Love and Luck
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If variety is the spice of life, then you're going to like the taste of Marty Stuart's latest. You get a little bit of everything--bluegrass, blues, rock, and hard country. The title cut sounds like something rocker John Mellencamp might do. There's the cosmic bluegrass instrumental "Marty Stuart Visits the Moon" and the Johnny Cash-flavored cut "Oh, What A Silent Night." Remember, this is a guy who was on the road at age 13 playing with Lester Flatt and later with Cash himself. Talk about a musical education! While Marty always had the instrumental tools in his guitar and mandolin playing, along the way he also learned how to craft song lyrics. On this album, he had the good fortune to write a couple of tunes with one of the masters, Harlan Howard. Marty even gives us a glimpse of his life in the final cut, "If I Give My Soul," written by Billy Joe Shaver. He sings it like he means it and I get the feeling there's a message in there somewhere. This is Marty's best album to date. Enjoy it!
By John Kelley, Operations Manager at KX104
|Stuart's superb musicianship and songwriting (he penned 7 of the 11 cuts) make this one a keeper despite his non-distinctive singing voice. Steel guitarist Paul Franklin deserves special mention. On "Wheels," the old Gram Parsons song, he packs the spaces between the heavenly harmonies with heart-rendering riffs. He also plaintively opens, closes, and provides a cleanly picked bridge for my pick hit single from the album, "You Can Walk All Over Me," a classic-sounding two-stepper penned by Marty himself. On the final cut, "If I Give My Soul," Franklin's steel meshes seamlessly with Lonnie Wilson's drums to provide the underpinnings to this driving confession of a man standing at a crossroads. Marty Stuart has clearly passed the crossroads successfully, bringing hillbilly music of the masters into the country mainstream.
By K. S., Bothell, Washington
|Marty's picking has always been more compelling than his singing. So it's no coincidence that some of the best songs on Love and Luck feature soaring support from the tenors of Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs ("Wheels" and "Oh, What A Silent Night"). Stuart's self-written "That's What Love's About" is a slow one with a positive message. But after that, things start thinning out. "Shake Your Hips" is recycled junk-rock and the lyrics to "If I Give My Soul" make me wince. Marty's faithful shouldn't hesitate--this CD is his best to date. For the rest of us, though, it's a toss-up.
By D. L., Royersford, Pennsylvania
|With all due respect to Marty Stuart and his "roots" in the music business, after listening to this album numerous times, I must say that I can only like it. I basically found Marty's voice too weak to make these songs strong. He seems to do very well harmonizing with others, but maybe he just needs to find some more great songs suitable for his voice, like "Burn Me Down" off his Tempted album. There's no doubt Marty Stuart will be around as long as there's country music, but as far as this album making him a superstar....I don't think so.
By D. B. Ruston, Louisiana
|The prince of hillbilly rock is back after two years with more of the same, with practically every cut a tribute to one of his idols. The title cut "Love and Luck" plays on the traditional sound done Marty-style. "Kiss Me, I'm Gone" has an interesting beat and should be a show-stopper on stage. "Wheels" has more of that good ole hard country sound that Marty learned from the masters, and he draws on the influence of '50s acts like Faron Young for "I Ain't Giving Up On Love (I'm Just Giving Up On You)." I hope this winds up as a single--it's everything he does best, condensed into less than three minutes.
"Marty Stuart Visits The Moon" is a fast-paced bluegrass romp and "Oh, What A Silent Night" shows that Bill Monroe influence. "Shake Your Hips" heads off in a totally different direction, with riff's reminiscent of Canned Heat. "If I Give My Soul" is that rare treasure--a new Billy Joe Shaver song, one that also appeared on his recent Tramp on Your Street CD. Love and Luck shows Marty doing what he does so well and giving his fans just what they crave from the man who wars his influence on the sleeve of his rhinestoned Manuel jacket.
|One way you can spot the really good ones is by how they come on. On that score, Marty Stuart needs no more than the very first song on this set to leave no doubt about whether he qualifies. "Love and Luck," on my initial listening, didn't strike me as a very special song, but I liked it a lot anyhow. There's that catchy guitar intro, a nice steel lick up next, and Marty sings the song with energy and affection. Those chiming folk-rock guitars on the break clinch it; the darn thing just plain felt so great that I didn't care if it was much of a song or not. But at a certain point, the lyrics and story line kicked in, and I began realizing that it was a much better piece of material than I'd thought.
