Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

Way Out West

For decades, Stuart has been one of country music’s biggest champions, and may yet be its savior. His Fabulous Superlatives are one of the tightest, most authentic country bands and possibly the most versatile – as demonstrated on the RFD Channel’s “Marty Stuart Show,” where they’ve backed everyone from Kitty Wells to Sam Moore.

As evidenced here, they’re also among the most forward-thinking. With Heartbreaker Mike Campbell as producer, this 15-track song-cycle about the West contains influences from Marty Robbins (the waltz-time “Lost On The Desert”) to Link Wray (“Quicksand”) and the Byrds (“Time Don’t Wait”), with a title song that could’ve been penned by Carlos Castaneda. How many “country” albums include sitar (provided by the band’s newest member, bassist Chris Scruggs)?

Everyone gets a chance to shine, with Scruggs playing steel and drummer Harry Stinson on gut-string guitar on the flamenco instrumental “El Fantasma Del Toro.” Contrasting and complementing Stuart’s snaky B-bender licks, Kenny Vaughan brings the twang, especially on his driving instrumental “Tornado.” He also supplies the electric 12-string on “Time” (with a touch of wah-wah – by Campbell?) and recalls Jimmy Bryant’s Stratosphere double-neck on “Air Mail Special.”

Tight, authentic, versatile, forward-thinking, and yes, superlative. More succinctly, the best.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’17 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.