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The Essential Chet Atkins [Legacy]

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
A man of class and vision, Chet Atkins cut such a wide swath through country music history that a two-disc sampling of his work as a solo artist and accompanist tells but a bit of the whole story. A visionary producer and talent scout, he (along with Owen Bradley) built the modern Nashville recording industry in the '50s and re-energized country's flagging commercial appeal by adding strings and vocal choruses and ejecting the fiddle and pedal steel. He influenced several generations of country, rock, and jazz guitarists and championed music without borders, as evidenced here by his impeccably realized eclectic guitar stylings for artists ranging from Mother Maybelle ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
A man of class and vision, Chet Atkins cut such a wide swath through country music history that a two-disc sampling of his work as a solo artist and accompanist tells but a bit of the whole story. A visionary producer and talent scout, he (along with Owen Bradley) built the modern Nashville recording industry in the '50s and re-energized country's flagging commercial appeal by adding strings and vocal choruses and ejecting the fiddle and pedal steel. He influenced several generations of country, rock, and jazz guitarists and championed music without borders, as evidenced here by his impeccably realized eclectic guitar stylings for artists ranging from Mother Maybelle Carter and her daughters to the Everly Brothers to Lenny Breau to Mark Knopfler. The first of these two discs surveys Atkins's output from 1946 through 1959, starting with his first recording, "Guitar Blues (Pickin' the Blues)" for the Bullet label; Disc 2 begins in '59 and wends its way through the decades, concluding with a cut from the Almost Alone solo sessions in 1995. It's an amazing journey in six-string discourse, with Atkins proudly and liberally quoting influences from Merle Travis to Django Reinhardt at every turn and engaging in playful sonic experiments (such as 1956's "Trambone" and 1959's "Boo Boo Stick Beat") that are both clever and accessible. The playing is precise and clean but never lacking in soul or wit, and at times the shifting textures within a song are startling (check out the fanciful take on "Listen to the Mocking Bird," tellingly retitled "Hot Mocking Bird"). Two especially precious moments: Atkins's driving guitar behind Don Gibson on "Oh Lonesome Me," one of country's great recordings; and a genial vocal and instrumental dialogue with Merle Travis on Shel Silverstein's "Is Anything Better than This." Well, no.
All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
Chet Atkins is more esteemed as a session musician and producer than as a solo artist, and critics have rightly noted that much of his immense catalog as a solo artist is unimpressive. It might thus be assumed that it would be difficult to pick a two-CD, 40-track career-spanning retrospective that would both represent much of his finest solo output and appeal to the general listener, not just the country music scholar. Happily, this set manages the difficult feat of doing exactly that, owing to intelligent selection of a wide cross-section of tracks, going all the way back to a 1946 single by Chester Atkins & the All-Star Hillbillies and all the way up to a 1995 recording though most of the set predates 1970. Atkins' virtuosity as a guitarist has never been in question, but here it's allied with good material and taste, showing him as a fine blender of hillbilly, boogie, and jazz styles in a variety of contexts. It's mostly instrumental, of course, but wisely his talents as a sideman are showcased here and there too on vocal sides by the Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle, Eddy Arnold, the Everly Brothers, and Don Gibson. Even the pop standards are good when chosen this judiciously, and there are some surprisingly bold moves into more electric and rock-influenced territory on cuts like "Slinkey" with its innovative tremolo, "Boo Boo Stick Beat," the Shadows cover "Man of Mystery," and "Teen Scene" which he co-wrote with Jerry Reed. It might not be the ultimate Atkins compilation, given the sheer quantity of material the guitarist recorded. But it's a good -- and, more crucially, very listenable -- starting point for surveying his work as a solo artist.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/24/2007
  • Label: Rca
  • UPC: 886970767729
  • Catalog Number: 707677
  • Sales rank: 22,862

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Guitar Blues (Pickin' the Blues) - Chester Atkins & the All-Star Hillbillies (2:50)
  2. 2 Bug Dance - Chet Atkins & His Colorado Mountain Boys (2:56)
  3. 3 Dizzy Strings - Chet Atkins & His Colorado Mountain Boys (2:43)
  4. 4 Centipede Boogie - Chet Atkins & His Guitar Pickers (2:41)
  5. 5 Mainstreet Breakdown - Chet Atkins & His Guitar Pickers (2:17)
  6. 6 Root, Hog or Die - Mother Maybelle (2:33)
  7. 7 Jitterbug Waltz (2:37)
  8. 8 The Third Man Theme (2:25)
  9. 9 Black Mountain Rag (2:16)
  10. 10 Country Gentleman (2:15)
  11. 11 City Slicker (2:21)
  12. 12 Mister Sandman (2:17)
  13. 13 The Poor People of Paris (Jean's Song) (1:59)
  14. 14 Big D - Eddy Arnold (2:17)
  15. 15 Trambone (2:13)
  16. 16 Should We Tell Him - The Everly Brothers (2:08)
  17. 17 Hidden Charm (2:31)
  18. 18 Oh Lonesome Me - Don Gibson (2:34)
  19. 19 I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (1:36)
  20. 20 Slinkey (2:01)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Boo Boo Stick Beat (2:10)
  2. 2 Hot Mocking Bird (2:12)
  3. 3 The Slop (2:18)
  4. 4 Man of Mystery (2:05)
  5. 5 Wheels (2:31)
  6. 6 Teen Scene (2:00)
  7. 7 Freight Train (2:05)
  8. 8 Satan's Doll (3:51)
  9. 9 Yakety Axe (2:06)
  10. 10 A Taste of Honey (2:41)
  11. 11 Drive In (2:20)
  12. 12 Get on with It (2:11)
  13. 13 Cannonball Rag (2:14)
  14. 14 Take Five (2:44)
  15. 15 Is Anything Better Than This - Merle Travis (2:30)
  16. 16 It's Been a Long, Long Time - Les Paul (3:32)
  17. 17 Polka Dots and Moonbeams - Lenny Breau (5:51)
  18. 18 Poor Boy Blues - Mark Knopfler (4:04)
  19. 19 Sneakin' Around - Jerry Reed (4:28)
  20. 20 Big Foot (1:40)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Chet Atkins Primary Artist
Technical Credits
Chet Atkins Producer
Lenny Breau Producer
Anita Kerr Producer
Chester B. Atkins Producer
Archie Bleyer Producer
Daryl Dybka Producer
Bob Ferguson Producer
Charles Randolph Grean Producer
Mark Knopfler Producer
Rich Kienzle Liner Notes
Stephen H. Sholes Producer
Bob Irwin Producer
Vic Anesini Mastering
R.L. Kass Composer
Tim Morse Art Direction
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