Chet Atkins

And His Guitar

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This album dates from a point where, ironically enough, Chet Atkins' own stock had declined somewhat in the face of the British Invasion (this despite the debt that most British Invasion acts from the Beatles on down owed Atkins, if only for his work with the Everly Brothers). "The Bells of St. Mary's" is a beautiful example of Atkins' art, presenting the song with just enough reverence to retain the feel of the original while lending a cheerful spring to it that's unique to his instrument and approach. "Centipede Boogie" utilizes a few phrases that will sound familiar from Carl Perkins' "Honey Don't" and other rock & roll standards, but is played with a tempo and dexterity that would have eluded most rock & rollers of the era. Between the pop standards, bluegrass pieces, and blues and rags, the sheer diversity of the material will keep most listeners fascinated, and coming back for a second and third listen in the same sitting. Actually, the whole release -- apart from one vocal number, "Peek-a-Boo Moon," where a chorus carries the lyric -- recalls the albums that Merle Travis was doing for Capitol around this time, and the comparison is made more obvious by the presence of Travis' "Walkin' on Strings." Strangely enough, there's an odd shift in ambience on one set of tracks, "High Rockin' Swing" revealing a completely different texture and ambience from anything around it, with a more distant presence and totally different surrounding acoustic.

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