Raven's 2014 double-disc set Four Master Class Albums 1978-1997 collects four duet albums Chet Atkins recorded with four different world-class guitarists during the last act of his career. The first is Guitar Monsters, credited to Chester & Lester, aka Chet Atkins and Les Paul. With Paul, Atkins relies primarily on jazz standards (they do find space for Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Meditation"), which is thoroughly pleasant and fine, but perhaps the most telling moment is the pretty silly "I'm Your Greatest Fan," where they shuck and jive and trade licks and corny jokes. It's not a major statement, it's just some fun. Neck and Neck, Atkins' 1990 album with Mark Knopfler, isn't quite a lark. Recorded near the peak of Knopfler's stardom with Dire Straits, this is cheerful yet sober, two exacting guitarists getting things just right; it's as immaculate an album as Atkins ever made. On the other side of that spectrum is 1992's Sneakin' Around, where Chet once again pairs with his old running partner Jerry Reed and the two do another amiable jam session. "The Claw" is dragged out again, pleasurable as always, and they have some smiles with Reed originals. If the cavernous production sometimes sinks the record -- "Summertime" and "Nifty Fifties" drown in pristine echo -- it's still worth a smile. Finally, there's The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World, a 1997 duet with Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. Again, the production is a little bit too clean but this is perhaps the most robust record here, Atkins and Emmanuel clearly enjoying their amiable sparring match. All in all, a pretty good selection of pretty nice records.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
The Day Finter Pickers Took Over the World [Originally Titled: The Day Bass Players Took Over the World]