Steve Martin continues his career as a blue grass singer. This time he teams up with a five man band from North Carolina who call themselves the Steep Canyon Rangers. These guys can really play and sing. They harmonize so well on the track "More Bad Weather On The Way". This song has only one line of lyric, but the musical instruments playing on it is superb. The disc contains upbeat tracks like "Rare Bird Alert" and "Hide Behind A Rock". These songs are blue grass in the most pure form. I am blown away by the way the guys of Steep Canyon Rangers play the banjo. These two tracks put me in a good mood. I love the humor in the songs on this disc. My favorite track is "Jubliation Day". This is the funniest break up song I have ever heard. "Atheists Don't Have No Songs" is a very funny song about music and observations about religion. My other favorite track is the instrumental tune "The Great Remember". The fiddle playing by Nicky Sanders gives this song a romantic tone that I really like. Paul McCartney lends his vocal talents on the track "Best Love". This track stands out for me. It is the first bluegrass love song I have ever heard. "Yellow Backed Fly" is another enjoyable tune. This song is about the simple joy of fishing. This song has a visual quality that I enjoy. The Dixie Chicks lend their talents on the lovely track "You". The guys harmonize so well on the tune "Women Like To Slow Dance". This song has a spirit of a hoe down. This song is very fun. "Rare Bird Alert" will turn more listeners into fans of blue grass music. I really like this music.
on March 17, 2011
The Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC, annually hosts the Mountain Song Festival. The lead act and one of the main sponsors is the Steep Canyon Rangers, a well-known and loved blue grass group from the area and known to the locals as "The Steeps." During the 2008 Festival, the first that I attended, the Steeps were a few minutes into their second show when lead singer Woody Platt announced that there was an "older guy" backstage who said he could play the banjo and wanted to sit in with the band for a song or two. From between the back curtains walked Steve Martin. The crowd went absolutely wild - the people seated out on the lawn began quickly moving towards the stage - all were clapping and screaming like a bunch of teenaged girls at a Back Street Boys concert, which they were not since the average age in the crowd had to be well north of 50. What followed was a superb performance showing not only Martin's skills on the banjo but the vast musical skills of each member of the Steeps.
This phenomenally talented group continues to display those skills in the CD "Rare Bird Alert." The title song and "Northern Island" feature their instrumental talents and there is some remarkable acapella singing in "Atheists Don't Have No Songs" - not to mention they are joined by Sir Paul McCartney whose unmistakable voice provides the lead vocals in "Best Love." And today, St. Patrick's Day, Steve, Woody, Nicky, Mike, Charley, and Graham were guests on The View.
What a great story all around! What's next? Don't know but plan to enjoy the ride to find out.
on March 16, 2011
A strong collection of music from start to finish. My immediate favorites are Jubilation Day for its humor and the Great Remember, for its beauty and sadness. Buy the CD instead of downloading...the illustrations and booklet are fantastic. You'll read every word and study every illustration.
Many folks thought that comedian/actor/author/art expert Steve Martin's first bluegrass album was a "one shot thing". It was (and is) a highly entertaining album. Martin, who was playing banjo in his stand-up comedy act early in his career, hooked up with the North Carolina bluegrass band, The Steep Canyon Rangers at a music festival and they've been touring ever since.
Well, The Crow - that first CD - was not a fluke. Martin and "the Steeps" are back with this new album. Martin wrote nine of the 13 tracks here and co-wrote the rest with the band. Four of the songs are instrumentals (and one, More Bad Weather on the Way", could be considered as such, since the only lyrics are the words in the title). The pace is both fast and slow (the beautiful instrumental, "The Great Remember" is the latter). And while most of the album was recoded in the studio, the last three tracks - including the very funny "Atheists Don't Have No Songs" and a bluegrass version of Martin's pop hit "King Tut"- were recorded live in concert. Martin calls on a few "celebrities to attract the non-bluegrass audience. The Dixie Chicks get lead vocals on "You" and Sir Paul McCartney does the honors on "Best Love". Surely these tracks will find a lot of fans of these artists doing single downloads of these tracks, but maybe, just maybe, their fans will be introduced to this down-home style of music.
The handsomely illustrated booklet inserted in the CD sleeve has liner notes on each song by Martin (with a nod - more than once - to his forthcoming movie - The Big Year). No lyrics are included, but are probably on a website somewhere.
