Friday, August 15, 2008

The Steve Martin Brothers

The Steve Martin Brothers
Published on CD in 2006 by Wounded Bird Records
Originally published on LP in 1981 by Warner Bros.

"Well good evening, motherfuckers. You probably think of me as the happy-go lucky 'Wild And Crazy Guy' you see on TV---that's a lot of fuckin' bullshit. I just do that to earn a living. This is the real me, so fuck you."

That's from the intro to the second track from Steve Martin on this album. It seems to exemplify this release, being that:

It is Steve Martin's last comedy album.
It is just over thirty minutes in length.
It contains very little comedy, some of it written by Jack Handey of Saturday Night Live and performed by Steve Martin.
Over half the album is banjo music.

An interview with The Banjo Newsletter indicates how old the banjo music was, and Steve Martin's own opinion of the album:

Banjo Newsletter: (The Steve Martin Brothers) came out in '81, so these cuts were already 10 years old at the time, right?

SM: Yeah. By that time I was out of comedy material. I needed to put something on the record. I think I had a contract to come up with another record. I really didn't have [enough material for] one; I'd sort of moved on from standup at that point.

This album was not even published by Warner Music on CD, as was the past few Steve Martin Albums: Let's Get Small, A Wild and Crazy Guy, and Comedy is Not Pretty. This CD was licensed from Warner Music by Wounded Bird Records, which typically shuttles out re-issues of lesser known albums from artists. So, Warner Bros. didn't even want to re-issue their very own Steve Martin album. That should tell you something.

It should also tell you something that the banjo music is the more entertaining part of this album. In fact the banjo music was the entire B side of the LP, as indicated by the dual nature of martin on the cover.

As to be expected from banjo music, it has a lot of nice, upbeat tunes, some of which with musical accompaniment by flute and fiddle. It really showcases Martin's skill as a musician which is often overlooked as nowadays as he does Cheaper by the Dozen 27: Cheap Harder.

That last part segues nicely into the downside of this album, the poor jokes. The two comedy tracks on this album, creatively labeled "Cocktail Show, Vegas" and "Comedy Store, Hollywood" are obviously thrown on there with all the care of a Starbuck's worker on their third consecutive shift in five days being asked to brew an espresso at exactly 279 degrees.

The Comedy Store routines are slightly better than the Cocktail Show routines, which actually ends with Steve Martin pointing out Carl Reiner and Eddie Fisher in the audience. All of which you can't see. Perhaps it's an existentialist joke, or perhaps, as said before, Martin just didn't care at this point. You get that sense throughout the entire series of comedy bits. The jokes fall flat, the enthusiasm is faked. It's obviously still Steve Martin, but it's Steve Martin tired of stand up.

Overall, I would say get this if you are a Steve Martin fan and really want the complete set of albums or haven't heard enough of his banjo music. Which, again, is quite good.

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