Steve Forbert’s voice and style have become so distinctive that he sounds great on this tribute to country pioneer Jimmy Rodgers, even as he rasps out yodels. Forbert has always been a stylist and great songwriter, so it’s fun to hear him do someone else’s songs. He, of course, labored under the “new Dylan” label for awhile early in his career. In fact, here in the Twin Cities, about ten years ago, I heard him savage a disc jockey who brought that up. It was a live, in-studio appearance, with Forbert singing and being interviewed. After the first song, the disc jockey asked him about the “new Dylan” label, and Forbert ripped him a new one. It was the most uncomfortable couple of minutes I had heard on radio in quite some time. He eventually did another song, but didn’t seem real happy about it.
Anyway, as you’d expect, this one features songs like “Waiting on a Train,” “Any Old Time,” “Miss the Mississippi and You,” and “Blue Yodel #9,” along with others. Throughout, Forbert is in fine voice, leading a skilled bunch of music vets like Bobby Lloyd Hicks, Gary Tallent (who co-produced with Forbert and Tim Coats), Bobby Ogdin, and Bill Hullett in these interpretations.
Guitar-wise, the best moments belong to Hullett on “Any Old Time,” where he plays a very swinging, jazzy solo and to Will Kimbrough on “My Rough and Rowdy Ways,” which turns into a romp-and-stomp rocker. “My Carolina Sunshine Girl” is the perfect way to wrap this one up. A nice ballad with a killer dobro solo from Hullett.
Fans of both Rodgers and Forbert will like this one. It’s a reverent, but very fun tribute to one of the true pioneers of country.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.