Bonnie Guitar

By the Fireside

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A most unusual release even by the standards of archive compilations of unissued material, this CD has 15 previously unavailable tracks recorded by Bonnie Guitar in early 1959 that feature her singing with only her own electric guitar playing as accompaniment. (Note that while the back cover refers to these as unissued 1958 recordings, the detailed discography of the sessions in the booklet makes clear that these were cut in January and February of 1959.) The sparse, though clear, production and arrangements give these performances a demo feel, though Guitar herself recalls in the liner notes that the material laid down in these three sessions (which actually produced nearly 30 songs in all) were not intended as demos. There's some original material by Guitar and Don Robertson (co-writer of Eddy Arnold's hit "I Really Don't Want to Know"), but the emphasis is on covers of well-known songs popularized by the likes of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley ("I Forgot to Remember to Forget"), Jimmie Rodgers ("Honeycomb"), and Ivory Joe Hunter ("I Almost Lost My Mind"). Although this was recorded not long after Guitar had a Top Ten pop hit (with 1957's "Dark Moon"), the oddity of these performances probably does mostly confine their appeal to serious Guitar fans, or at least to serious fans of country-pop from that period. Within those confines, however, it's a likable and highly professional-sounding set. Guitar has a pleasant clear voice, if one a little lacking in individuality of expression. Her guitar is cleanly picked with a good sense of dynamic rhythm, albeit in a subdued fashion that makes it seem a little like an "unplugged" session although the instrument's electric.

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