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Marty Stuart
Ghost Train
Review By Steven Stone

 

  Marty Stuart. He's a musician, cultural historian, collector, photographer, and prodigal son-in-law. All these facets of Marty Stuart come together on Ghost Train, which makes it a pretty darned brilliant piece of work. For those readers unfamiliar with Stuart, his curriculum vitae reads like the history of Americana music. His first regular pro gig, at the ripe old age 13 was playing mandolin and guitar with Lester Flatt. He stayed with Flatt until 1979 when Flatt passed away. Stuart then joined legendary fiddler, Vassar Clements, playing on sessions with Doc and Merle Watson, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Billie Joel. In 1980 Stuart met Johnny Cash, and Cash invited him to join his band on guitar. After six years playing with Cash, Stuart went out on his own and signed a recording contract with CBS that yielded only one album, Marty Stuart, in 1986. In 1989 Stuart released his first album on MCA, the first of four gold albums made for that label. During this period Stuart developed his "Marty party" hillbilly rock brand of commercial country that drew heavily from honky-tonk and roots music for inspiration. Since 2000 Stuart has released albums on his own Superlatone label.

Ghost Train is a return to his roots for Stuart. "The first recording session I ever participated in was in this room (RCA's studio B)," he says. Studio B was RCA's premier southern studio. Elvis, Homer and Jethro, and all of RCA's A-list pop acts recorded there in the 50's and 60's, often under the supervision of RCA's principal A&R man, Chet Atkins. The album opens with "Branded," a Stuart original that encapsulates what makes his music special – addictive melodies, hooky lyrics, and of course, hot picking.

Joined by his regular band, the Superlatives, which includes Kenny Vaughn on guitar, Harry Stinson on drums, and Paul Martin on bass, Stuart romps through eleven originals supplemented by three covers. Stuart's rendition of "Crazy Arms" features steel guitarist Ralph Mooney sharing solos with Stuart and Vaughn and turning it into the ultimate twangfest.

Marty says, "These songs have been lived through and this project comes from the heart. This time, it led me home to traditional country music…it's truly who I am."

 

 

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