The point is that if it didn't have all that other stuff going for it, I'd have missed the song completely, but "all that other stuff" kept me interested long enough that I eventually tuned in the rest. An artist can do that when he's on top of his game, and this right here is the one consistent album from Marty Stuart that captures him near the top of his game.
I'm also real partial to the instrumental, "Marty Stuart Visits The Moon," which starts out like a more or less conventional mandolin breakdown and then, right towards the end, turns just plain weird (without ever losing the backwoods feel). I'm not quite sure how to describe it, but try to picture what might have resulted had George Martin produced Flatt and Scruggs rather than the Beatles.
And here's another Marty Stuart strength. He writes songs that make me think kindly of someone else, even though Marty's performance simultaneously remain very much his own. "You Can Walk All Over Me," could have been a Starday-era George Jones song, for example, while "I Ain't Giving Up On Love" would have worked for George in his United Artists years. And it's a real shame that Conway Twitty didn't live long enough to get to take a crack at "That's What Love's About."
Stuart misses once in a while--"That's When You'll Know It's Over" is a fairly pedestrian hurtin' song--but like I said, it's mostly solid even when it's not more. "Kiss Me, I'm Gone" is like a "Fever"-like ballad with extra bounce and great blues fiddle by Stuart Duncan. Gram Parsons' "Wheels" gets a faithful reading; "Oh, What A Silent Night" has a Stanley Brothers feel; Slim Harpo's sly, sinuous swamp blues, "Shake Your Hips," builds to a slam-bang finish; and the set goes out with a sweet take on Billy Joe Shaver's "If I Give My Soul." What a spectrum there. Marty Stuart is like the ultimate country fan and he knows what he's doing as an artist, too.
By John Morthland
|Highlights: "That's When You'll Know It's Over," "Love and Luck," "If I Give My Soul," "Wheels."
FYI: Marty wrote or co-wrote seven out of the 11 songs on his newest release. The follow-up to the successful This One's Gonna Hurt You combines elements of country, gospel and bluegrass, collectively making up Marty's unique style of hillbilly rock. Marty also shows off his instrumental prowess on the track "Marty Stuart Visits The Moon," on which he plays the mandolin. Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs are two of the background vocalists found on the album.
|Marty Stuart's vision of country music has always encompassed more than wailing guitars and broken hearts. The Mississippi-bred Stuart was born with a bit of the rockabilly rebel in him, while his apprenticeship with both Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash as a mandolinist and guitarist, respectively, gave him his love of tradition.
His tenure with the aforementioned pair of country legends also qualifies him as a superb picker, and it's all these elements that he brings together for his most tasteful, electric album yet, Love and Luck.
On Love and Luck, co-produced with Nashville ace Tony Brown, Stuart manages to corral all his influences into a cohesive effort that rocks and rides, sighs and slides.
The wildest journey on Love and Luck comes courtesy of Stuart's hands on the aptly titled "Marty Stuart Visits The Moon," a high-flying bluegrass instrumental that has the prized picker marching licks at about a million miles a minute with legendary banjo great Bela Fleck and fiddler Stuart Duncan.
"Shake Your Hips" throws in a scent of delta blues with its rocking hillbilly flavor as Stuart covers Slim Harpo; while an original collaboration with Harlan Howard called "I Ain't Giving Up On Love" is a cheerful, swinging romp concerning a stubborn streak of the heart.
Stuart rarely sounds more poignant than on the touching ballad, "That's When You'll Know It's Over," and his update of the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Wheels" recalls the ghost of the late Gram Parsons.
There's also a couple of great originals co-written with Bob DiPiero on Love and Luck. "Kiss Me, I'm Gone" sounds tailor-made for Bakersfield outlaw Dwight Yoakam, while "Love and Luck" is a strong story of fatherly advice adapted to a strong Western swing.
Bluegrass, rockabilly,blues and standards--Marty Stuart can do it all. And you can sure bet that in Stuart's case, love has a lot more to do with the final result than luck.
