Recruiting Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives to back them on their Sweetheart of the Rodeo 50th Anniversary tour wasn’t the only stroke of genius Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman had in 2019.

Once on stage, they wisely bookended the 1968 LP – recorded with temporary Byrd Gram Parsons and widely considered to mark the birth of country-rock – with such songs as “My Back Pages,” “Wasn’t Born to Follow,” “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” and others and made no effort recreate the album. Instead, they played the songs as they would sound many decades down the pike and allowed Stuart & His Fab Supes to play like themselves.

As such, the band adds some extra country flavor to such songs as “Mr. Spaceman” and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” while proving themselves proper psychedelic warriors on “Eight Miles High” and injecting a touch of rock ’n’ roll attitude to Sweetheart of the Rodeo tracks like “Nothing Was Delivered” and “You’re Still on My Mind.” 

That’s not to say they bastardize the Sweetheart – because they don’t. But it is to say they present it in a purely in-the-moment fashion that’s captured beautifully on Sweetheart of the Rodeo 50th Anniversary – Live. As it goes, performing a landmark album such as Sweetheart when it’s a half-century in the rearview has no business working so well.

McGuinn and Hillman emcee the show, telling short stories about the songs to present what McGuinn calls “the back pages” of Sweetheart, and allowing Stuart to take over the stage on “A Satisfied Mind.” The 25 songs fly by in 80 minutes, providing a stupendous document for those who attended the tour and a generous you-screwed-up-buddy to those who did not.