Issued just after his death from leukemia in the fall of 1984, Steve Goodman's Santa Ana Winds was the third release from his Red Pajamas record label following Artistic Hair and Affordable Art. It differed from those LPs in being a more polished, stylistically consistent work, rather like the albums Goodman had made for Asylum Records during the second half of the 1970s. Artistic Hair was a collection of live tracks, and Affordable Art mixed live and studio work, the arrangements ranging from full-band ensembles to solo performances. But Santa Ana Winds featured a band (dubbed "the Amazing Eclectos") throughout, and it was the closest thing to a country record Goodman ever made. Two songs, "Face on the Cutting Room Floor" and the rock & roll-styled "The One That Got Away" (repeated from the Asylum album High and Outside) were co-written by Goodman with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band members Jeff Hanna and Jimmy Ibbotson, while the country tearjerker "Fourteen Days," written solely by Goodman, featured Emmylou Harris. (Kris Kristofferson and Herb Pedersen also turned up as background vocalists.) "Hot Tub Refugee" had a bluesy style, but otherwise the tracks were in country-pop mode, and while Goodman could not resist leaning toward novelty material, his sense of humor was kept more in check than usual. The result was one of his safer albums, but not one of his better ones, a valedictory that emphasized his craftsmanlike qualities over his appealing eccentricity.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann