Thumbs Carllile

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This guitarist came up with a style all his own, as a good musician should, but is mostly known through a lick here and there on various hits by his old boss, Roger Miller. One could keep worse company than Miller, who definitely helped Thumbs Carllile's recording career during the years with Smash. The gimmick with the Carllile style is that he mainly uses his thumb to pick with, hence the nickname he was given while a sideman for Little Jimmy Dickens (and apparently was not overly fond of). If one is going to use an appendage to play the guitar with, a thumb is a good choice because is fat, fleshy, and resonant. It is that all too rare combination of swing and country that makes Carllile enjoyable to listen to, although his recordings of this sort are similar to some of the work of Nashville session pro Chet Atkins: overly controlled, cheesy choice of tunes, and stodgy playing at times. But there are some great tracks, particularly the kickoffs to each side: one a funky original and the other a killer version of "On the Street Where You Live."

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