I really liked this CD, though I can't say I liked it more than The Crow. But both are five stars in my opinion. So, if you have the first album, run to get this one. If you don't have that one, feel free to start here and work backwards.
on March 17, 2011
For those who enjoyed The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo, you will love this even more!! Once again, Steve Martin's banjo virtuosity shines on this album! Unlike the other album, which was mostly 3-finger style picking, Steve offers an equal share of songs in clawhammer and Scruggs style picking. Also, there are plenty more vocal songs sung expertly by the Steep Canyon Rangers, along with some great guest appearances by the Walrus himself, Sir Paul McCartney, and the Dixie Chicks! Steve has also improved in his lyric writing. Just listen to the words of "Go Away, Stop, Turn Around, Come Back" and the ever hilarious "Atheists Don't Have No Songs"! Why can't I pick as great as Steve?!
on March 19, 2011
Yes, I have no reservations whatsoever giving 5 stars to this one. The previous reviews are accurate. Steve's sense of humor comes across not only in several of the tracks, but in the CD art as well. Best Love is a cute, mature love song, thanks to Sir Paul, and The Great Remember is a beautifully poignant elegy. The bluegrass King Tut is even better than the original. I really enjoyed The Crow, but this CD is stronger in all respects.
on January 30, 2012
When Steve Martin decided to share his love of banjo music with us, I bought "The Crow". I thoroughly enjoy it! Looks like Steve was charged up by playing, for now we have another album and he's on the road. Hooking up with the Steep Canyon Rangers...or did they hook up with him? Well, I don't care who hooked up with whom. It was a good move for both, anyway.
"The Crow" was all about the banjo, but here it is featured in good company with guitars, fiddle, and mandolin, all superbly played. I won't go into a song-by-song review, but I want to say a little about the two novelty items on this album. One is an old novelty. (Yes. That is a contradiction in terms.) "King Tut" was novel when Steve wrote it for a Saturday Night Live skit, many moons ago, as a spectacular exhibit of items from the tomb of ancient Egypt's Pharaoh Tutankhamun was touring the country. The song escaped it's SNL bounds and wound up high on the pop charts. Well, on "Rare Bird Alert", you can hear it performed with it's original, authentic, bluegrass instrumentation. It's a hoot! But the new novelty song is the topper for me. Regardless of your religious beliefs, your sense of humor should be tickled to laughing-out-loud from "Atheists Don't Have No Songs". In fact, atheists themselves might laugh hardest over this. It seems Steve's weird mind realized, one day, that the only people without religious music are people without religion. And he decided to write a song about that. I'm still laughing!
So, do you like bluegrass and banjo music? Do you like Steve Martin humor? There's mostly the former and a bit of the latter on "Rare Bird Alert". Enjoy!
on January 29, 2016
LOVE STEEP CANYON RANGERS .... Steve Martin okay - more for kids. Loved his movies though. Bought this for my husband's birthday. I don't think he ever listens to it much. BUT we have seen Steep Canyon Rangers in concert TWICE and absolutely love them! I buy their CDS when I can. I think we have about four so far of just the Steep Canyon Rangers.
I am sure that Steve Martin has really helped them though by giving them professional pointers - because this is a "slick" group - love their suits ...... their lighting .............. love the fiddle player!
Steve Martin actually gives $50,000 of his money away to one best Banjo player a year...... I think he has done this at least 4 times and has tried to help bluegrass get on the radar but having David Letterman feature the winners and other bluegrass bands too!
Thank you Steve Martin.
on September 5, 2011
This album is great! I love Steve Martin the actor, author, and comedian - but Steve Martin the Banjo player is even better. The talent with which he and his band play is unsurpassed, and the album art is right, this certainly is the "highest class bluegrass in the world" - give it a shot today!
on February 21, 2014
Really, if I could give it a 1/2 star, I would. I naively expected a lot of banjo and fiddle, but most of it was mediocre vocals. There was no foot stomping or even tapping to this. In all honesty, I trashed it before I even got through all of the tracks. And the opening track, all instrumental thank you, was disturbing with it's use of breaks ("pregnant pauses") in the music - not once, but twice. Nothing brings you down quicker than silence (unless it's the vocals).