It Sure Looked Good On Paper
Keeping The Flame Alive.
For a man who died so very young; Steve Godman appears to have left a fabulous legacy and goldmine of songs in his back catalogue.
This latest release from those fine folks at Omnivore Records is a rather loving look at a bunch of demos, rarities and oddities long forgot by even his most ardent fans.
It’s obviously no surprise that City of New Orleans opens the album; only as a band demo; not that you would know it, as it sounds fully formed and staggering in its beautiful complexity and observational detail; and its no wonder that it has become a timeless American Classic as the years have gone by.
OK there will be some pedant reading this who will tsk at my next sentence; but what follows; including a bunch of demos is all new to me and therefore; I can and will treat this as a brand new album ….. which it is.
While fundamentally ‘of his time’, Goodman’s style is genuinely timeless and if you didn’t know better Yellow Coat, Kiss Me Goodbye Again and The Water Is Wide are all as astute and sharply observed as anything I hear from Millennial songwriters that grace the RMHQ turntable, yet were written and recorded over 40 years ago.
Of the oddities here, the charming Face on The Cutting Room Floor was written, but not used in the film Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid; and that title track is here too; plus there’s the stupendously atmospheric Six Pack, originally cited for a Kurt Russell film but has remained hidden until now …… and the world is a better place because of it; and if you are an Alt. Country Band looking for a ‘hit’ ….. look no further my friends.
As there are 20 songs here I can’t discuss each and every one; but Climb the Hills to The Dale, The Dutchman and The Auctioneer certainly deserve to mentioned ‘in despatches’.
This then brings me to my choice of Favourite Song.
The class and quality that Steve Goodman brings to everything here; even the demos makes this quite difficult, but I’ve narrowed it down to three; the title track alone ‘tickled me’ and the half-baked song itself lives up to the title; and the band ‘demo’ Hands On Time, yet again surpasses many songs of a similar ilk I’ve heard from so called ‘stars’ of more recent years.
Then; there is the song that I played first simply because the title appealed to me … Eight Ball Blues; and (again) it not just lived up to; but surpassed its billing.
Phew; why was this not a #1 hit? It’s every inch as good as anything I’ve heard from the same period (Paxton? Chapin? Ochs? Rush?) or beyond; and better than most, with Goodman’s articulate observations and use of metaphor as good as anything his peers ever managed in their homes on Millionaires Row.
As I said earlier there’s a lot here that today’s singer-songwriters can learn from and for bands to dip into and utilise for their own nefarious gains; but also to keep the Steve Goodman memory alive and well in the 21st Century.
Released May 14th 2021
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