George Barnes

Guitars: Pure and Honest

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George Barnes and Bucky Pizzarelli recorded this guitar session after performing as a duo at the Upstairs at the Downstairs for several months prior to making this album, so they were very familiar with each others' playing, which is firmly rooted in swing. With Pizzarelli on a seven-string instrument, and Barnes on the usual six-string, they tackle a wide-ranging program, which includes swing classics, a bit of boogie, standards, originals, and even lame pop songs of the day. Obviously, gems like "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Blue Skies" turn out better than Paul Williams' nauseating "We've Only Just Begun" (which at least omits its banal, repetitious lyrics), and another hit for the Carpenters, Burt Bacharach's sickeningly sweet "(They Long to Be) Close to You." But the duo actually make something out of Blood, Sweat and Tears' biggest hit, "Spinning Wheel." Sadly, they only recorded as a duo once more, a few months after this 1971 date, before Barnes' untimely death in 1977. Like all of their work together, this long unavailable LP (released by A&R) won't be easy to acquire.

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