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Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

Live at the Ryman – 2006 (Superlatone/Universal South)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

This is not your typical greatest-hits-with-background-noise package. For one thing, there's only a couple of Marty Stuart's chart-toppers here and they sound vastly different from the versions you're familiar with. Stuart's always been eclectic in his musical stylings, but he started out as a 13-year-old prodigy playing mandolin with Lester Flatt's band. And this album is an attempt to get back to those roots.

So we get to hear Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives (and guest star Uncle Josh Graves, the King of the Dobro) doing bluegrassy versions of old-time classics like "John Henry" and "Orange Blossom Special" as well as bluegrassy versions of gospel tunes like "Great Speckled Bird" and even bluegrassy versions of Stuart's hits "Hillbilly Rock" and "The Whiskey Ain't Workin' Anymore."

The legendary acoustics at the Ryman are as sweet as ever, and the Superlatives definitely make the most of them. But how much you enjoy this album will depend on how well you understand that Marty Stuart is always going to do exactly what he wants to do, and what he wants to do here is bluegrass.