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s solo records between 1982 and 1999, as well as the landmark protest album, Sun City, by Artists United Against Apartheid, the supergroup of musicians brought together by Little Steven aka Steven Van Zandt and record producer Arthur Baker to fight racial injustice in South Africa. RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work is available exclusively via uDiscoverMusic. The set will be released on January 24th.

Limited to just 1,000 copies, the bespoke slipcase multi-format set includes remastered editions of five long-out-of-print classic albums – Men Without Women (1982), Voice Of America (1983), Sun City (1985), Freedom – No Compromise (1987), Revolution (1989) and the vinyl debut of Born Again Savage (1999) – across seven-colored vinyl LPs. The comprehensive collection also boasts four CDs of rarities culled from Van Zandt’s personal vault, allowing an in-depth look at his early solo career with 51 tracks spanning previously unreleased demos, B-sides, rehearsals, outtakes, radio spots, non-album singles, classic concert performances, and a number of never-before-heard studio gems, complete with corresponding liner notes from Van Zandt about each of the bonus tracks. The collection also marks the first time Revolution is available on vinyl in the U.S., having previously only been released in Europe.

“It’s been a blast going through the archives and finding all these hidden gems,” says Van Zandt. “In addition to demos in various stages of completion, there are entire songs I’d completely forgotten about, and we found some really early things pre-Jukes like Southside Johnny and the Kid (the kid being me!). I’m excited to have my stuff back on vinyl for the first time in decades!”

In addition, all the albums included in the box are now available digitally as deluxe editions, expanding each album with the same rare and unreleased tracks from the era that make up the four discs of rarities in the physical collection.

Sun City, which has never been available digitally, has been expanded with four bonus tracks, including the previously unreleased “Soweto Nights,” described by Van Zandt in the liners as “a phenomenal track seemingly composed at the session (as far as I know) by Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams, who we brought in to improvise along with what Miles Davis had laid down (‘The Struggle Continues’),” and “The Struggle Continues (Extra Miles Davis Version)” which includes an additional six minutes of Davis performing. It also features the extended “Sun City (Last Remix)” and its B-side “Not So Far Away (Dub Mix)” from the rare UK 12” single. Also now available digitally is the rare 1985 three-song 12” EP, Let Me See Your I.D., with the Extended Mix, Street Mix and Beat and Scratch Mix of the Sun City track that brought together an international cadre of artists which included Gil Scott-Heron, Miles Davis, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Peter Wolf, Kurtis Blow, Scorpio, The Fat Boys, Sonny Okosuns and Duke Bootee for a song to protest South Africa’s mandatory I.D. “Pass Laws,” imposed by the apartheid regime. Van Zandt is donating all artist and publishing royalties from Sun City to the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation for the TeachRock.org music history curriculum.

A special digital only album dubbed The Early Work, which collects ten previously unreleased tracks of early rehearsals and live performances with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes spanning 1973-77, is also now available. It’s capped off with a live performance from 1995 of The Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain.” All albums can be streamed/downloaded below.

In conjunction with RockNRoll Rebel, a limited edition standalone 144-page, 12” x 12” companion book is in the works featuring Van Zandt’s in-depth liner notes and memories and stories about the making of each album, lyrics to every song and hundreds of never-before-seen photos. It will be available for pre-order soon.

Host of the long-running syndicated radio show Little Steven’s Underground Garage and the incredibly popular SiriusXM channel of the same name, Little Steven will explore four examples of what he calls “Wisdom Art,” art that can only be made by artists that have been around for a while, on this weekend’s show. He will delve into Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and the Who’s new song, “All This Music Must Fade.” The show airs on over 100 stations in the United States, over 100 countries worldwide, and is excerpted on Van Zandt’s SiriusXM Channel 21.

To coincide with the release of RockNRoll Rebel, Van Zandt has been making select videos from his early career available on his official YouTube channel for the first time as well as offering up a ton of other visuals from the era.

As Van Zandt looks back on his early solo career with the release of RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work, the creatively restless songwriter and musician has been busy with a slew of new releases including the recently released theatrical, Gene Kelly-inspired video for his song “Love Again” from his latest album, Summer Of Sorcery, and an exuberant live performance video of Bruce Springsteen’s “Tucson Train.” The video for “Love Again” stars Gino Cosculluela, a Top 4 finalist from the most recent season of FOX’s hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance, who performs skillful vintage-inspired dance sequences in front of rear-screen projections of some of the global landmarks Van Zandt sings about in the soulful, up-tempo number.

“I am honored that Gino chose us to be his first project after ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and I also want to thank my wife Maureen for suggesting I call Nigel Lythgoe who gave us his blessing and amazing positive energy,” states Van Zandt. “‘Love Again’ is one of my two Sam Cooke tributes on the album. It’s a fun little fiction about a character who has been burned by a relationship so he travels the world trying to distract himself only to find there’s no escape from the addiction of love! The video does an amazing job bringing this song to life in a whole new way.”

When Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul pulled in to Tucson, AZ on their U.S. tour this past September, Van Zandt and his 14 piece band paid homage to his longtime musical partner Bruce Springsteen with a live performance of his song “Tucson Train,” from his latest album Western Stars. Out now, the video, recorded September 15, 2019 at the Rialto Theatre, captures the rollicking band putting their rock n’ soul spin on the song for the first time. An additional performance of the song recorded a few days later on September 17, 2019 at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood, CO is also available to stream and download.

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul recently wrapped up two years of near constant touring, totaling 187 shows across North America, Europe, and Australia, with triumphant shows in Boston and New York where they brought the back-to-back Soulfire/Summer Of Sorcery world tour to an end with an epic concert that was filmed for future release.

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.