Music Reviews

Steve Forbert

Young, Guitar Days

Relentless Nashville

Young, Guitar Days is a twenty-song collection of out-takes, B-sides, and live tracks that roughly span the period covering 1978 to 1981, when Forbert made three classic albums for Nemporer Records. Despite the personnel and production changes along the way, it•s a remarkably consistent disc that displays why Forbert has been winning fans for twenty-five years.

The opening “It’s Been a Long Time” is a should have been hit with loping bass, pedal steel and harmonica backing up Forbert’s trademark personable raspy wheeze of a voice. On “House Of Cards,” he sings about hearing of the death of the “hillbilly singer who conquered the world,” Elvis Presley. Later on the record, he covers Presley’s “Suspicion” to good effect, with The Jordanaires providing backup. He also does a nice live acoustic cover of Jimmie Rodgers’ “In the Jailhouse Now” here.

“Lonesome Cowboy Bill’s Song” is funny, swinging, and full of character. And Forbert sounds equally comfortable on the honky-tonk piano tinged “The Weekend,” the impressive finger-popping mini-epic “Smoky Windows,” and a pair of life on the road anthems, “One Short Year Gone By” and “Get That Vagabond Feeling,” the latter of which sounds like vintage Bob Seger. But it’s on a trio of tracks from 1979 that Forbert truly shines. “Oh Camille,” “Witch Blues,” and especially “Poor Boy,” with its Springsteen-like sound, are as strong as anything Forbert has done.

Far from just a collection of leftover odds and sods, Young, Guitar Days is an engaging compilation of paths not taken and gems lost along the way. It all adds up to an alternate universe Best of Forbert.

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