The things men without women do, you just don't understand..
Peter Walenta | Long Island, New York USA | 04/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You've all heard of Steve Van Zandt, co-founder of the E Street Band and (nearly) lead guitarist with that band along with Bruce Springsteen from 1973 to 1984. OK...so you've all heard and seen the video for the song penned by Little Steven, "Sun city" and recorded by a bunch of politically active musicians under the monniker of Artists United Against Apartheid back in 1985?...OK, then you've all seen Steve Van Zandt as Silvio Dante on the HBO series the Sopranos?...OK...
Well, before most all of that and just before he left the fabled E Street Band, Miami Steve Van Zandt cut a record called "Men Without Women" which, when released in December 1982, went straight off of the charts in no time and was totally forgotten about...by everyone...except...Except by those of us who dug the Jersey Shore sound, popularized by Bruce as well as by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. Re-issued as a single album compact disc in the early 1990's on the fabled Razor & Tie label (this one which happily is still in print) and later re-issued as a two-fer on the fabulous U.K. label BGO (Beat Goes On...also still in print), you can hear again or listen to for the first time, all of the steamy soul, all of the great horn charts, all of Steve's strained Keith Richards-like vocals and those killer Stones-influenced riffs that make this a truly special album that stands up well and sounds fresh over 25 years after its' release. At the time, the only professional music writer I can recall who was talking the album up was Dave Marsh. Marsh wrote a very favorable review of "Men Without Women" in a December 1982 issue Rolling Stone and also a full page feature review in the short lived but quite informative "Record" magazine that had a brief but illustrious publication run from 1980-1984(?).
Van Zandt's song writing on this record is superb, further mining themes and subjects that he wrote about on the classic 1978 Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes' album "Hearts of Stone". And there's only a hint of his political leanings that would later dominate most all of his later songs. No, this solo debut record by Little Steven deals with breakups, failed relationships, street deals as well as compromises, growin' up, and the loss of familiar things and places that were meaningful to the singer and his girlfriend(s) in younger years. Lots of good love gone bad stories are here. Van Zandt's chief limitation was his singing, but even that is overshadowed by the heartfelt delivery both he and his "Disciples" give on all 10 songs here. If you can wrap your ears around Steve's vocals, you will be rewarded with a fierce soul-influenced rock album that stands up to many of the more acknowledged best rock albums of the 1980's. Plus, if you spring for the two-fer on BGO, you get Stevie's 1984 record "Voice of America", which is as rocking as "Men Without Women" but takes on decidedly more contemporary and a few timeless (at the time) political themes to cover.
All in all, "Men Without Women" ia a great listen for those who like the Jersey shore pub rock & soul style a la Stone Pony, but I also recommend this record to anyone just wanting to kick off their shoes and dance or to listen to while cruising down the highway! Get spring going with this neat re-issue, or if you're still afraid of the water, just download the song "Under the Gun" from "Men Without Women" and see if you can tell who was doing the Rolling Stones better than the Rolling Stones in 1982! Steve's pointing his finger right at you with these songs so get your blue-eyed soul and rock groove fix right here already! A solid 4 Stars."
One of the greatest records you never heard
Kentucky Boy | 04/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I fell in love with the single, "Forever," the first time I heard it and thought the album was even better. I played this record so much, I just assumed everyone else was into it, too. It wasn't like anything else on the radio, which is probably why it barely cracked the charts. Still, it has terrific songs ("Princess of Little Italy" is a gem), lots of musical muscle, lots of heart, and lots of brains, too. There's some great songwriting on this record, some great imagery. Don't buy it because you like Springsteen. Don't buy it because you like "The Sopranos." Buy it because it's great."