By Nick Krewen
|February 19, 1996|
Marty Stuart describes his brand of country / bluegrass as "hillbilly music with a thump," but it's really much more. On his latest MCA release Love and Luck, Stuart fuses and utilizes the many styles from his past, which includes stints with Lester Flatt, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan. There are doses of country rock in "I Ain't Giving Up on Love." Blues shows up on the title track "Kiss Me, I'm Gone." "You Can Walk All Over Me" is honky tonk. And there is even a wild-picking instrumental with Stuart on mandolin and guests Stuart Duncan on fiddle and Bela Fleck on banjo ("Marty Stuart Visits the Moon").
Love and Luck combines elements of country roots with the contemporary style that has helped country re-emerge as a force in the music industry. After a highly successful tour with Travis Tritt last year, Stuart found it difficult to repeat the success he enjoyed with his gold-selling album "This One's Gonna Hurt You." In fact, he put off the recording of the follow-up several months until he found the right feel to his new collection of songs. It looks like the waiting paid off for Stuart.
By Don Kroeller Jr.
|March 27, 1994|
|Marty Stuart has pushed the line between commercial compromise and creative risk as consistently as anyone in Nashville in recent years.
By combining a born-again reverence for country roots with a rock star's flamboyance, Stuart has penetrated through the fringe to the country mainstream. And if he's not yet the superstar he obviously wants to be, neither is he the unknown picker he used to be.
Love and Luck, Stuart's fourth album for MCA, attempts to play both ends against the middle, with mixed results. Stuart and producer Tony Brown demonstrate a progressive vision of contemporary country music with covers of Gram Parsons' Wheels, Slim Harpo's Shake Your Hips and Billy Joe Shaver's If I Give My Soul. None comes close to matching the original. But sometimes it's the thought that counts.
Stuart did time as a sideman with Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash before launching his own career as a singer/songwriter. He shows off his bluegrass mandolin chops on the instrumental Marty Stuart Visits The Moon. This is followed by the album's best song, the bluegrass-inflected Oh, What A Silent Night, co-written with the legendary Harlan Howard.
By comparison, Stuart's current single Kiss Me, I'm Gone is not much more than fluffy ear candy. And the smarmy ballads That's What Love's About and That's When You'll Know It's Over sound like blatant bids for the massive mainstream success that thus far has eluded him.
While a stronger singer might be able to get over with this stuff, Stuart's voice is such that he is only as good as his material. And if there's anything Nashville doesn't need, it's another cutesy crooner. * * 1/2
By Rick Mitchell
|Since any new Marty Stuart album is not only an occasion that merits great joy, but one that reverential awe, we go cut by cut....
1. "Love and Luck," the title track, is a charged-up hotbed of advice the singer's father lays on him. According to the song, the ol' guy never talked much so when he told his son this, the son listened carefully. Later in life, when he's "out on my own/ain't much to show for the seeds I've sown," he looks in the mirror and remembers his daddy's words, "I wish you luck and love, love and luck/Life's a treasure so go dig it up."
2. "Kiss Me, I'm Gone." Spurred by fiddles, piano and Marty's cheeky humor, this one's a real corker, a finger-snapping drive-'em-wild show-stopper, one of two Marty wrote with Pam Tillis' husband, Bob DiPiero.
3. "Wheels," a lazy little ditty, with dobro sailing atop Marty's harmony-laden vocals, is a true blue reverent cover of an old Chris Hillman/Gram Parsons song from the '60s.
4. "I Ain't Giving Up On Love," one of two here Marty co-wrote with legendary writer Harlan Howard, features Marty's furious mandolin pickin'. He ain't giving up on love, he's just giving up on you! A rousing doubletimer!
5. "That's What Love's About," a beautiful original ballad that Marty sings with sentiment just short of drippy. Could be taken as love instruction ("treat her like a lady") from a guy who knows, adorned with lonesome fiddle.
6. "Marty Stuart Visits The Moon," well, not really. But he does inspire on some surefire lightning-fast mandolin pickin' as he harkens back to his original bluegrass roots (with psychedelic twist at the end).
7. "Oh, What A Silent Night." Hot trad! This is Marty at his best--smokin' white soul--that should be perfect for radio.
8. "Shake Your Hips." Leave it to Marty to take Slim Harpo's sexy blues and play it right and righteous. He knows enough not to change its basic appeal--despite making the break with fiddle instead of blues-harp. It's a tribute to him that it comes off as valid as it does. Ol' Slim would've loved it.
9. "You Can Walk All Over Me." Man this album just keeps on getting better and better! Another beautiful perfect country song. He thought he'd "always be just wild and free," yet he's willing to let this woman "walk all over me." Now THAT'S love.
