Benny Martin

The Greatest Hits of Benny Martin

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This guy is a pretty hot fiddler, when he wants to be, and even is known as the originator of the eight-string fiddle in bluegrass. The cover of this hits collection is a large color close up of the man sweating over his fiddle. No information is given about where the shot was taken, in fact there is not much information about anything available on the jacket, save for song titles and composers. But we can be sure the picture was not taken at any of the recording sessions here, because Martin barely breaks a sweat on his instrument. And, unfortunately, there were long stretches of his career where he had to downplay instrumental virtuosity to suit the trends in the marketplace. There are many tracks here that barely feature fiddle at all, and the ones that do are along the lines of the half-hearted "Orange Blossom Special," complete with an el wimpo fade. Martin's vocal talents keep things from being a complete write-off, however. He has a deep, and thick country & western voice similar to artists such as Hank Locklin. This is an album of country played as straight as possible, the pedal steel the only instrument with any kind of electric sound to it. Although some tracks lack a spark, there are several that are absolutely classic, most notably "Falling Star," a career-on-the-skids tune that makes a good companion to John Fogerty's "Lodi." The clever country songwriter Bobby Braddock is represented with "Three Hundred Thousand Unmarried Women in Georgia," but it turns out the title is the best thing about this one.

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