Chet Atkins

Hum & Strum Along With Chet Atkins/The Other Chet Atkins

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This entry in One Way Records' series of two-fer reissues of Chet Atkins' RCA catalog combines two albums that were one-offs, and thus not easy to pair with any other of his records. Hum & Strum Along With Chet Atkins, from 1959, was an album on which Atkins, taking a cue from Mitch Miller's popular Sing Along With Mitch LPs, assembled a group of folk songs and other popular tunes, and then brought in a chorus to sing them, adding his characteristic guitar work in the background, the idea being that listeners would sing (or at least hum) along. Needless to say, the result is not much of a showcase for Atkins, and after the album failed to sell, he didn't repeat the gimmick. On the other hand, 1960's The Other Chet Atkins is very much an Atkins showcase, albeit one on which he picks up a nylon-stringed Spanish guitar and tries his hand at a bunch of Latin (or at least Latin-esque) tunes, beginning with Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." The choice of a Broadway composer's take on a Latin form as the opening track should give some indication of how authentically Spanish Atkins is willing to get (he even includes a version of Marty Robbins' "Streets of Laredo," Laredo, TX, being on the Mexican border). But what matters is the playing, and Atkins proves as effective on Spanish guitar as he is on any other six-stringed instrument.

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