The Apostle Paul Martin – Kentucky Jukebox, Volume 1: The Country Sessions

by Chuck Dauphin

paul-martin-kyA true sign of a great project is that you are somewhat bummed when it’s over. That’s how I feel listening to this project from Paul Martin – who dazzles fans and viewers alike with his musical skills as a member of the Fabulous Superlatives on the Marty Stuart Show, where he has been dubbed by Stuart as “The Apostle.”

Of course, Martin’s musical talent was long evident before going to work for Stuart, as he has worked behind artists such as Kathy Mattea and the Oak Ridge Boys, and was lead singer for Exile during their days on Arista, helping them hit with songs like “Keep It In The Middle Of The Road.” So, the talent of Paul Martin was pretty obvious. That’s a given!

For his new collection, Martin retraces the steps of his musical foundation – back to the days when his parents, Bill and Texas Martin, had a radio show on WWKY / Winchester, KY. The elder Martin, also the MD at the station, also owned and operated a recording studio¬† and label, which he dubbed RCM (“Real Country Music”). Of course, the records his parents made – and the radio shows all figured into the influence of Martin, and that shows in the type of traditional music that he excels at.

This CD / DVD collection contains some newer recordings that feature Paul, Stuart & The Superlatives, but also he dips back into the WWKY archives for some live broadcasts that feature the musical first family of Clark County. Honestly, though you might wonder how it could be, it’s a seamless transition as the disc ebbs back and forth from the past to the present. Stuart – who serves as Executive Producer of the set, did an amazing job setting all the pieces in play and making it all sound amazing, but the star of the show is Paul Martin.

Many of the songs that Paul does have been featured on the Marty Stuart Show on RFD, so they will no doubt be familiar to fans. Kicking off with the Del Reeves hit “A Dime At A Time,” Martin and the Superlatives – with Gary Carter along for the ride on steel – sound like they are having the time of their lives – hi-fi honky tonk in amazing technicolor a la The Buckaroos. Martin sings the fire out of the classic, as he does on each cut here. “Angel On Earth,” written for wife Jamie, is a beautiful ballad where Martin gets to show his vocal chops even more, and he turns his inner rockin’ side loose on the timeless “Freeborn Man.”

I would love to tell you – for objectivity’s sake – that Martin hits a bad note here or there, or one of his tracks just isn’t up to snuff, but I can’t. If you love the classic hillbilly sounds that you might have heard in Winchester, KY, Dickson, TN, or Corinth, MS growing up on Saturday mornings on your local AM station, this disc is for you. Whether it be Wynn Stewart (“Odds And Ends”), the Wilburn Brothers (“It’s Another World”), or Charlie Rich (“There Won’t Be Anymore”), the musical reverence that Martin pays to each artist represented here is massive and you can tell it’s more than heartfelt. (On a side note, it would be a fun – if not endless, if the band performed every song they knew! I, for one, would be on the front row!)

The archival footage of Bill and Texas Martin is also worth noting. At times, if you didn’t know it was from five decades ago, you couldn’t tell it. When you hear their performances on songs like “Kentucky,” “We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds,” and “God Bless Her (Cause She’s My Mother),” you can tell where Martin got his love of music and family from. The latter comes to light on a beautiful version of Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home,” which features his wife and children, proving that the Martin Family musical circle isn’t going to go unbroken anytime soon!

Simply said, this is an incredible collection. And, though this review is almost going to touch on 700-plus words – something held only for Lee Ann Womack – I could have just said that….but you need to know about this. So, now that you do, go get it NOW!

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