The Steve Martin Brothers
1981/2006: Wounded Bird Records WOU 3477
A Scientific Question
What I Believe
A Show Biz Moment
The Real Me
Make the Rent
The Gospel Maniacs
Id hung onto a vinyl LP copy of this album for over 20 years just in case it never did get released on CD, but apparently last year someone finally gave its transfer the go-ahead, and as of September 2007 its making a very welcome addition to my CD collection.
Not that its a must-have or even a particularly great albumI just happen to love parts of it very much. Bits of the comedy, especially Love God, which includes the so suave wild and crazy guy persona with the quirky eastern-European accent commenting and its a good idea to always have something nice to say to her parents, like well, Mrs Johnson, I see where Lucy gets her tits! and I see where theyre going to end up. Or What I Believe, with its and I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, wholesome, and natural things that money can buy.
But its the banjo side of the album that I cherish it for. The album came out in 1981, but Martins playing takes me solidly back to a mid-1970s American summertime when I hear it. 1976? Possibly. The exact year is irrelevant, but 1976 did have that curious Bicentennial thrill refreshing things a bit. These songs are lush green grass and the warm air of a summer afternoon beginning to cool a loose, folk-y white cotton shirt, blue jeans, and sandals the scent of nearby fields, the feel that suppertime wasnt far off and then a favorite TV show playing Red Light Green Light in the yard at dusk old stories about people who lived far, far away maybe before your grandfather was born youth and easy anachronisms.
Im especially fond of the Song of Perfect Spaces; what or where those perfect spaces are may be known only to Martin, but to me they are the intervals between the notes of the opening melody, which has a kaleidoscopic fascination about it. Freddis Lilt brings parallel flutes and a violin into play, like an American Folk version of chamber music. Waterbound fades in from an echoey distance and remains beautifully rustic and unfinished, like a bit of a story overheard as youre drifting off to sleep. Banana Banjo closes the album with appropriate playfulness for this comedian-banjoist, dipping and diving all over the place and repeatedly veering off its stated course to what should be an obvious finish, instead arriving at a point surprisingly near the listener.
Comments © 2007 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.