10. "That's When You'll Know It's Over" brings this loose cautionary concept full circle. He starts the album with advice from his dad; leaves a first-love with a quick kiss; stops along the way to play an old '60s favorite; declares he won't give up on love while again leaving; knows enough to dispense some solid love advice of his own; jams; loses yet another lady; plays the blues; and finally chucks his independence completely for yet a new love, but soon knows that even this is over.
11. Finally, he ends it with "If I Give My Soul," Billy Joe Shaver's wise declaration of sin: "If I bow my head and beg God for his forgiveness/Will he breathe new breath inside me and give me back my dignity." He already knows the answer.
Ain't no one like Marty!
|If you have any doubts about how Stuart can turn on a guitar pick musically, just take a listen to the disparity between cuts seven and eight on his Love and Luck album. Oh, What A Silent Night would not sound out of place at a bluegrass festival with its spare and emotional pleading. Two beats later on Shake Your Hips, Stuart revels in a performance akin to the Whiskey A Go-Go, giving this R & B chestnut a workout. (Do I see a new line dance in the making?)
The rest of the 11 cuts strike musical stylings between these bookends. This album has Stuart's mark all over it, from the musicians he chose to the songs he picked. Granted, he did contribute quite a few of his own works here, but he also shows sterling song sense when picking those by others. He revives a Chris Hillman/Gram Parsons tune and shows that, nearly 25 years later, these ground-breaking stylists weren't too off-base for today's country music.
Stuart comes off better on the perkier tunes especially the broken heart retort, I'm Not Giving Up On Love (I'm Giving Up On You). That one has to be a barn burner during a concert.
|May 21, 2012|
Marty co-produced his fourth MCA album (released in 1994) with label boss Tony Brown. It lacked the big hitters of its immediate predecessors, with no Tritt duets and no big hits, and the momentum he had developed began to wither away as a result. Its a fairly solid album with a mixture of country rock and more traditional sounds, and while Martys voice was still not distinctive, he interprets the mostly self-penned material convincingly. Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs were recruited to sing harmonies, and Gill in particular is prominent on a number of tracks.
Lead single "Kiss Me, Im Gone," written by Marty with Bob DiPiero, peaked at a disappointing #26, and deserved to do a little better. The sultry bluesy groove is more memorable than the unremarkable lyric, but overall it is a decent track with an interesting arrangement. It was unwisely followed up by the mid-tempo title track, from the same writing partnership. The banal life advice from a father to a so leaving home is just not very interesting and barely charted. The tender ballad "Thats What Loves About" has Marty proffering romantic advice about treating a woman well, and is quite attractive with a lovely steel-laced arrangement, but although it was the best of the three singles, it was another flop.
The label may not have picked the right songs for radio, because there is some fine fare here.The pacy kissoff song "I Aint Giving Up On Love" was written with the legendary Harlan Howard and feels a little too rushed, but is quite enjoyable, with tight harmonies, with the protagonist, battered by loving the girl who rejected his marriage proposal, stating bouncily,
Harlan also co-wrote the high lonesome "Oh What A Silent Night," with the protagonist facing an empty home after his woman has moved out:
This excellent song is a highlight of the record.
I also really enjoyed the shuffle "You Can Walk All Over Me," written by Marty with Wayne Perry. This one offers unconditional surrender when falling in love
The best of the few outside songs is "Thats When Youll Know Its Over," written by Butch Carr and Russ Zavitson, which is a gently sad declaration of undying love through the pain of a broken heart with a pretty melody.
The Byrds "Wheels" is quite nicely if undadventurously done, with prominent harmonies from Vince Gill and Paul Franklins steel, but it could do with a little more urgency. Marty rattles his way through a speeded up emotionless version Billy Joe Shavers "If I Give My Soul" which is oceans away from the intensity of the stunning original and is thoroughly disappointing. However, the worst inclusion on the album was the boringly repetitive and tuneless R&B/rock of "Shake Your Hips," cover of an old R&B hit better known as a Rolling Stones cover. This was a waste of a track.
Halfway through he throws in the oddly titled (and Grammy-nominated) instrumental "Marty Stuart Visits The Moon" which has a kind of bluegrass spaghetti western feel featuring Martys mandolin and Bela Fleck on banjo.
