Backstage in South Florida: Robert Goodman's Grab Bag

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Robert Goodman shares his personal top five.

A few weeks ago, I found myself writing about a new album from a band I had never heard of, Everything Is Beautiful by the Robert Goodman Band. It was one of those eureka moments in which I stumbled across a set of songs so bracing and so engaging that even on first hearing, it made further listens practically mandatory.

I'll give kudos to the man who produced, engineered, and mixed the album, Cliff Rawnsley Jr. But I also have to believe that Goodman, the man responsible for writing the songs, playing the keyboards, and singing lead vocals, showed some savvy. His colleagues -- guitarist Dave Rubinstein, bassist Rick Shepherd, and drummer Tim Moss -- are talented as well. Clearly, Goodman is a master of melody and a guy with an appreciation for genuine pop perfection. Consequently, I asked him to reflect on his influences via his picks for his top five favorite albums. Not surprisingly, he wasn't at all reticent to share them.

The Robert Goodman Band performs Friday, December 30, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at World of Beer, 101 N. Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Click here.

1. The Beatles -- Abbey Road

Goodman: "I was a preteen -- 8 or 9 years old -- when I heard my older brother playing this music. The sound drew me in and took me on a journey... Both my heart and soul were instantly connected to the vibe, the production, the arrangements, the melodies... It's like I automatically understood it, and I was hooked. Our stereo even way back then had a microphone you could plug in, so when I was left alone, I sang along and jammed with the Beatles."

2. The Beatles -- The White Album

"It was so trippy that even though I was a young boy, I felt a kinship to the Beatles. Every song was different, and I think that really influenced my ear as a singer and writer. I let the songs guide me when I write as I think the Beatles did. It's either natural or it's not real!"

3. Elton John -- Yellow Brick Road

"I was 10 or 11 years old, and I had just lost my older brother Carl to a hit-and-run driver in South Hampton, New York. I had an YBR eight-track and a pair of big padded headphones, so when "Funeral for a Friend" would come on, it was like I could commune with my brother. The music was lush and powerful, dark but uplifting. "Daniel" was also an important song -- Daniel my brother got on a plane to Spain, and I never saw him again. Elton John's music saved me and taught me a different dynamic and the importance of piano in pop music."

4. The Eagles - Hotel California

"In the '70s as a teenager, I was living That '70's Show in real life. This album brought home a sense of Americana rock for me. First of all, the Eagles had great songs, and they still do. The melodies and harmonies were so thick and rich; I would guess that they studied the Beach Boys and Beatles when they were young. I've always felt like I had a sense of the West Coast vibe. It's similar to the Southern vibe but a little more laid-back. But at the same time, it's got balls when it needs to."

5. Tears for Fears -- Sowing the Seeds of Love

"I was living in L.A. in the '80s when they came out with this awesome album. Though I love all of Tears for Fears' albums, including Roland [Orzabel]'s solo years in the '90s, Sowing the Seeds of Love brought a sense of the Beatles and love, peace, and deep thoughtful music back to the world music scene.

"This is one of those works of art that needs to be heard with a good set of headphones and time to ingest the textures. In fact, most LPs deserve to be heard from beginning to end. It's a shame that the music downloads have really set back the nature of an album being a complete work, something to be digested whole. It's hard for culture to progress when the artist is dissected from their work song by lonesome song!"

Goodman also adds, "I'd include among my runner-ups Elbow, U2, Seal, XTC, Jellyfish, among my faves!"

Good choices, all.

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Lee Zimmerman