Les Paul


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This brief but sturdy collection of mid-century guitar hero and recording pioneer Les Paul contains a nice mix of the artist's playing styles, from more unencumbered, jazz combo pieces like "Guitar Boogie" and "Caravan" to wild, early multi-tracking masterpieces like "Brazil" and "Lover." Released in May of 2015 to coincide with what would have been Paul's 100th birthday (June 9, to be exact), Icon pulls material from his prolific Capitol and Decca years in a roughly half-and-half split between instrumental pieces and songs featuring then-wife Mary Ford on vocals. In their early-'50s heyday, Les Paul & Mary Ford's sophistication, style, and playfulness were unmatched and tracks like the wonderful "How High the Moon" and "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise" still sound as vibrant and inventive as ever. At only 11 songs, Universal could have expanded this volume with plenty more prime highlights, but as a budget introduction to one of America's great musical legends, you could do a lot worse.

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