Little Steven Van Zandt is taking a respite from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band with the release of Soulfire, his first solo effort in 18 years. Not a total break, mind you: Soulfire includes one song co-written with Springsteen, “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town,” along with others Van Zandt penned and produced for pals Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, such as “I Don’t Want To Go Home.” Still, we’re used to seeing and hearing Van Zandt not being Boss-ed around.Over the past 14 years, he’s hosted his Sirius XM radio channel Underground Garage and played Silvio Dante in HBO’s The Sopranos and Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano in Netflix’s Lilyhammer. What the jazzy, bluesy, brassy, blaxploitative, doo-woppy Soulfire does is return Van Zandt to the singing/sneering/writing role he led on solo albums such as the furiously and politically charged 1982’s Men Without Women and 1984’s Voice Of America, both precursors to his 1985 creation of music-industry activist group Artists United Against Apartheid.

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