One of the great country duos of the '50s, Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant pretty much defined a great cult act: two blazing guitarists -- West on steel, Bryant on electric six-string -- who pushed country into the modern age with their fleet-fingered futuristic boogie. Antecedents can certainly be heard in their sound -- in particular, they're grounded in Western Swing and all of its permutations -- but that dexterous picking, when combined with their embrace of all manner of electric effects, turned their music into something head-spinningly now. This was country boogie, but it flirted with space-age bachelor pad music, which is one of the reasons Razor & Tie's 1995 collection Stratosphere Boogie -- the first CD-era collection of their work -- was perfectly timed; it fit the lounge music revival and helped bring their music to the attention of many who may not have given it a second thought. A big Bear Family box called Flamin' Guitars followed a few years later, but another single-disc comp didn't arrive until 2013, when Bear Family condensed 34 highlights onto Bustin' Thru: Flippin' the Lid. Over twice as long as the Razor & Tie set -- there is some overlap -- usually of such standards as "Stratosphere Boogie," "Pickin' Peppers," and "Flippin' the Lid" -- but this is far more thorough, offering the opportunity to showcase both their deep honky tonk roots (often in the form of support for guest singers, including the Kay Starr & Tennessee Ernie Ford duet "Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own"), the duo's enormous jazz chops, and a bit of hard-charging rockabilly. These cats could play, and hearing them rip is part of the pleasure of Flippin' the Lid, but the lasting impression is the duo's considerable imagination and how this music still sounds ahead of its time.
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