Various Artists

Takoma Slide

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Comparable to Hawaiian guitar playing in some respects but a lot rougher and grittier, slide guitar is an innovation which came from the Mississippi Delta blues of the 19th century. The advent of slide guitar playing preceded recording technology, and it wasn't documented by the recording industry until the 1910s. Thankfully, though, a lot of slide playing would be recorded in subsequent decades. This rewarding compilation, released in 1999, focuses on a variety of slide recordings that were made for Takoma in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. While acoustic country-blues items from greats like Son House ("Preachin' Blues" in 1964) and Bukka White ("New Orleans Streamline") play an important role on Takoma Slide, this isn't strictly a blues collection. In fact, one hears the slide technique being employed on everything from the instrumental folk of Leo Kottke ("Vaseline Machine Gun") and John Fahey ("Poor Boy") to the bluesy gospel of the Rev. Robert Wilkins ("O Lord I Want You to Help Me"). One of the CD's most interesting tracks is guitarist Michael Bloomfield's instrumental "At the Cross," an unlikely mixture of gospel, country, and Hawaiian music. To be sure, slide guitar was a product of the blues, but Takoma Slide underscores the fact that one needn't be a blues purist to use the technique effectively.

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