Marty Stuart and His Fabulous
our score: 4.5 out of 5.0
Ain't (#1 on the Country Charts), It Ought'a Be
by: matt cibula
Stuart's last album was one of the finest country records EVER
RELEASED, a lovely mysterious big-hearted work of art concept
record called The Pilgrim. But it turned out that country
fans didn't want anything like that back then, and it didn't sell
more than a few copies—unfair, unconscionable, but what
are you gonna do? That's the ugly part of the music business.
So what do you do when you hit it out of
the park but they don't let you circle the bases? Well, you do
what Stuart did: you take some time off, get a crackin' young
band together (well, two of the three bandmembers are young),
and get yourself out on a barnstorming tour of the some of the
most out-of-the-way venues in America. (This is all detailed on
the accompanying DVD.)
when you get that band back into the studio, you make a simple
album that's actually not simple at all—one that sounds
like regular country music, but is shot through with soul and
rock and rockabilly touches laid in so gracefully and tastefully
that no one complains when you call the whole damned thing Country
Music. Stuart and his band just simply cook through twelve
songs in forty minutes, and they do so in fine back-to-the-roots
The opening tune, "A Satisfied Mind,"
is a great example of the recurrent "mo' money, mo' problems"
strain in pop, a patient and measured justification for not hitting
the big time. But it is with "Fool For Love," a Stuart-cowritten
western smooth-jam with beautiful doo-wop harmonies in the chorus,
that the record really takes off. By the time we get to the first
uptempo number, the sorta-kinda-almost-rap number "If It
Ain't It Ought'a Be," you really start to have a feel for
who Marty Stuart is: a nice guy who wishes he had been born 20
years before he actually was, and really really wants people to
like his music.
His charisma is actually just old-fashioned
charm—listen to the way he slugs it out with Merle Haggard
on the touching "Farmer's Blues." Anyone who thinks
that this is kind of a rip of Hank Williams Sr.'s "Lonesome
Whistle" is probably right, but it's just an homage after
all, especially when Hag says "Yodel, boy," and Stuart
busts out with an insanely perfect but low-key yodel, and actually
makes you feel it. And when Stuart invites "Uncle Josh"
Graves and Earl Scruggs on board for "Tip Your Hat,"
which is pretty much just a list of other older country artists
that don't suck and their best songs, it goes beyond "sweet"
and into the category of "sublime."
Not that the whole thing is that way. "By
George" is a Stuart original, the silliest song you're gonna
hear this year; his girl gets turned on when she calls him George,
so he says "Weeeeeell, you can call me George Jetson / Call
me George Jones / I'll be your Georgie Porgie / All night long!"
But it rocks so hard, and steals such a fake-gospel part from
a Neil Diamond song, that you won't mind. And "Too Much Month
(At the End of the Money)" is pretty much exactly what you
think it is.
But when Stuart is in his blue-collar lover
mode, like in the perfect "Here I Am" ("I don't
look much like Prince Charming / With Mississippi on my hands
/ But if you want someone to hold you / Baby, here I am")
and "If You Wanted Me Around," or his let's honor country
tradition mode (covering Johnny Cash's "Walls of a Prison"
wins so many credibility points that it's almost illegal), then
he's unbeatable. I love this, you will too, and the fact that
this hasn't cracked the top 20 on the country charts just proves
that Nashville has to get its long-overdue head-out-of-its-ass-ectomy,
liked Country Music...
A Satisfied Mind
2. Fool For Love
3. If There Ain't There Ought'a Be
4. Here I Am
5. Sundown In Nashville
6. By George
7. Farmer's Blues
8. Wishful Thinkin'
9. If You Want Me Around
10. Too Much Month (At The End Of The Money)
11. Tip Your Hat
12. Walls Of A Prison