During the seventies, there was a debate raging about who will be the next Bob Dylan. Music weeklies and monthlies were constantly compiling their lists, with the names of Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Waits to be among the constants. One of those constants also was Steve Forbert. And while Springsteen and Waits made it big in their own way, somehow, Forbert seems to have remained in the realms of fandom.
The fact that he had a big hit (‘Romeo’s Tune’), an iconic album (‘Jackrabbit Slim’) and some twenty or so album releases up to now didn’t make much difference. Was it that his music (and lyrics) never amounted to the promise? Not really. Actually, Forbert always kept his promise of excellent music and words to match. That’s the ups and downs of being an artist for you.
Luckily, Forbert quite rightly never gave up. His latest studio album ‘Early Morning Rain’(2020) has sparked renewed interest in his best work, of which ‘Jackrabbit Slim’ should certainly be included. So Forbert has now come up with a live version of the classic titled ‘Jackrabbit Slim Live in Ashbury Park’. Is it an accurate rendition of the original?
Well, yes and no. Let’s start with a no. First of all, Forbert changed the order of the songs from the original album so as to adapt it for a live performance and the current times leaving ‘January 23-30’ until last, for example. He also played a version of ‘Complications’ which includes additional lyrics. And his voice has added that patina that comes up with age.
As for yes, live musicianship is as spot-on as it was back then, with the live feel added as a bonus. And most importantly of all, Forbert’s songs have not lost a single iota of their quality and importance in these modern times. The Forbert revival should start right here.