Overall, this is quite a good record despite its lower commercial success, which successfully balanced traditional and contemporary. If you can find it cheaply enough (and used copies seem to be fairly easy to find), its worth checking out.
By Occasional Hope
|Marty Stuart marries the commercial and historical for an album that defines the mass appeal of his sound. Whether it's a grinding remake of Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips," Shaver's bluegrass spiritual "If I Give My Soul" or the hushed "That's What Love's About," Stuart makes versatility a unifying element. Rough-voiced, Stuart sings with heart and proves pretty ain't everything. [Four stars]
By Holly Gleason
|April 11, 2012|
On Love and Luck, Marty Stuart's fourth album for MCA, Stuart himself either wrote or co-wrote seven of the 11 tracks, and with the exception of "That's What Love's About," where the schmaltz factor unfortunately cancels out some of the interesting harmonic moments of the composition, they are uniformly strong. The rock-influenced title track and the haunting "Oh, What a Silent Night" are some of his strongest efforts, but they pale in comparison to the centerpiece of the record, a moving version of the excellent Billy Joe Shaver song "If I Give My Soul." Also particularly nice is Stuart's version of the Byrds' "Wheels," which perfectly captures the song's bittersweet feel. Stuart is one of that rarest of all commodities: a superstar country vocalist who also has enough instrumental chops to make the services of even Nashville's cadre of virtuosos unnecessary. He demonstrates this on the instrumental "Marty Stuart Visits the Moon," where the singer gets to flash his mandolin chops on a catchy, up-tempo track. This is not to say that the studio band isn't top-notch, because they are, and they include such notables as Randy Scruggs, John Jorgenson, John Barlow Jarvis, Paul Franklin, and Bela Fleck. There are some clunkers on Love and Luck, like the repetitive and boring "Shake Your Hips," but overall this is a fine effort from Stuart, and shows his range nicely.
|March 25, 1994|
|Marty Stuart's fourth album for MCA is an awfully tame affair even though he pulls in such first-rate players as Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, John Jarvis, John Jorgenson, Stuart Duncan and Bela Fleck.
The album starts out feebly with "Love and Luck," in which Stuart and co-writer Bob DiPiero fail to find anything new in the daddy/mama/grandma/grand-dad was right formula. Sorry, but "I wish you luck and love, love and luck," Daddy's big line here isn't much of a life lesson. Stuart's "That's What Love's About" is another sappy advise song--"Treat her like a lady" (shouldn't the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose get a co-credit?).
Stuart's collaborations with the great Harlan Howard, the lovelorn "Oh, What A Silent Night" and the lively "I Ain't Giving Up On Love," are better tunes although the lyrics seem tossed off. As for the covers, Stuart is way too stiff for the blues number "Shake Your Hips." His version of the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Wheels" is chinky. And he manages to turn Billy Joe Shaver's "If I Give My Soul" a complex song of deep regret and sinking hopes into a conventional up-tempo number.
The best number by far is the instrumental, "Marty Stuart Visits the Moon." Stuart picks up the mandolin, his original instrument, and mixes it up with fiddler Stuart Duncan and innovative banjo player Bela Fleck. Nobody loses any fingers in the fray, but it's the one track on which Stuart and co-producer Tony Brown let folks loosen up a little.
By Parry Gettelman
|April 11, 1994|
|For years, Marty Stuart has been the Where's Waldo of country music. If you know where to look, he was easy to spot; backing up Lester Flatt at the Opry, on the road with Johnny Cash or jamming with buddy Travis Tritt on the Grammy-winning single "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'." But despite a handful of solid hits--not to mention his taste for rooster hair and rhinestone jackets--Stuart never seemed to stand out in the Nashville crowd.
His seventh album, Love and Luck should finally change that. Now his fans are treated to a rolling ride through blues, rock, gospel and traditional country. The album cruises along so smoothly that you hardly notice the boundaries that are being blurred. The Elvis-styled "Kiss Me, I'm Gone" fades into the Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman-penned "Wheels." The wondrously mournful "Oh, What A Silent Night," which Stuart co-wrote with Harlan Howard, leads the way for an infectious cover of the Rolling Stones "Shake Your Hips." With his warm voice hugging every turn, Stuart's brand of souped-up country takes listeners for a flat-out spin that may leave them a bit dizzy, but thoroughly enthralled.
By Cynthia Sanz
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