Steve Forbert may have been Alive on Arrival (the title of his 1978 debut), but it took him another 19 years to get around to releasing a live album. He dug into the vaults to do it, waxing a concert he recorded with his band, the Rough Squirrels, in a small Florida club back in 1987. "Yes there's some tape hiss here, some distortion," Forbert admits in the liner notes, but there are also performances that "more than make up for any technical imperfections." For the most part, that's true, although you do have to wade through a few throwaways to get to the goodies. Don't look here for "Goin' Down to Laurel" or many of Forbert's other best-known tunes; with a couple of exceptions -- most notably a great version of the midtempo "Song for Katrina," one of his best love songs -- this is an album of covers and obscurities, not greatest hits. There's a taste of the '50s (a cover of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin" and a tribute to Ritchie Valens that includes a snippet of his "La Bamba"), a nod to the Beatles ("One After 909"), and a surprisingly successful version of Tommy Roe's 1966 bubblegum hit "Sweet Pea." There's also ample evidence of Forbert's wacky sense of humor on "Everybody Does It in Hawaii," the yodel-spiced "Years Ago," and his own "What Kinda Guy?" Keep listening after the last listed track, and you'll hear an unadvertised bonus: affecting versions of "If You're Waiting on Me" and "You Cannot Win 'Em All," both of which first surfaced on Forbert's The American in Me album.
AllMusic Review by Jeff Burger