Drink In The 'Hit Pack'

This appeared in The Tennessean - July 24, 1995

The Marty Party is really taking a ride this year. The rhinestone-studded, rooster-haired hillbilly rocker has a hits album, The Marty Party Hit Pack, which is not so unusual for a singer with six albums. Consider, though, Marty Stuart's other smattering of ventures this year:

  • Stuart hosted a British country music awards show during a European tour in April,
  • Nashville named a city trolley for him ("Isn't that cool? I've always got a ride home now"),
  • A Marvel comic book of Marty adventures came out this month
  • ,
  • Stuart's own personal used records store (well, sort of) is now open on Second Avenue
  • ,
  • He preaches testimonial for Jesus in a videotape program, Silent Witness, featuring country stars talking about their relationships with God.

All nifty things, Stuart says, but he's watching for something else: smash-hit platinum albums. "The one thing that's missing to me are those three bigger-than-life records. Writing, searching, finding--the treasure hunt is on for that. The thing that's most important right now is songwriting for an album that gets me back in the studio.

This other stuff is just fun and on the side, stuff you do when you're writing and looking for your universal hit." In all, Stuart's had four Top 10 solo hits and two Top 10 hits with Travis Tritt. "We haven't had greatest hits yet. These are our starter records. These are the records that got me a gig on my own."

Any progress in finding his big hit so far? And what will that next album sound like? "I don't have a clue. Just tell the folks it's gonna be a darn good record." Stuart is out touring this summer to support The Marty Party Hit Pack.

In a May concert at Opryland, Stuart rocked the house for 75 minutes of high-energy fun. Stuart had the crowd clapping and singing with him as he tore through several cool instrumental jams and songs off the Hit Pack. The songs include such hits as Little Things from Tempted, which is Stuart's highest-charting single (at No. 5 in 1991) and Hillbilly Rock, from the 1989 album of the same name as well as a couple of cover songs and new songs.

Why not just wait for some great hits before putting out a hits album? "Hit Pack seemed like a good marketing thought from the MCA marketing world," Stuart says, laughing. "They were looking for a record, and we needed some time to write up a new record." Hence, Hit Pack was born. And Stuart couldn't be happier.

It's a long way from Stuart's start singing at gospel tent meetings in Mississippi when he was 11. He toured with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt when he was 13, played with Johnny Cash's band for six years and won a Grammy for his 1992 recording with Travis Tritt--The Whiskey Ain't Workin'. Despite his love of a good beat, Stuart remains true to his hillbilly heritage.

"I know that everyone is not attached to the roots of country music as much as I am, and that's OK, but there's a wonderful world of knowledge should anybody decide to check into it. And it does help you play, even if you play the pop, the glossy side of country. I swear it helps you make better music.

By Brad Schmitt

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