Chet Atkins - Guitar Legend: The RCA Years
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Guitar Legend: The RCA Years (Buddha, 2000)

Chet Atkins

Reviewed by Henry Koretzky

Few musicians have had such impact, both as musician and producer, as Chet Atkins. But leaving aside one's feelings about his popularizing of the Nashville Sound, it's as Guitar Legend that this masterful picker is celebrated here. Two CDs and 50 tracks - 4 previously unreleased - display a stylistic versatility that his more mainstream albums never showcased.

The dazzling swing of "Canned Heat," supported by hot fiddle and accordion, give way to forays into R & B ("Tweedle Dee") and western swing ("Silver Bell," with Hank Snow). Fans of mandolin wizard Jethro Burns (Homer & Jethro) and fiddler Dale Potter will want to check out their many sizzling breaks that seemed to spur the guitarist on to greater daring and flash of his own. While the second disc is more easy listening, there are exceptions like the live jazz of "Frankie and Johnnie." The elderly Atkins, slowly recovering from brain surgery, deserves to have his six-string heroics honored, and this lovingly lauds his influence and imagination. Atkins' post-Merle Travis innovations live on through many prot+g+s, but nothing matches the original.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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