Friday is Boss’ Day: E-Street Detours
Bruce Springsteen used to be notorious for taking a long time between albums. Three to four years was usually the norm. This gave members of the E Street Band (and Bruce himself) the freedom to explore other options. Here are just a few:
Gary U.S. Bonds – At one time Gary Anderson (who changed his name to Gary U.S. Bonds after a record company sent his first disc to radio stations with the headline “Buy U.S. Bonds”) was so hot he was a headliner above newcomers The Beatles on a 1963 tour. Bruce and Little Steven (both of whom had grown up on Bonds hits like “Quarter to Three”) met Bonds in 1980. The three became fast friends and Bruce and Stevie produced Bonds’ comeback album, Dedication, in 1981 which included the hit “This Little Girl.” The pair also went on to produce On the Line a year later. Both are excellent rock and roll CDs, and hard to find.
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes – Southside Johnny is a poor man’s Bruce Springsteen. The Boss has contributed numerous tunes to Southside’s career such as “The Fever,” and “All the Way Home” to mention a few. Little Steven was behind the boards for most of Southside’s albums including the critically acclaimed Hearts of Stone. “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town,” from the Jukes’ second LP, is a Springsteen-Van Zandt co-write.
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul – Little Steven’s always called himself a “band guy.” The Springsteen consigliere stepped out in front on his first album, Men Without Women, in 1982, and actually left the E Street Band to tour in support of Voice of America in 1984. Van Zandt has a great soulful voice and it really comes out in his solo work. His tunes are often highly political, but usually groovin’. Both CDs are excellent if you can find them.
Killer Joe – In the early 1990s Mighty Max Weinberg anchored this unit along with guitarist/trumpeter Mark Pender and the Vivino brothers, Jimmy and Jerry. Scene Of The Crime is a slick R&B effort highlighted by the Springsteen-penned instrumental, “Summer On Signal Hill.” A chance meeting on a NYC street with talk show host-to-be Conan O’Brien led to Weinberg’s assembling the Max Weinberg 7 in 1993 with some of his old Killer Joe buds. Check out the self-titled 7 album on Hip-O Records, it’s a hoot.
The Red Bank Rockers – Clarence Clemons has always been asked to participate on other records and he’s played on a few big hits (“You’re A Friend Of Mine” with Jackson Browne, “Freeway Of Love” by Aretha Franklin). He also had a solid solo career in the mid-1980s, releasing some successful albums under the Red Bank Rockers moniker. Bruce chipped in to the effort by writing the single “Savin’ Up” for the Red Bankers’ second album.