Irwin Goodman (a.k.a. Antti Yrjö Hammarberg) was a Finnish folk music star. Many legendary tales and rumours about Irwin Goodman are still in circulation, some of them true, some of them not. But we can know for sure that Irwin did not rise to fame alone. His partnership with the lyricist Veikko "Vexi" Salmi was essential to his success.
The Rentun Ruusut 4CD box set is a pretty comprehensive, great collection of Irwin Goodman's best-known songs ("Irwin Goodmanin Parhaat" is Finnish and means "The Best of Irwin Goodman"). This collection consists of years 1965-1990, and as the title suggests, it contains many well known classics, but also some lesser known songs.
To the best of my knowledge, the material is presented at least roughly in the chronological order. The opinions are divided about which periods were Irwin's best. Quite obviously, that is a matter of personal preference, and I know people whose preferences vary in this respect. Some prefer the clear, almost boy-like tone of the early Irwin Goodman in the 1960s and the early the 1970s. Others prefer the later periods, where Irwin's voice was gradually transformed to become more rough. The change was due to smoking cigarettes and heavy use of alcohol. However, there is no need to take sides. Personally, I like the earlier period best, but I can still appreciate the roughness and brutal honesty of the latter period too.
Throughout Irwin's career, both he and Vexi pissed off many authorities, mainly because of Vexi's often provocative lyrics. Some songs were censored and some were outright banned, denying all radio play. The regular people of Finland have always loved Irwin and Vexi, though. It is fair to say that Irwin's career had its ups and downs, but overall, his popularity as a folk hero was always there. Even when Irwin was not actively touring or recording, the existing songs became classics and the records sold pretty well.
Irwin Goodman deserves credit not only for his singing, but also for his compositional skills. Curiously enough, not even all fans of the man know that Irwin himself composed many of his greatest hits. My personal Irwin Goodman absolute favourite is Mieletön Maailma ("Insane World"), the ending song of the disc 1. I also love the classics such as Reteesti Vaan, Työmiehen Lauantai, Ei Tippa Tapa, Ryysyranta and Meni Rahahommat Pieleen.
If you are interested in Irwin Goodman, but do not want to spend money buying separate albums (there are many), this 4CD box set is very good for you. In addition, I recommend Irwin Goodman's and Esa Pakarinen's fantastic duet album Lonkalta (1971).