Although 1961's The Most Popular Guitar and 1962's Down Home are nearly successive albums in Chet Atkins' catalog, separated only by the holiday collection Christmas With Chet Atkins, and thus would seem to make a logical pairing in One Way Records' two-fer Atkins reissue campaign, they are very different collections. In 1961, Atkins hit the pop Top Ten with his 12th 12" LP, Chet Atkins' Workshop, which seems to have inspired his record label, RCA Victor, to suppose that the country guitarist could be turned into a Nashville version of Percy Faith or Ray Conniff. So, the label titled his next release The Most Popular Guitar and put a female model in a state of undress on the cover while filling up the grooves with lush orchestrations and a sighing chorus. Atkins got to poke his guitar neck in here and there, but the album was really an exercise in easy listening styles. Yet the experiment didn't work; the album didn't sell very well. So, RCA seems to have let Atkins go back to his instincts on his next album, and Down Home, displaying on the cover a picture of the homely guitarist on a front porch with his faithful dog at his feet, was a return to the country picking for which he was known. Combining such different approaches on a single disc is odd, but the package is tied together by Atkins' playing, which is always tasteful, no matter the surroundings.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann