Jonathan Edwards is not considered a "country" artist per se, probably due to the success of "Sunshine" from his 1971 self-titled debut, but on his follow-up to the Jonathan Edwards album, Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy, and some of his discs on Reprise, most notably Sailboat and Rockin' Chair, he is indeed that. Have a Good Time for Me is a departure from Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy in that the artist is covering music by three of the songwriters from the Castle Hill Publishing group, a company owned by co-producer Peter Casperson, who also managed Edwards. Without the original compositions that were the bulk of the previous release, Edwards has an opportunity to put his stamp on outside material, which he does so well. There's an excellent cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "Travelin' Blues," along with a lively, almost gospel rendition of the traditional "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder." The album starts off with longtime collaborator Eric Lilljequist's "Have Yourself a Good Time for Me," which would appear in a different form on Lilljequist's More Orphan Than Not album a year later. On that album, Edwards was pretty much a bandmember, his photo on the cover with the other musicians. Here, "Have a Good Time" is lighter and more introspective, a forlorn statement to a significant other who can't stay true, a perfect sentiment for country radio. "My Home Ain't in the Hall of Fame" sounds like Bostonian John Lincoln Wright, and one wonders had the two teamed up, how they might have decimated the country charts with hits. David Bromberg shows up on electric guitar, and the tune reappeared on Edwards' next album, the live Lucky Day, which actually has Orphan backing him up nine months after the recording of this LP. But it is in this context on Have a Good Time for Me where Edwards excels as an interpreter: "Something borrowed from the friends of gold" the singer writes in his poem inside the gatefold of an album. If you've had it in your collection for years, you may find strange white blotches appearing on the front and back cover; the singer explained that he demanded and got it released on recycled materials. Along with the poem, it is his calligraphy lettering inside and out, making for a very personal collection of material that didn't come from his pen, but does! Interesting indeed how he takes Malcolm McKinney's "Thirty Miles to Go" and makes it his own. McKinney contributes two titles here; Joe Dolce is represented with three; and Eric Lilljequist has four, including the title song. Dolce's "King of Hearts" has more of the pop flavor Edwards' fans from radio expect, the album working because the musicianship from Al Anderson, Bromberg, Stuart Schulman, Bill Keith, Lilljequist, Bill Elliot, and others blends in perfectly behind the singer. With the success of the Eagles at this point in time, one wonders why this album didn't do much much more. Perhaps it was too pure in its approach. It remains a very listenable and courageous work by an artist not content to clone past success but willing to follow his instincts.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione