January 16, 2010 – 4:10 am

Don’t call him the next Bob Dylan. Steve Forbert wrote excellent songs and made great albums. It’s unfortunate he fell into that dark hole of under-appreciation.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

The Palladium 1979 [no label, 2CD]

Live at The Palladium, NYC, November 24, 1979. Ex FM stereo.

In the well-charted waters of the Nantucket shoals
Was a ship run aground full of oil, we were told
In a week’s worth of rough winter weather and waves
The boat started cracking and it could not be saved

It was seven-point-six million gallons this time
Consider the danger and think of the crime
As it poured out a slick stretching into the tide
Over one hundred-miles and yes, it came deep, it came wide

And it’s oil, oil
Oil pouring in the sea
Oil, oil

Oh, don’t buy it at the station
You can have it now for free
Just come on down to the shoreline
Where the water used to be

Steve Forbert wrote meaningful songs that rhymed and had catchy melodies. He also wrote a lot. The above The Oil Song went unreleased until 1993. At the Palladium in ‘79, Forbert was promoting his second album, Jackrabbit Slim. This concert contains almost all the songs from that album and his debut Alive On Arrival. Also included was The Oil Song and a couple more that didn’t see release until much later.

So how did so prolific a songwriter of exceptional songs fall into the cracks?

Wiki: “In 1984, Forbert had a disagreement with his record company (Nemperor), which apparently did not want to release a recording he made. The record was shelved, and contractual issues prevented Forbert from recording for a number of years afterwards.”

So for offending his record company, Forbert was send to Coventry. If the internet had existed then, Forbert might still have gotten his music out there. This live performance vindicates earlier appreciation of his singer-songwriter talent. It also reveals that he can rock. Just listen to his cover of Polk Salad Annie that closes this show and imagine the Chuck Berry-duckwalk that the DJ says Forbert does.

The album Forbert wanted to release is now called Down In Flames. It finally saw release by Forbert himself at the end of 2009. See the link at bottom of this page. Do yourself a favor, buy it.

With thanks to Bob MacFarland who recorded this radio show and kept the master in good shape after all these years. And to Rob Berger who did an excellent transfer to the digital medium and to jpciii for sharing it at the DIME. There were some comments that the tape speed may be a bit fast and some found the station IDs a bit intrusive but this is offered as it was broadcast back in 1979. After listening, I didn’t think the tape speed was an issue. It’s a crystal clear broadcast and in stereo.
- The Little Chicken

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Disc 1: 44:08
Track 101. DJ intro (1.0MB)
Track 102. Goin’ Down To Laurel * (7.0MB)
Track 103. Romeo’s Tune + (5.9MB)
Track 104. Grand Central Station March 18, 1977 * (6.7MB)
Track 105. I’m In Love With You + (9.8MB)
Track 106. Thinkin’ */ Band intros [station ID just after the song and before the band intro] (5.8MB)
Track 107. Complications + (8.3MB)
Track 108. Oh Camille (unreleased at the time. Found on 2001’s Young, Guitar Days) (4.8MB)
Track 109. Settle Down * [station ID just after the song] (6.8MB)
Track 110. In A Jailhouse Now (unreleased at the time. Found on 2001’s Young, Guitar Days) (5.9MB)

Disc 2: 68:22
Track 201. Schoolgirl ^ (4.8MB)
Track 202. Sadly Sorta Like A Soap Opera + [station ID just after the song] (6.6MB)
Track 203. What Kinda Guy? * (5.4MB)
Track 204. Wait + (7.6MB)
Track 205. Midsummer Night’s Toast * (4.8MB)
Track 206. The Sweet Love That You Give (Sure Goes A Long, Long Way) + [station ID just after the song] (6.2MB)
Track 207. It Isn’t Gonna Be That Way * (11.3MB)
Track 208. Baby + (8.7MB)
Track 209. Big City Cat * (5.2MB)
Track 210. The Oil Song (Found on 1993’s The Best Of Steve Forbert: What Kinda Guy?) (11.4MB)
Track 211. DJ (1.0MB)
Track 212. Say Goodbye To Little Joe + (6.4MB)
Track 213. You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play */ Polk Salad Annie / DJ outro (16.9MB)

* from Alive On Arrival (1978)
+ from Jackrabbit Slim (1979)
^ from Little Stevie Orbit (1980)

Steve Forbert - guitar, harmonica, vocals
Donny Thompson -guitar
Lou Whitney - bass
Paul Errico - keyboards
Bill Jones - saxophones and piano
Lloyd Hicks - drums

Steve Forbert has a new 3-CD album “Down In Flames”. It is his unreleased fifth album from 1983 with live and studio material from that period. Buy it here.

