Most folks think of the pedal steel guitar as being strictly part of the country music tradition, though some also point to the instrument’s use in Hawaiian and sacred steel gospel music. But Joe Goldmark is on a lifelong quest to show that the steel guitar can be used for any type of music.
An eclectic virtuoso, Goldmark has recorded steel versions of the Grateful Dead’s “China Cat Sunflower” Fastball’s “The Way”, standards such as “Harlem Nocturne”, and an entire album of Beatles covers. He continues his all-inclusive approach here, tackling Otis Redding’s “These Arms Of Mine”, the gospel tune “Walk Around Heaven”, and Nick Lowe’s “Peace, Love And Understanding”.
Goldmark makes a convincing case for the supremacy of steel. The backing musicians (drums, keyboards, bass, guitar, horns) are solid if unspectacular. By the time you get to the twelfth cut, Eric Clapton’s “Presence Of The Lord”, you’re so attuned to the steel guitar as lead that the conventional electric guitar solos by Garth Webber seem an intrusion.
Goldmark is also a fine songwriter, penning eight originals here, including the compelling country rocker “Fog City” and the swampy toe-tapper “Sensitive Like Bull”. And he provides intriguing liner notes, crediting Willie Mitchell with an inventive arrangement of the jazz classic “Take Five”, retitled as “Take Four” and delivered as a surf/lounge excursion. The only song with vocals is a cover of Charlie Rich’s “Lonely Weekends”, and it provides ample evidence that Goldmark should avoid singing outside his shower.