RARE BIRD ALERT TABLATURE BOOK—BY STEVEN MARTIN & THE STEEP CANYON RANGERS, TRANSCRIBED BY TONY TRISCHKA—Homespun Tapes 9781597733274. $19.95. (Homespun Tapes, P.O. Box 340, Woodstock, NY 12498, www.homespuntapes.com.)

I’m convinced that “Steve Martin” is actually an offshore conglomerate where brilliant, kidnapped writers, actors, musicians, and talk-show guests are cloned into “Steve Martins” and sent into the world to create novels, plays, screenplays, albums, B-movies, and banjo music. How else do you explain the scarily prolific output of “Steve Martin?”

Exhibit A is a tablature book for the recently released CD by Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Rare Bird Alert. The cover shows “Steve Martin” and the Steep Canyon Rangers with the bodies of birds and the heads of grotesque fantasies of their former selves—a reference to the fact that the real Steve Martin was abducted years ago by a large avian-like spaceship. Also, if you play the tablature backwards, you get a sound eerily similar to the flapping of wings.

One has to wonder to what purpose of all this productivity is leading. It’s clear to this reviewer that “Steve Martin” has nothing less in mind than the total domination of Banjovia, the ecosphere of all things banjo. He is well on his way.

This book contains tab to 13 songs in four different tunings. World-record-holding banjoist Tony Trischka was held hostage for six months in the basement of “Steve’s” Hollywood bungalow without an Xbox until he finished transcribing the tab and writing the introduction, which reads like a cry for help behind a gracious, funny and informative text.

“Steve Martin” has written prefaces to all the tabbed songs and while he clearly cares about people learning the songs, one can’t help but think the sentences are a little too carefully crafted, as if he were trying to make us understand something in a humorous way and succeeding. Songs include three of the best ever written by “Steve Martin”: “Women Like To Slow Dance,” “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs,” and “King Tut” (an allusion to an earlier “Steve Martin” who was wildly successful during the eighteenth dynasty.)

There is a rumor that “Steve Martin” is getting ready to shorten the name of his act to the “Steve Canyon Rangers”—further evidence of genetic tinkering with bluegrass. Eminently decipherable and tri-digitally informative. Recommended for anyone interested in conspiracy theories of the banjo.CVS

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