  1. 14 Responses to “UNDERRATED”

  2. The Oil Song was released as a bonus single with Jackrabbit Slim.

    By peter on Jan 16, 2010

  3. this show sounds great!

    By Dave on Jan 16, 2010

  4. I believe the “The Oil Song” was a bonus single with “Little Stevie Orbit,” not “Jackrabbit Slim”–and it’s too bad Forbert chose to release the song that way, since it’s better than nearly everything else on “Orbit.”

    Great show. Thanks a lot.

    By jb on Jan 16, 2010

  5. Real good show, even his hilarious, blundering, “In the Jailhouse Now”. I don’t play his stuff all that frequently, but when I do I always enjoy it. In a perfect world those radio announcers would be non existent. Thanks for the post.

    By Dave C. on Jan 17, 2010

  6. The band here is The Morrells, who later became the Skeletons, one of the greatest roots rock bands of all time. Plus, they had a great sense of humor.

    By Frank Sinatra on Jan 17, 2010

  7. This is wonderful; as you say, a truly underrated talent, caught here just coming to the boil first time round. Furthermore, no-one in the world plays harmonica like him! We’ve been lucky in the UK to have Mr.Forbert over here once a year or so lately, solo and with a band, always superb. Thanks very much for this!

    By Pete M. on Jan 17, 2010

  8. Sometime in the mid (late?) 80s, I found a cheap used copy of Forbert’s The American in Me CD. Had heard the name, had the $4 or so, and to this day this CD would be among the first I would grab if the house were burning down. I now own lots of his stuff, and he’s always great. Puts on a great show these days, too.

    thanks for this!


    By Brad on Jan 17, 2010

  9. Sound is great on this. I saw Forbert at Cornell in 1980 - and it was a revelation - the crowd was entranced. One of the two best shows I ever saw. This recording hints at how great he was (is?) Live. Thank you!

    By Snapper on Jan 28, 2010

  10. Good to see a Cornell memory here! I happened to miss him whenever he would come to Ithaca and Binghamton back when he had a hit; I don’t think I saw him until 1998 and I’d been a fan of the studio stuff since maybe 1990. Agreed, he is and apparently always has been a terrific performer - humble, talented, engages with the audience like the good guy he is. I have met him a couple of times and interviewed him by phone once; I remember he called me back a couple of times to clarify a quote that was bugging him. So add conscientious or thoughtful to his other good qualities.

    By Dan Aloi on Feb 3, 2010

  11. We must be from another planet. Just sitting here streaming Youtube Stevie. Haven’t heard him for years. Had an urge, a sudden moment (new Pope and for some reason I thought of Stevie Forbert).
    I am a radio jock who played Forbert to death and every single track I almost begged for folk to pick him up and give him a taste of the grandiose he so bloody well deserves. It is so sad and indeed sick, all the hype, publicity, money and indeed following so many many so-called artists get, who have not a gram of Forbert’s talent. What is it? So sad, I just can’t get anyone to agree with me apart from you guys.

    By geggyboy on Mar 14, 2013

  12. he`s too soft he`s like machine ice cream..too soft.

    By apple shnapps on Mar 14, 2013

  13. I’m not familiar with his music, but I’m looking forward to hearing this. Thank you.

    By Paul on May 26, 2013

  14. BigO- tracks 103, 109, 205, 212 and 213 download as html links, not mp3s. I tried refreshing the site, but that didn’t help. Any ideas?
    Thanks, as always!

    By Rick on Dec 30, 2015

  15. The show is great! Also, the DJ who introduces the concert, maligned in some of these comments, is legendary New York radio DJ Vin Scelsa. Vin retired from radio a year or two ago and it a huge treat to hear his voice, as well as his enthusiasm for Steve Forbert.

    By Steve on Feb 2, 2017

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