December 14, 1981 12:00 PM

Steve Martin

Half of this album is taken from stand-up shows Martin did in Las Vegas and at L.A.’s Comedy Store. The second side is Martin playing no-nonsense banjo with some very serious musicians (fiddler Vassar Clements, guitarists Maury Manseau II and Bill McEuen). The 10 instrumentals range from the rousing and traditional (Sally Goodin’, Waterbound) to Martin’s own crafty compositions and arrangements (Pitkin County Turn Around, Saga of the Old West). It’s the comedy side, ironically, that’s disappointing. Most of the shticks are short and aimless; the subject matter is sophomoric, focusing on body parts. There’s one long, occasionally amusing routine, his What I Believe; over stirring string music, he proclaims, “I believe…that robots are stealing my luggage…that the Battle of the Network Stars should be fought with guns,” and the one that gets the Big Yuk: “that Ronald Reagan can make this country what it once was—an Arctic region covered with ice.” His token “wild and crazy guy” bit is neither. But the comedy side does end with a fine send-up of a TV evangelist who once got the government on his back for using church funds to build a baptismal pool with whirlpool jets.

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