Chet Atkins

From Nashville with Love: Solo Flights

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Though incredibly busy running RCA Victor's Nashville operation, Chet Atkins still found some time and enterprise to perform some musical experiments on his own. It was a simple idea, really, replacing the two lower strings on his electric guitar with the E and A strings from an electric bass, thus lowering the tone by an octave and creating a fuller balance. With this idea, Atkins' disarmingly easygoing fingerpicking facility threatened to put every bass player in Nashville out of business, but the so-called "Octabass Guitar" evidently wasn't pursued much further. Indeed, only on side one of this LP do listeners hear the new instrument on a series of mostly jazz and pop standards -- including the newly minted Joe Zawinul soul/jazz vehicle "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy." The bass strings give the tracks a different sound, but since one man is playing two parts in the same unified manner style, listeners will not really perceive the illusion of a genuine guitar/bass duet. The side also contains a polished remake of "Chet's Tune," the song on which just about every artist on RCA Victor's Nashville roster had pitched in on to surprise their label boss earlier that year. Side two is simplicity itself; delicate, lovingly caressed solo acoustic guitar tracks with only an occasional celesta or hi-hat cymbal set in the background. Give "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" the most points for likeability on this low-key side. All told, this is one of Atkins' more pleasing collections from that era.

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