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Pop - Released January 24, 1994 | Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Before becoming a Hollywood A-list actor, Steve Martin first made a name for himself as a writer for a number of successful stateside television variety shows. His résumé included credits on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Glen Campbell Hour, and -- during a brief stint living in Canada -- the influential Half the George Kirby Comedy Hour. By the mid-'70s Martin had paid his dues opening for rock acts and had begun to develop a highly original alternative to the typical pseudo-hip sex and drug humor of the era. Let's Get Small, Martin's debut long-player released in 1977, would further assert his anti-comedy act with a platter full of smart wordplay and aural jousting, as well as some of the artist's remarkable banjo picking and frailing. In fact, Martin kicks off the festivities with the witty "Ramblin' Man/Theme from Ramblin' Man" number, firmly establishing his multifaceted lightning-quick wit -- like dividing the room into two-sevenths and five-sevenths to participate in a mile-a-minute singalong. He one-ups the typical smarmy "Vegas" lounge act by making comparisons to the $4.50 price of admission (in 1977 dollars) to the $25 price tag of experiencing a show on the Sin City strip. The title performance of "Let's Get Small" is a clever parody of the experimental nature of the perpetually growing drug culture -- which is particularly appropriate as Martin is addressing denizens of the Boarding House nightclub in San Francisco. During "Excuse Me," he goes so far as to direct his satire at any residual hippies who might still be hanging around the venue, blaming them for the lack of functioning "mood lighting." This short bit ultimately launched one of the entertainer's most enduring catch phrases. "Mad at My Mother" is as close to a straight narrative as listeners can expect on Let's Get Small, taking a few surrealistic spins on the typical mother-son relationship. Similarly, the weird and whimsical "Grandmother's Song" reveals Martin's penchant for silly verbal non sequiturs as if they were nothing out of the ordinary. Let's Get Small was one of the rare comedy endeavors to find a mainstream audience during the height of the disco era, climbing all the way to a very respectable number ten on the pop chart and setting the stage for Martin's follow-up, 1978's A Wild and Crazy Guy. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Country - Released January 1, 2015 | New Rounder

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Film Soundtracks - Released August 25, 2017 | Ghostlight Records

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Country - Released January 1, 2013 | New Rounder

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Country - Released September 22, 2017 | New Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 2015 | New Rounder

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Country - Released September 22, 2017 | New Rounder (UMG Account)

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Country - Released January 1, 2009 | New Rounder

First off, there's no "King Tut" here, and this isn't Steve Martin with an arrow through his head using the five-string banjo as a prop and trying to be funny. The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo is exactly what the title says it is -- it's a banjo album, spotlighting Martin originals on the instrument (of the 16 tracks, all but one are his own compositions). And guess what? Martin is pretty good at the banjo, and this is no vanity project. Tracks like the stirring and revealing "Daddy Played the Banjo," the blisteringly kinetic "Hoedown at Alice's," the very pretty "Freddie's Lilt," and the expansive, even beautifully ornate "Calico Train" (there are two versions here) not only wouldn't seem out of place on any progressive bluegrass album, they'd probably be the best cuts on it. Martin has a lot of help, yes, from the likes of Mary Black, Vince Gill, Tim O'Brien, Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs (Scruggs' presence here should tell you something about Martin's playing chops), Tony Trischka, and Pete Wernick, and the album is lovingly produced by John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but make no mistake, this is completely Martin's album and it's his vision all the way. He even takes a very successful shot at frailing the banjo with the lovely and modal "Clawhammer Medley," the one non-original here. Everyone knows that Martin can be very funny, but The Crow isn't a joke. It's a first-class banjo album. One wonders if entering an archery tournament is next on this talented performer's agenda. Here's guessing Martin's probably pretty good at that, too. ~ Steve Leggett
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Pop - Released May 28, 2015 | Match

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Country - Released January 1, 2011 | New Rounder

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Country - Released January 1, 2011 | New Rounder

Dance - Released June 14, 2017 | Cv Music Label

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House - Released September 26, 2016 | Kadabra

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Trance - Released April 21, 2016 | Cv Music Label

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House - Released February 29, 2016 | Possession Records

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Dance - Released December 31, 2015 | Cv Music Label

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House - Released October 31, 2015 | SinfonyLife Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released July 22, 2014 | Dyddy Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released August 25, 2017 | Ghostlight Records

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Rock - Released July 24, 2012 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

With regard to Steve Martin's discography, "the worst" is how The Steve Martin Brothers is usually tagged, which isn't so harsh when you consider some of his other albums are classics or just plain old good. It's an oddball release for sure, with half devoted to standup -- very loose and stream-of-consciousness standup -- and the other half showing off Martin's self-taught banjo playing and his love of lively bluegrass. The worst thing about the album is the sloppy way the standup side is put together. What must be the intro to his "cocktail" act in Vegas is stuck in the middle of the set while other short bits are sequenced in a way so there's no momentum. The instrumental side of the album is actually pleasant and sometimes exciting, with Martin's fast fingers skillfully delivering these tunes with renowned folk like Vassar Clements and John McEuen at his side. Even Martin admits this was a way to finish off his contract at Warner Bros. and concentrate on acting, but it's hardly the disaster some make it out to be. It may even be the best half-standup, half-bluegrass album you'll ever hear. ~ David Jeffries