When Marty Stuart cut This One's Gonna Hurt You in 1991 with producers Richard Bennett and Tony Brown, he opened it with a modern country equivalent of what is now de rigueur
in the hip-hop community: a skit that became a song. The disembodied voice of Hank Williams comes out of the ether before Stuart's does; a trippy synthesizer plays in the foreground; and clapping, cheering audiences are heard between the two. But this isn't the skit; it's the track. "Me & Hank & Jumpin' Jack Flash" offers a weird, acid cowboy tale of the two meeting in outer space and having a conversation about everything from the lineage of country to rock & roll -- Marty happens to dig both and was sure Hank would've dug the Rolling Stones as well. It's a bizarre way to open a contemporary country record, but given Stuart's maverick nature, it's utterly understandable and even charming the first three or four times you hear it. After that it's best to start on track two, "High on a Mountain Top," a tough, rockin', high lonesome honky tonk tune with blazing guitars, whining fiddles (courtesy of Stuart Duncan), and a chorus of backing vocalists including Ashley Cleveland and Pam Tillis. The set gets even better from here, as evidenced by the title track, a wonderful midtempo ballad done in duet with Travis Tritt, and by Jimmie Skinner's "Doin' My Time," with a guest appearance by then father-in-law Johnny Cash. The rest walks from the very traditional reading of Cowboy Jack Clement's beer weeper "Just Between You and Me" to rockabilly on "Down Home" and jangling Rickenbacker country-pop on "Hey Baby" (both written by Paul Kennerley), another straight rocking tribute to Williams on a cover of Allen Shamblin's "The King of Dixie," and Stuart's own spunky, hard country "Honky Tonk Crowd," which closes the set. Of his early records, This One's Gonna Hurt You is truly inspired and hungry; it's the very best from the period. Even in the 21st century, it endures as a watermark for the music at the time and as one of Stuart's finest moments in a career full of great ones.