Speakers Corner Records has released an updated vinyl of a true guitar legend!
Mister Guitar – Chet Atkins – RCA Victor LSP-2103 (1959)/Speakers Corner Records (2023) 180-gram stereo vinyl, 24:43 ****1/2:
Unlike his contemporaries in 1950’s country music, Chet Atkins was not interested in becoming a rockabilly sensation. He was devoted to guitar and was renowned for his picking style. Some of his influences were Merle Travis, Django Reinhardt, Les Paul and Jerry Reed. He was inducted into several Halls Of Fame and garnered many awards. More importantly, he helped to develop the “pop-friendly” Nashville sound that broadened the appeal of this genre. He produced albums for The Everly Brothers, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. His commitment to instrumental excellence defined his career. Bands and musicians all over the world (including The Beatles) cited Atkins as a role model. A lot of his solo career was with RCA Records.
Speakers Corner Records has released a 180-gram re-mastered vinyl of the 1959 album, Mister Guitar. This was Atkins’ 11th solo album, and his versatile guitar mastery is front and center, as he re-engages with his Tennessee roots. Side 1 kicks off with the up tempo country rocker, “I Know That You Know”. Atkins’ notation and “slide-like” riffs are scintillating. With more country and western verve, “Rainbow” displays a skipping cadence and the guitarist approaches rhythm and notation like a jazz artist. His playing is self-assured and concise. Changes of tempo and precision-driven solos are magnetic. “Siesta” (an original, co-written with James Rich) establishes a nice flowing run with impactful classical flourishes and fluid shading. Atkins demonstrates his ability to cover mainstream pop songs with Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Country Style”. He captures the benign loping cadence, and frames it with subtle lines and harmony. It is a perfect blend of charm and sophistication. This unique accessibility and artistic vision is prevalent on everyone’s favorite drinking song, “Show Me The Way To Go Home”. Even with his brilliant play, the “goofy” sentiment is still there.
Atkins possesses a relaxed, intricate playing style. This combination frees him to re-interpret simple ditties like “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”. In a brief 1:30, the song is transformed. “Backwoods” is also jaunty with trademark picking and some funky syncopation. It has a rolling feel to it. One of this legend’s nicknames is “Country Gentleman”. His arrangement of that song title is warm and employs various degrees of melodic nuance and unsurpassed finger picking. With more reverb, “Slinkey” takes on an edgier bluesy, rock and roll structure. It almost sounds like a fiddle. Returning to the low-keyed resonance, “Jessie” feels like a classic Atkins performance with breezy, accessible lyricism. The chorus is exceptional. The finale is amazing. Atkins brings his country grooves to Rachmaninoff (“Concerto In C Minor”). Everyone is familiar with this piece, and now a bona fide country legend has introduced it to a new audience This is something he has done throughout his recording legacy.
More than 60 years after its release, Mr. Guitar resonates. Atkins’ unparalleled technique and arrangement skills are trend-setting, and always seem fresh. Impressively, there are 12 tracks that clock in just under twenty-five minutes.
Chet Atkins, Guitar
Side 1: I Know That You Know; Rainbow; Hello Bluebird; Siesta; Country Style; Show Me The Way To Go Home
Side 2: I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles; Backwoods; Country Gentleman; Slinkey; Jessie; Concerto In C Minor (Rachmaninoff).
More information through Acoustic Sounds