Steve Goodman was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, and just 11 days after his death in September 1984, the Cubs made it into the National League playoffs, something that never happened in his lifetime. With similar luck, Goodman won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album following the release of 1987's Unfinished Business, a set of live takes, unreleased studio recordings, and radio sessions that his manager Al Bunetta compiled and released posthumously. Unfinished Business was in many ways similar to 1983's Artistic Hair and 1984's Affordable Art, two late-period Goodman albums that mixed material from various sources and time periods. All three albums show off the wide range of Goodman's talents as a songwriter and performer, and on Unfinished Business, he gracefully embraces the complex emotions of "In Real Life," the eager silliness of "Don't Get Sand in It," and a bit of both at the same time on "God Bless Our Mobile Home." Goodman could attack the rockabilly grooves of "Millie Make Some Chili" and wrap himself up in the evocative acoustic tones of "Colorado Christmas" and sound like a masterful performer in either context. And Goodman wasn't by his nature a flashy guitarist, but on his interpretations of "The Dutchman" and "My Funny Valentine," he accompanies himself with confidence and style. Unfinished Business is full of fine moments and this material most certainly merited release, but it also feels a bit less satisfying than Artistic Hair or Affordable Art; "Don't Get Sand in It" was one of the sillier moments in Goodman's repertoire, and while the performance of "The Dutchman" featured here is splendid, it's also a song that had appeared on more than one Goodman album before this. But the aptly titled Unfinished Business is a testament to the unpretentious genius of Steve Goodman, and if there are better introductions to his work, nearly every track is one nearly any musician would be proud to have in their catalog, and it will bring joy to anyone who ever loved his music.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming