Chet Atkins

My Favorite Guitars

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Whether as a reaction to the perceived chaos of rock & roll or just an extension of pop trends already at work, easy listening instrumentals (or in more current terms lounge music) became prevalent in the '50s and '60s. They served as background for pool parties and were popularized by movie and TV soundtracks. Thankfully, besides many bland creations, there existed the provocative and even somewhat innovative work of Esquivel, Martin Denny, Henry Mancini, and others. Chet Atkins own smooth, countrypolitan hat was thrown into the ring around 1960: almost two dozen titles were released during the decade, full of a variety of standards from all types of music. And while Atkins can't be considered an exception to the elevator music pack for his arranging and compositional skills, he does deserve special mention for his top-notch pickin' and the willingness to stretch beyond his Nashville base to incorporate jazz, classical, rock, and even shades of Far Eastern, African, and South American music. 1964's My Favorite Guitars helps prove the point, as Atkins tours the world's guitar shop, soft shouldering Chopin, Jobim, Ellington, and various global ditties while coming up with consistently impressive solos (the favorite guitars in question, as heard throughout the disc, are his signature Gretsch "Country Gentleman" electric guitar; some vaguely indigenous, South American acoustic model he calls the "Los Indios Tabajaras"; and a Spanish classical guitar). The playing is as smooth as the musical backdrops, so don't expect any gratuitous displays of technique. Not his best effort but worth the two dollars for a used LP copy.

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