Chet Atkins / Merle Travis

Atkins-Travis Traveling Show

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A little surprisingly, although Chet Atkins and Merle Travis had played together before the January 1974 session resulting in The Atkins-Travis Traveling Show, they'd never done so for an official release. With producer Jerry Reed (himself no small country guitar legend) adding rhythm guitar on a few tracks, the duo ran through some old favorites ("Muskrat Ramble," "Cannonball Rag," Travis' own "Nine Pound Hammer"), pop standards ("Who's Sorry Now"), and even a couple Shel Silverstein songs on this low-key album. Neither Atkins nor Travis had anything to prove by the time this pairing rolled around, and there's something of an "old friends getting together for the heck of it" feel to both their picking and their relaxed, almost nonchalant occasional vocals. It was a refreshingly plain production for a time when the country scene in which Atkins and Travis had started as youngsters was getting pretty slick. At the same time, there's a lack of ambition to the endeavor that makes it a secondary curiosity in both men's catalogs, and certainly not one of the top places to start as showcases for their formidable abilities.

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