Chet Atkins

Guitar Legend: The RCA Years

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Considering the incredible amount of influence and prestige Chet Atkins has pumped into country music in the last 50 years, it's strange that there aren't more greatest-hits packages on the market of real value. While RCA's Essential Chet Atkins attempts the near-impossible task of condensing the guitarist's vast 30-year output onto a single disc, Bear Family's four-disc box is characteristically too exhaustive and expensive to be practical. With 50 tracks spanning from his first recordings in 1947 to the Nashville Guitar Quartet sessions 30 years later, the two-disc retrospective Guitar Legend is arguably the first affordable collection to paint a comprehensive picture. Despite the inclusion of a vocal track, "Tellin' My Troubles to My Old Guitar," the set is focused on the stylistic innovations Atkins brought to Travis-picking, and thus, country music. Each phase of his development is documented, with an emphasis on his classic early group recordings. His saccharine '60s output receives minor attention, as do his ventures into straight jazz, allowing plenty of room for his trademark fingerpicking to be heard without the strings and other excesses that tended to clutter his albums. Most of his hits are here, as well as a few tracks previously unissued in the U.S.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:35
2 2:31
3 2:42
4
2:45
5 2:39
6 2:28
7 2:40
8 2:16
9 2:38
10 2:09
11 2:36
12 2:36
13 2:14
14 1:59
15 2:19
16 2:46
17 2:19
18 2:21
19 2:13
20 2:13
21 2:14
22 2:08
23 2:22
24 2:56
25 2:14
blue highlight denotes track pick