Chet Atkins

It's a Guitar World

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This attractive LP from Chester Burton Atkins purports to leap international boundaries, but for the most part, he stays right home in Nashville. Categories certainly go by the boards as Atkins seamlessly translates "What'd I Say" into his fingerpicking language and Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" gets a lovely straight-ahead treatment. There are also then-recent hits from the Tijuana Brass ("A Taste of Honey," "What Now My Love"), a quiet solo rendering of the Beatles' "For No One," and some ventures south of the border. The most intriguing, and certainly most bizarre, international experiment is a brief session with Indian sitarist Harihar Rao, who just happened to be passing through Nashville. "January in Bombay" is really "The Battle of New Orleans" with Rao strumming wildly, incoherently, on the gopi (either Rao had gone avant-garde or, more likely, he avant garde a clue), but then Rao gets some responsive sitar licks going as the track fades. "Ranjana" has a sitar lead with Atkins playing in unison, but the tune is quite Western and the backing is straight Nashville country, with a drone and a solo on one chord by Rao, and another by Atkins in his own countrified idiom. Hey, it was 1967, and India was in, but this fusion really needed a shotgun to make it happen.

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