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 which will be released on 31 July through 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.
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.”
A small quantity of the vinyl edition of RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work, released in December 2019, are still available exclusively via the uDiscover store. 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 on both 180-gram black vinyl and exclusive limited edition 180-gram color swirl vinyl mirroring the psychedelic platters included in the box set.
RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work is out on 31 July and can be pre-ordered here.