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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Steve Forbert - Jackrabbit Slim

Name: Steve Forbert
Album: Jackrabbit Slim
Year: 1979
Style: Smoothly Produced Singer Songwriter Folk-Pop
Similar Bands: Daniel Johnston, Airwaves, Flyer, Paul Simon,
"One-Word" Review: winnie-the-pooh-on-zoloft
Based Out Of: Meridian, Mississippi
Label: Nemperor, CBS
Jackrabbit Slim - Cover & Sleeve
Jackrabbit Slim - Back & Record

Jackrabbit Slim (1979)
  1. Romeo's Tune 3:28
  2. The Sweet Love That You Give (Sure Goes A Long, Long Way) 3:35
  3. I'm In Love With You 4:47
  4. Say Goodbye to Little Jo 3:52
  5. Wait 5:31 /
  6. Make It All So Real 5:54
  7. Baby 4:12
  8. Complications 3:41
  9. Sadly Sorta Like A Soap Opera 3:41
  10. January 23-30 1978 4:37
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands
Steve Forbert - Vox, Guitar, Harmonica
Bobby Ogdin - Piano (Ween)
Paul Errico - Organ, Accordian
Jon Goin - Lead Guitar
Alan Freedman - Guitar
Roger Clark - Drums
Gunnar Gellote - Drums
Bob Wray - Bass
Jack Williams - Bass
Jerry Bridges - Bass
Mike Leech - Bass
Bill Jones - Sax
Ron Keller - Trumpet
Dennis Good - Trombone
Shoals Sisters - Backing Vox
Gene Eichelberger - Recording Engineer
Willie Pevear - Asst Enginner
Jimmy Stroud - Asst Engineer
Connie Potter - Asst Engineer
Don Puluse - Mix
George Marino - Mastering
John Simon - Producer (The Band)
Paula Scher - Design
Benno Friedman - Photography

Unknown-ness:
I had never heard of Forbert, But from the date of the album 1979, and the album’s simple rock n’ roll design, I thought this record might have some kinda quirky new wave potential. The album title and image of the jackrabbit on the back give hints that it could be a bit country, but it was worth taking a chance. Leather jackets, like the one on the cover are usually a good sign. After lookin at the liner notes, I recognized Bobby Ogdin's name from the name mention in Ween's live version of Mr. Richard Smoker. Sure enough, same guy!

Album Review: “Romeo's Tune” introduces the album with some midwestern pop piano. The vocals are slight and pleasant. The organ plays a prominent part for the backing atmosphere. It is a catchy poppy song, the vocal melody rolls up and down along the music. This is supposedly his hit, and I can see its place and potential popularity for its time. I’ve read that he was called the next gen’s Dylan, but I for his singing style, I don’t see much in the sound. Perhaps the way he carries his voice along the music is similar to Dylan, but his voice is far more pleasing. “The Sweet Love That You Give (Sure Goes A Long, Long Way)” already shows diversity, with its horn section, and the tempo is a little more aggressive, but still its just as catchy and poppy. He sounds like a more confident Daniel Johnston, and has fun with his music. Occasionally his voice will crack, but not in an off putting way. Instead it makes him more personal or relatable. Like when a professional musician bashfully makes a mistake live, the audience still applauds, if anything, more than usual for carrying on. “I'm In Love With You” is a slow ballady song with strings and quiet and slightly raspy vocals, which make him sound a bit like the voice from Winnie The Pooh. The Nashville production dabbles in country style with a slide guitar and slow tempo. “Say Goodbye to Little Jo” begins with a slow-tempo’ed vocals only section, setting up the melodic hook for the chorus with a backing harmonizing choir. But the piano and guitar picks up as do the vocals. In this song, he really sounds like a more confident Johnston / Pooh. When the piano/guitar/drums all match up in the chorus’s hook, they come off sounding very powerful. The song also takes advantage of musical pauses that are accented by the vocals, right before the music kicks back in. The choir comes back, making adding a gospel element to the bluesy rock/pop song. “Wait” goes back to a slower tempo song. His vocal melodies often start up high and flow over the scale/ course of the verse to low. It is a very pleasant and reliable trick that shows the singer’s range and songwriting ability. The song features the choir of harmonizing vocals again, adding the church-room singing feel ever so slightly, amongst the harmonica and smooth production pop-rock of the era.

“Make It All So Real” starts side two with a sax on display. The ragtime hobo-slacker lite-stomp of this story song delightfully breezes by, like a campfire sing along. Each captivating verse is dedicated to the progression of a sad situation where a band’s singer’s girl talks to other guys in the crowd. “Baby” has a slow start, and his Pooh impression is at its peak here, it is as if he’s singing the whole album from start to finish and his voice is deteriorating into raspiness overtime. This slow folky tune has peaks and valleys of energy and emotion, but mostly it is a solemn journey. “Complications” is a bouncy piano, slightly rag-time upbeat ditty. If I did not know better, I’d say this has a sort of care free island/reggae vibe to it. The guitar and harmonica trade off to end the song. “Sadly Sorta Like A Soap Opera” is like a slow doo-wop dance song with the prominent bass and guitar style. But as soon as the vocals start, it transfers to a folk story ballad. Even the organ sounds like it was meant to be something other than a folk song. The song winds down with a harmonica and hymn like humming over that church organ sound. “January 23-27 1978” is supposedly a journal song. Its bouncy honky tonk style is set off by the bass, harmonica, and jangley guitar. It is a pleasant song, and it feels like this (and all songs) that Forbert is right there in the room with you singing to a small collection of friends while you sip your whiskey and cider from a handmade wooden bucket and rope jug.

Stand-Out Track: Say Goodbye To Little Jo

Links:
Allmusic
Wikipedia
Official Website
Fan Site
ASCAP Portrait
The Forbert Association Game
Interview
Myspace
Fan Blog Site

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