Steve Forbert

Young, Guitar Days

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Far from being a collection of second-rate unfinished songs, B-sides, and live tracks that didn't make the cut because they were subpar, Young, Guitar Days is a treasure trove of 20 terrific gems from Steve Forbert's early-'80s years that sounds as fresh and inspired as anything he's released. Not only a treat for established fans, there is also enough great music here to convince even newcomers of his remarkable talents. The singer/songwriter's voice and approach have changed little over the course of his career, so these songs -- all of which originate from the early '80s -- sound like recent recordings. From the good-time pedal steel-driven country & western of "The Weekend" to the appropriately bluesy slide guitar of "No Use Running From the Blues" to the impassioned cover of Terry Stafford's "Suspicion" (complete with '60s-styled backing vocals and an early indication of Forbert's love of AM radio fare that later resulted in his take on "When You Walk in the Room"), the styles are varied but still completely identifiable as emanating from Forbert's uniquely Americana-based approach. The sound is beautifully clear, exuding an airy unforced quality, as the performances brim with the youthful enthusiasm of an artist who has already found his voice and is excited about his future. The music is contagious in its rootsy joy and the songs stand as some of the best in his catalog. Since he wrote the liner notes and chose the tracks, it's clear that Forbert agrees, making this an essential addition to his discography and a wonderful collection of songs -- regardless of why they were left to languish in obscurity for almost 20 years between their recording and 2001 release.

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