Leo Kottke's voice isn't for everyone, and has led a number of guitar freaks to borrow Frank Zappa's unkind phrase: "Shut up 'n play yer guitar." Instrumentals: The Best of the Chrysalis Years will speak to these fans, as it presents 18 pieces, from "Airproofing" in 1976 to "Memories Are Made of This" in 1983. To spice the package up a bit, the folks at Blue Note have added a live track, "The Fisherman," from a notable Montreux Jazz Festival performance in 1977, and a couple of unissued tracks, including Duane Allman's "Little Martha." While most of these pieces have been penned by Kottke, he also offers delightful versions of Norman Petty's "Wheels" and the Everly Brothers' favorite "All I Have to Do Is Dream." All of Kottke's stylistic gifts come into play on Instrumentals. There's electric slide on "Whine," the use of a lovely open-tuning on "Dolores," and the clean ambience and warmth of "Strange." The tracks flow in chronological order, allowing the listener to follow the guitarist's evolution over his eight years with Chrysalis; and while the albums he recorded during this time may lack the edginess of his earlier material, the pieces on Instrumentals are consistently fresh and invigorating. Guitar hero wannabes, of course, will buy the album for the extra tracks; everyone else will find it a rewarding introduction to mid-period Kottke.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.