Album Review: Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives – ‘Cool Country Favorites’
May 31, 2012
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After 2003’s Country Music, the major label phase of Marty Stuart’s career ended. He began to release music on his own Superlative label (initially in conjunction with Universal South), and issued a pair of critically acclaimed concept albums, followed by a duets compilation and a live album recorded at the Ryman Auditorium. 2008’s Cool Country Favorites is a transition album that serves as a gateway to the traditional sounding music he is making today.
As the title suggests, Cool Country Favorites is a tribute to country music, with bluegrass, rockabilly, and traditional country all represented. It contains a number of covers of country and folk standards, Marty’s take on classics by Johnny Cash (“Big River”) and George Jones (“Old, Old House”), and some instrumentals such as “La Tingo Tango” (the theme song to Marty’s RFD-TV show) and “Buckaroo”. He even takes a back seat on a couple of tracks and allows his Fabulous Superlatives to shine. “The Apostle” Paul Martin sings the lead vocals on “Bluegrass Express” and Harry Stinson sings on a very nice bluegrass version of Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd”. “Carol Lee” sounds like a 1950s Chuck Berry tune, but it was actually written and performed by “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan.
A number of the songs on the album appear elsewhere in Stuart’s discography. Both Porter Wagoner’s “A Satisfied Mind” and “Sundown In Nashville” appeared on 2003’s Country Music. The latter would be remade again for Marty’s current album. “Truck Drivin’ Blues”, on which Marty name-checks his wife Connie Smith, is one of only two Stuart-penned songs on the album. It too was remade for his latest release.
The album’s two standout tracks are Marty’s rendition of the George Jones classic “Old, Old House”, and the hauntingly beautiful, stripped-down “Dark Bird”, which Marty wrote as a tribute to Johnny Cash. It closes the album on a quiet, thoughtful, and beautiful note.
Unfortunately and surprisingly, Cool Country Favorites is difficult to find. It is unavailable digitally and I was unable to find any new or used copies on Amazon. As such, it is in danger of being forgotten. If you do manage to locate a copy at a reasonable price, grab it.