Steve Forbert - guitar, vocals; D. Clinton Thompson - lead guitar; Paul Errico - piano; Lou Whitney - bass; Bobby Lloyd Hicks - drums
A Mississippi troubadour who made his way to New York City in the mid-1970s, Steve Forbert's skillfully crafted songs and unique voice eventually earned him the same adulation and uphill battle that Bruce Springsteen faced - being written up in the press as "the new Bob Dylan." Like Springsteen, this was only true on the most superficial of levels. He did play acoustic guitar and harmonica and he had a way with words, but Forbert's early albums established him as no mere imitator. His first, Alive On Arrival, released in 1978, proved Forbert to be a skilled storyteller armed with songs that reflected a young dreamer. Forbert's southern romanticism and bittersweet innocence made for an idiosyncratic folk-pop style that has served him well to the present day. His second album, Jackrabbit Slim, which contained the hit "Romeo's Tune," would established Forbert's reputation as one of the most talented new singer-songwriter's of that era.
This recording, originally broadcast nationally on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, captures Forbert early on. Containing four classic songs from his debut album as well as two songs that would be unreleased until decades later, this not only shines a light on Forbert as he originally was - a solo singer songwriter, but also displays his talent as a bandleader, with a more pop persona.
The recording begins with "Song For The South (Time's Gonna Take Me Back)" and "Steve Forbert's Moon River," two songs that wouldn't see the light of day until the release of Young, Guitar Days, a collection of outtakes and demos released many years later. These cuts showcase Forbert's earliest music, when the comparisons to the pre-electric music of Dylan still had some validity. "What Kinda Guy" points in nearly the opposite direction, with its happy-go-lucky feel and clever lyric construction. Stripped of the embellishments on the studio version, this solo acoustic rendition is more immediate and engaging.
The last two songs feature the band joining Forbert onstage, beginning with a delightful new arrangement for "Thinkin'," one of Forbert's most undeniably catchy songs. The intelligence of the lyrics and the new pop-style arrangement is infectious from the start, thoroughly engaging the audience. This also features a particularly nice piano break from Paul Errico. The recording concludes with "Goin' Down To Laurel," another impressive track from the debut album. Much like Springsteen's best work, this song reflects Forbert's unique background, sharing what he personally knows and lives. Although he sings of returning to a "dirty stinking town" where he knows what he'll find, Forbert remains upbeat and positive. This boundless optimism permeates this set and is a key ingredient to Forbert's uniqueness and appeal.