Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives
A Byrdsian, Garage-Rock,Twelve String Trippy Delight.
Anyone who caught Marty and his Fabulous Superlatives on his UK/EU visit last year will appreciate that the man and his band are masters of any Country form (and others – Surf music too) they choose to turn their hands to. On this occasion, Mr Stuart is dipping his pen into late period Byrds twanging psychedelia.
Instrumentals “Lost Byrd Space Train” (“Scene 1” and “Epilogue”) bookmark the album and set the tone.
The opener is a rumbling, trippy ride which nigh-segues into the scorching “Country Star”, a sort of response to “So You Wanna be a Rock’n’roll Star?” yet much tougher and harder – it’s has echoes of a Creedence style road song and is bound to be a live favourite.
Twelve string, Beatle-esque melody and Byrdsian harmony takes over on “Sitting Alone” – has anyone seen Marty and Bennett Wilson Poole in the same room?
“A friend of mine” keeps up the pace – although more in mid-60s garage rock territory and would have sat perfectly in any of the Nuggets compilations with its driving bass and surf guitar riffing – definitely an air guitar showpiece.
There’s then a trio of single-word title songs “Space”, as its name suggests is slower and atmospheric – based around sitar and a lyric about being an outsider, it comes from the sort of place that the Thirteenth Floor Elevators might have frequented. Title track “Altitude” is much more cosmic country – it takes the path that the Flying Burrito Brothers were pursuing and I can almost visualise Marty S. doing the Gram Parsons facial twitch while singing it. The Parsons connection continues with “Vegas” which is a close cousin of “Ooh Las Vegas” – it even has the “oohs” and a copycat rhythm!!
The song titles get some extra words again with “The Sun is Quietly Shining”, a more reflective soundtrack to one of those films shot on Super 8 with lots of lava lamp projection effects.
It’s hippy-trippy heaven.
Early Pink Floyd anyone?
There’s a brief instrumental revisit to the “Lost Byrd Space Train (scene 2)” before the wig-out slow boogie of “Nightriding” with its grungy bass tones.
Tempo-wise things kick off again with “Tomahawk” which has its roots in old Blues stompers and late 60s Acid-Country.
“Time to Dance” is perhaps a bit of a late declaration because there’s been plenty to shake your bits to prior to this 12th track – choice of dance to this track?
Probably the Twist.
Last “full” track “The Angels Came Down” is the most laid-back on the album, with Stuart’s close-mic-ed saturated vocal framed by warm picked guitar and sweet harmonies, before the gentler trip-out of the final “Lost Byrd Space Train (Epilogue)”.
Once again, Marty Stuart shows that he’s the King of whatever he wants to turn his hand to, musically speaking – as a scholar of the genre he knows his stuff and its seeps into his music.
In the case of “Altitude”, Marty Stuart’s playing what he most obviously loves, not what the mainstream might dictate and that gives it all the more life and vibrancy.
Fans of the aforementioned Bennett Wilson Poole will love this – both albums are coming from very similar places – maybe we’re seeing a Paisley revival, revival?!!
Review by Nick Barber
Released 19th May 2023
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