Steve Goodman

Hot Spot

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Hot Spot, Steve Goodman's seventh album overall, was also his fifth LP on what presumably was a five-record deal with Asylum Records. The first two albums on that deal had grazed the bottom of the charts and the next two had missed the charts entirely; Hot Spot may have constituted Goodman's last shot with a big label. He used that shot to try for a pop hit. The sound of the disc was very much in keeping with the style of pop/rock purveyed in Los Angeles recording studios in the late '70s and early '80s, an adult contemporary, radio-ready commercial approach that mixed in occasional disco rhythms and strings ("Bobby Don't Stop") with power ballads that often were arranged as duets ("Sometimes Love Forgets," featuring Phoebe Snow). The lyrical subjects ranged from romantic regret to romantic recrimination, and the overall effect was uninterruptedly smooth. Of course, that's not what one necessarily expected from Steve Goodman, the eclectic singer/songwriter, and he didn't really do it very well, sounding for the most part very restrained, even if he had written or co-written most of the songs. The session musicians were not among L.A.'s A-list, except for guitarist Jeff Baxter, but they came close enough. Still, one listen to "Sometimes Love Forgets," on which Snow turned in a typically memorable performance while Goodman just sounded embarrassed, indicated that this was a case of an artist trying, in a perfunctory manner, to be something he clearly was not. It wasn't until the last track, the jazzy novelty "Sdrawkcab Klat (Talk Backwards)," that it sounded like anybody was having any fun at all. And by then it was really too late. Not surprisingly, Hot Spot turned out to be Goodman's final major-label release.

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