Little Steven a.k.a. Stevie Van Zandt has announced the eagerly awaited CD/DVD edition of his acclaimed career-spanning box set, RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work (Wicked Cool/UMe). The 13-disc set collects all of the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s solo records between 1982 and 1999, including newly remastered editions of six classic albums: Men Without Women (1982), Voice Of America (1983), Freedom – No Compromise (1987), Revolution (1989) and Born Again Savage (1999), as well as the landmark protest record, Sun City (1985), by Artists United Against Apartheid, the supergroup of musicians brought together by Van Zandt, record producer Arthur Baker and journalist Danny Schechter, to fight racial injustice in South Africa. In addition, Men Without Women, Voice Of America, and Freedom – No Compromise will each be joined by an exclusive DVD featuring a classic full-length live concert video from the same era as the album.
The comprehensive collection, mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering, 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 studio gems, previously unavailable until the box set’s original vinyl release in December 2019. One of the many highlights is the rollicking title track that gives the collection its name. Van Zandt offers personal background and insight about the bonus tracks in the accompanying liner notes.
The CD/DVD box set of RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work will be available exclusively via the uDiscover music store on Friday, July 31; pre-orders are available now.
Long out-of-print on CD, all six albums will also be available globally as individual CD or CD/DVD editions, with Revolution and Born Again Savage both on sale now at all music retailers. Freedom – No Compromise arrives on Friday, July 10, joined by an 8-panel foldout poster and “Live At The Ritz 1987” concert DVD. Voice of America follows on Friday, July 17, paired with its own foldout poster and “Live at Rockpalast 1984” DVD. Sun City drops on Friday, July 24, followed by the release of Men Without Women – including a 16-panel fold out poster and “Live at Rockpalast 1982” DVD – on Friday, July 31.
To coincide with the release of RockNRoll Rebel, Van Zandt is making select performances from the live DVDs available on his official YouTube channel for the first time. Today sees the premiere of “Trail Of Broken Treaties,” featured on the “Live At The Ritz 1987” DVD included with the Freedom – No Compromise CD/DVD. Filmed live at New York City’s famed rock club The Ritz in 1987, the concert video, which originally aired live on Japanese TV, was mastered from the original video tapes never seen by the public while the audio was restored and mastered by Bob Ludwig, resulting in the best version anyone has ever seen or heard. Long traded amongst fans as a low generation VHS bootleg sourced from the in house screens, the performance shows Van Zandt coming into his own as a true frontman as he leads a killer Disciples of Soul lineup featuring Pat Thrall on guitar, T.M. Stevens on bass, Leslie Ming on drums and Mark Alexander on keys. “This was the only show that was filmed of that tour because it was live on Japanese TV so we’re lucky somebody caught it and now all these years later we can share this high-quality version,” says Van Zandt. “We happened to have a particularly good show that night. I kept changing direction in the ’80s but that show with that band was my rock peak. Of the song, Van Zandt says: ‘Trail’ was one of the two songs dedicated to Native Americans on my Freedom-No Compromise album, the other being ‘Leonard Peltier,’ an American Indian Movement activist that was tragically, wrongfully imprisoned. I’m currently on my fifth President trying to get him out. ‘Trail’ referred specifically to the ‘Trail Of Tears’ forced relocation of tens of thousands of Native Americans from the Southeast to across the Mississippi River following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, and symbolically to the hundreds of broken treaties with Native America.”
Taken together, the three concert DVDs in the box set, or also available on the individual CD/DVD album versions, provide a compelling document of Van Zandt and the band’s evolution with the 1982 Rockpalast concert marking only the second-ever Disciples of Soul show. “We were much bigger in Europe due to the political nature of our music and I also credit performing on the Rockpalast TV show in ’82 and again in ’84 that went live to 17 countries with helping to get our music to a massive audience,” says Van Zandt.” It was a blast revisiting these shows and I’m thrilled they are now being released for all to enjoy.”
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul made their spectacular debut with 1982’s Men Without Women, highlighted by a pair of rock radio favorites in the opening “Lyin’ In A Bed Of Fire” and “Forever,” the latter of which spent nine weeks on Billboard’s “Hot 100” while also receiving heavy rotation at the newly launched MTV. Van Zandt and the Disciples of Soul celebrated Men Without Women with sold out live dates including a legendary performance at NYC’s famed Peppermint Lounge that saw electrifying renditions of the album’s “Save Me” and “This Time It’s For Real” (written by Van Zandt and made famous by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes), both included on RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work.
Nearly four decades later, Van Zandt’s “Out Of The Darkness,” a standout from his album Voice Of America with its hopeful lyrics of “There’s a hunger can’t be satisfied/And the streets are filled with rage/It’s time to dig deep inside ourselves/And face the life we’ve made” sound as relevant as ever, and sadly could have been written about our current times. “As I said on tour back then and continue to say, we have entered a dark time in the history of our civilization, and not just in the USA, the problem is worldwide. Increased nationalism, isolationism, and religious extremism are nearly everywhere. Those of us who believe in the globalization of peace and prosperity must stick together and be prepared to non-violently fight for what we believe in for as long as it takes.”
A small quantity of the vinyl edition of RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work, released in December 2019, are still available exclusively via uDiscover. Limited to just 1,000 copies, the bespoke slipcase box set collects the six remastered albums across seven colored vinyl LPs alongside the same four CDs of rarities and bonus tracks. In addition, all six original albums are available individually via uDiscover on both 180-gram black vinyl and exclusive limited edition 180-gram color swirl vinyl mirroring the psychedelic platters included in the box set.
Notably, Born Again Savage is available individually on 2LP vinyl for the first time ever, while the recent vinyl reissue of Sun City, by Artists United Against Apartheid – the extraordinary supergroup brought together by Van Zandt, producer Arthur Baker and journalist Danny Schechter to fight racial injustice in South Africa – marks the landmark protest album’s first time on vinyl since its initial release 35 years ago. The long-out-of-print LP arrived earlier this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s historic release from a South African prison after 27 years in captivity. Van Zandt is donating all artist and publishing royalties from Sun City to the Rock and Soul Forever Foundation for the TeachRock.org music history curriculum.
All six Little Steven albums are also available digitally as individual Deluxe Editions, each expanded with the same rare and unreleased material from the era that make up the four discs of rarities in the physical collection. The Early Work, a special digital-only collection compiling 10 previously unreleased tracks of early rehearsals and live performances, is also now available. Also now available digitally is the rare 1985 three-song 12″ EP, Let Me See Your I.D., featuring the Extended Mix, Street Mix and Beat and Scratch Mix of the landmark “Sun City” single.