STEVE MARTIN AND THE STEEP CANYON RANGERS
Put this halfway between a twofer and a onefer. You do get two discs (a CD and a DVD), but they’re both of the same show, so call it a one-and-a-halfer. Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that. The DVD includes two extra songs, all of the in-between Steve Martin humor, and also has a different running order. Call it a one-and-three-quartersfer.
Recorded live in 2013 for PBS’s Great Performances, most of the songs included are drawn from Steve Martin’s The Crow and Rare Bird Alert and, predominantly, from the album he and Edie Brickell recorded together, Love Has Come For You. Nine come from the latter, three each from the former—among them “The Crow,” “Jubilation Day,” the a cappella “Atheist’s Don’t Have No Songs,” and Martin’s pensive solo clawhammer tune “The Great Remember.” Edie Brickell turns in vibrant, captivating performances of the hoedown “Get Along Stray Dog” and the train-inspired “Sarah Jane And The Iron Mountain Baby.” Even her intro to the latter is vibrant. The Steep Canyon Rangers, who provide the excellent support that propels this program, get two tracks, “Stand And Deliver” and “Hunger,” both from their most recent album Tell The Ones I Love.
There are four newly-released songs. “Katie Mae,” a lively instrumental with a short vocal about making a relationship legitimate by marrying, opens the show. Fifteen tracks later comes a short string of three. “Pretty Little One” is a modern day “Pretty Polly” with a twist. “The Dance At The Wedding Song” is a Gaelic fiddle-banjo duet, while “Auden’s Train” puts an “Orange Blossom Special” feel to W.H. Auden’s 1939 poem “Calypso.” They’re all well-done, though “Pretty Little One” seems to lose appeal after the first hearing.
As live recordings go, the performance and production is first-class. There is plenty of energy and the sound levels and visuals are fine. I do think the patter is a bit long, but fortunately there’s the accompanying CD of just the music. (Rounder Records, 1209 Pine St., Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203, www.rounder.com.)BW