Speedy West

Steel Guitar

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    8
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Along with partner and guitarist Jimmy Bryant, pedal steel virtuoso Speedy West played on several thousand sides and worked with hundreds of vocalists including Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn, Frank Sinatra, Jim Reeves, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Bing Crosby. West's sometimes histrionic and cartoon-like playing is easily recognizable and comes out of his total command of the instrument. In fact, due to their wild flights and seamless interplay, many observers have labeled West and Bryant the Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie of country. West's innovative use of bebop licks and phrasing is certainly heard often on this 1960 solo record for Capitol. In particular, cuts like "Caffeine Patrol" and "Flippin' the Lid" find him in a briskly swinging mood and even trading fours with his guitarist (no credits are listed for the album). Of course, considering his vast studio resume, West delves into a variety of genres and styles here, including western swing, Hawaiian music, sentimental cowboy ballads, and blues. And thankfully, West never overdoes the guitar pyrotechnics; his occasional zinger and slinky-toy flourishes are always dropped strategically. Maybe not as crucial a first disc purchase as one of the two fine compilations on Razor & Tie (which also feature Bryant), but still a very fine album.

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