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Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives
Live At The Ryman
Universal South Records

After a classic Ryman introduction hailing Marty Stuart as "one of [country music's] greatest treasures", Marty and his band kick it into fifth gear for a set of high steppin', hard-stompin' bluegrass music. Anyone who knows Marty's history knows that he was playing mandolin with Flatts and Scruggs when he was just a wee sprite age 13, so it's no real surprise to finally get a bluegrass set from the man who's keeping real country music alive in Nashville.

Marty churns out a hot set of 'grass, from the traditional "Orange Blossom Special" and "No Hard Times Blues" to reworkings of some of his personal best, such as "Hillbilly Rock" and "The Whiskey Ain't Working Anymore"… which, consequently, is far superior without Travis Tritt singing along. Stuart is joined on stage by some very special guests in addition to his fine band, The Fabulous Superlatives - featuring the indomitable hometown hero Kenny Vaughan on guitar, Harry Stinson on drums and Brian Glenn on bass guitar. Charlie Cushman joins in on banjo, while the now legendary Stuart Duncan lends his fiddle talents to the show, and the unstoppable "Uncle" Josh Graves turns up to play some amazing Dobro guitar. Of course, Marty himself spends the show wailing away on his Gibson mandolin.

There are no real highlights to point out, as the entire set is blistering and soulful. But when Charlie Cushman stands front and center for "Shuckin' The Corn", it may as well be Earl Scruggs slamming away on that banjo. And when "Uncle" Josh takes center stage for "Train 45", shivers run up and down my spine… his gravelly voice is backwoods perfection and his Dobro playing is simply without equal… The man can draw forth such soul from the strings. The band hits an old-time rock'n'roll stride on "Walk Like That", featuring a ripping Marty Stuart mandolin solo, before finishing up with the now-classic "Hillbilly Rock"… a song that is every bit as strong as a bluegrass tune as it is a rockin' rockabilly track.

Live At The Ryman is another notch in the belt of one of the modern world's greatest country legends, as well as a fine tribute to where the man himself came from. The album is full of blissfully great playing, as well as being a modern compendium of bluegrass greats and their contributions to the art. Modern country music would have a whole lot of nothing without Marty Stuart, and here's another reason why.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Eddie Stubbs Intro
2. Orange Blossom Special
3. No Hard Times Blues
4. Homesick
5. Shuckin' The Corn
6. The Whiskey Ain't Workin' Anymore
7. Mr. John Henry Intro
8. Mr. John Henry, The Steel Drivin' Man
9. Uncle John's Intro
10. Train 45
11. Josh's Joke
12. The Great Speckled Bird
13. Sure Wanna Keep My Wine
14. Walk Like That
15. Hillbilly Rock

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