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Archive for February 8th, 2013

“Romeo’s Tune” and Beyond: Steve Forbert’s First Two Albums Reissued and Expanded

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Steve Forbert - Alive on ArrivalSteve Forbert’s 1978 debut on Nat Weiss’ Nemperor label proclaimed the singer-songwriter Alive on Arrival and indeed, the artist made a strong impression with a set of personal, sometimes gentle, musical reflections on life and love.  Forbert departed Mississippi for New York City in the mid-seventies when the city was hardly the family-friendly playground it is today, and managed to carve out a niche in the vibrant club scene of the day, playing famous venues like Gerde’s Folk City and even CBGB’s.  That heady period when Forbert was anointed yet another “new Dylan” (rather than, accurately, the original Steve Forbert!) was captured on Alive on Arrival and on Forbert’s 1979 follow-up, Jackrabbit Slim.  On March 26, Blue Corn Music, the Texas-based Americana specialist label, will reissue both of those seminal albums as a 2-CD set, adding a dozen rare bonus tracks.

Rolling Stone contributing editor (and Second Disc favorite) David Wild, in his liner notes, writes that Forbert made “one of music’s greatest entrances ever, arriving fully formed as an extraordinary singer-songwriter — a subtle troubadour for his times, and for all time too. Now or then, you would be hard-pressed to find a debut effort that was simultaneously as fresh and accomplished as Alive on Arrival . . . it was like a great first novel by a young author who somehow managed to split the difference between Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger.”  Steve Burgh, a session guitarist who played with Billy Joel, Phoebe Snow, David Bromberg and numerous others, was selected to produce Alive on Arrival.  A stellar cast of supporting players was assembled, including David Sanborn on alto saxophone.  Though the album showed great maturity and received critical acclaim, the decision was made to entrust its follow-up to a different set of hands.  Initially the choice was Joe Wissert (Gordon Lightfoot, Boz Scaggs, The Turtles), but Wissert soon decamped to work with Barbra Streisand.  His replacement, though, was more than sympathetic.  John Simon, renowned for his collaborations with The Band and Leonard Cohen, just to name two, stepped up, and shepherded Jackrabbit Slim to success.  Forbert credits Simon with helping him nail “Romeo’s Tune” for the Nashville-recorded album, and the song became the artist’s only Top 20 U.S. hit.  (It peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.)  The album sleeve dedicated the track to the late Supreme Florence Ballard.

What will you find on the upcoming reissues?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 8, 2013 at 10:01