You might ask "Steve Forbert, what happened?".
You're more likely to ask, "Who the fuck is Steve Forbert?".
These are valid things to ask but it's worth looking for an answer to either or both questions.
At the end of the 1970s Stevie Forbert was destined to become the next big thing but within five years his career was de-railed and never to be back on track.
He was the victim of a strange voodoo curse.
Well, my fourth glass of Bacardi premixed "Classic Cocktails Pina Colada infused with Coconut Water" leads me to believe it is a voodoo curse. It may be the alcohol but I think not 'cause it's healthy 'cause it's got a lot of fruit in it. "From the rum which inspired the creation of the original Pina Colada. Experience the classic creamy Pina Colada cocktail prepared with Bacardi Superior Rum, pineapple and coconut flavours."
And it's only 15% … though the fruit really does let you knock over a bottle really quickly.
I blinked and the fucker was gone.
Shit, this is easier to drink than Flor de Caña and lemonade.
Hold on, Steve Forbert.
The guy was called "the new Dylan" on his first couple of albums and the second did well with a top 40 in "Romeo's Tune" but that "new Dylan" tag is a weight that is hard to carry. It may not be a Bacardi fuelled voodoo curse but it is the kiss of death or perhaps, more charitably, a albatross around the neck. Of the many labelled "new Dylan" only Bruce Springsteen survived the tag and it took him till his third album to do it.
Forbert has put out a lot of good music but the, err, curse has doomed him.
Maybe if he had an Al Kooper, Band or was 20 years earlier it would be a different story but, cest la vie.
I was a kid but I loved his "Romeo's Tune" when it came out in the late 70s. A few years later after high school his music was a staple to my lazy Australian sunny suburban beer garden days in the inner west of Brisbane as much as Rodriguez or Jim Croce was …. thanks Buch and Luba.
Is it a coincidence that Keith Urban was playing those suburban pubs around Brisbane's west at the same time and has also covered "Romeo's Tune" ? (youtube it)
And now ….
Steve Forbert is not even remotely Caribbean in his outlook but his tales of loser, contenders, dreamers is good (or bad?) drinking music to a pre mixed Bacardi..
Read my other entries on this blog in relation to his other albums for background bio and the Dylan curse
Forbert had stalled (slightly) creatively on his third album. After his fourth album he ended up in a argument with his record label which stopped him from releasing another album for six years which is this one.
I've got a feeling I got this album at uni when I was reviewing records and I must have dismissed it (in part at least) as I tried selling it at record fairs (and I know that because I just took the $5 sticker off it). As I got older I realised that, rather than limiting my vinyl collection I should just get a bigger room …hence this albums reappearance.
And I'm happy I still have it.
Forbert here is in good form though any "new Dylan" tag should be replaced with a "new Springsteen" tag. He is too much of a folkie to rock out like Springsteen but on his ballads and mid-tempo songs he taps into the same US heartland music that Springsteen did at the time. Lyrically his tales are quite similar to Springsteen but Springsteen's beautiful uber passionate, romantic, optimistically, fatalistic (?) attitude is not reflected in Forbert. Forbert takes things at face value. What, perhaps, is most Springsteen-like is the chord progressions and production. This is a big sound – and not a big Springsteen sound 1988 but a big Springsteen sound circa "Born to Run" 1975 – bearing in mind that Forbert doesn't rock out like Springsteen.
Clearly that sound is the result of his producer Garry Tallent who is Springsteen's bass player in the Springsteen's E Street band.
The fact that Springsteen backing men Nils Lofgren and Ernest Carter play on a song each only confirms that.
There is no stylistic drama with that because Forbert and Springsteen both work on the same construction site and swing their picks only slightly differently.,
Bruce, though, reminds me of something specifically American. Forbert, not as good, but equally as interesting, is more melancholy and perhaps more universal.
Maybe it's the Bacardi but Steve Forbert reminds me of a simpler time.
Bacardi I drank as a youth, and still do, though in moderation. One of my uncles I was close to was a Bacardi drinker and , without fail, whenever I drink the same I think of him ( now passed) and simpler times. Forbert, also, I listened to all those years ago and now putting it on, it too, reminds me of those simpler times.
But that assumption is a little unfair to Forbert because his music is beyond that. Forbert's songs, whatever the production, are about people on the margins … they aren't winners but they are survivors. And it's hard not top be moved by them.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Running on Love – a big love song which is widely optimistic and quite catchy.
- Don't Tell Me (I Know) – a "our troubles are the same" song….
- I Blinked Once – a beautiful song about the passing of time.
Childhood often seemed a pain to me
So hard waiting to be grown
Childhood climbed up in a white oak tree
I blinked once and it was gone
- Mexico – Mexico still exerts an influence on Americans wanting to escape to times past.
- As We Live and Breathe – a good example of Springsteen instrumentation coupled with Forbert's sensibility. It works.
- On the Streets of This Town – More Springsteen type sentiment and gently reflective
- Hope, Faith and Love – a beautiful song about the need of the title words
- Perfect Stranger – another love song …he must have met someone
- Wait a Little Longer – Forbert's most rock song on this album
- Search Your Heart – a gentle reflective ballad.
Strip this down and this would be Americana of the highest order. As it is this is still a good album …. I'm keeping it.
Nothing no where
Running on Love
Live on Letterman
I Blinked Once
As We Live and Breathe
On the Streets of This Town
http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/House-of-Cards-lyrics-Steve-Forbert/8C27F352425C8E0348256DA300077F3F or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db80VRiD5l0