Steve Goodman

REVIEW: Steve Goodman “The Best of Steve Goodman”

Reviews

Steve Goodman – The Best of Steve Goodman

The late singer John Prine always spoke highly of his late friend the Chicago singer-songwriter Steve Goodman. While many aren’t familiar with Goodman’s name he’s responsible for writing & originally recording the classic train song Arlo Guthrie made famous, if not memorable – “City of New Orleans.”

There have been several reissues of Goodman’s work but never a comprehensive collection of many of his classic songs.

Johnny Cash admired & covered his work (there’s a letter written by Cash that supports that in the CD). Steve was a guest on Cash’s 1982 HBO special Johnny Cash’s America.

Like songwriters of the caliber of Prine, Gordon Lightfoot, Tim Hardin, Tom Paxton, Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark, Jim Croce & Harry Chapin – Goodman was a productive original, prolific, & creative. He belongs in that elite club. He mined an area of song that few touched.

“The City of New Orleans,” many believe is a song about New Orleans. Not so. It’s the name of a train, a real train. Everything Steve describes is authentic. These 19-career-spanning songs include previously unissued versions of classics, demos, covers, studio recordings, & live tunes.

The Best of Steve Goodman (Drops Nov 5-Omnivore/BMG) was produced for release by Grammy-winner Cheryl Pawelski & mastered by Grammy-winner Michael Graves with approval from the Goodman estate.

Among memorable songs Goodman recorded are “The Dutchman,” (radio session – written by Mike Smith), “You Never Even Call Me By My Name,” (co-written with Prine), a great cover of John Prine’s own “Souvenirs,” with Prine himself. “Video Tape,” (recorded in 1977 in England with David Amram (instruments), Vin Scelsa (sax) & Goodman (guitar/vocals).

Many songs are recorded & captured remarkably well. The live “Chicken Cordon Bleus,” is humor with an energetic Goodman. The display is a solid hint at the possibility that Steve could’ve been a great blues singer – if he was serious. Some of his best humorous songs have to do with his beloved pastime – baseball. There’s “Lincoln Park Pirates,” & Goodman’s classic, the excellent “Go Cubs Go.”

The live “This Hotel Room,” has moments where I think Steve is imitating the vocalizing acrobatics of the late Tim Buckley (“Sally Go Round the Roses”). On “Banana Republic,” there’s a Jimmy Buffet island feel.

Included is an 8-panel insert that details music critic Lee Zimmerman’s liner notes. The inside front cover has good details about where songs were performed or recorded (if known). Some have musicians listed, others not. Many songs were originally produced by Steve Goodman & date as early as 1977.

“Face on the Cutting Room Floor,” is near the CD conclusion & boy oh boy — it’s one of the best songs on the CD. From his LP “Santa Ana Winds.”

For Steve Goodman completists & aficionados only? No. Anyone who enjoys good songwriting & singing will like this. If it’s any indication in his live songs Steve Goodman was a wonderful entertainer.

The 1 hour-14 minute CD is available @ https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/best-of-steve-goodman/

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