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Early Years 1946-1957

The Early Years 1946-1957

by Chet Atkins
In 1947, when the first material in this five-disc box set was cut, Chet Atkins (still using his given name Chester) was a struggling journeyman guitarist looking for a steady gig. By the end of disc five, Atkins was firmly established as one of Nashville's top-call sessionmen and a successful producer and A&R man at RCA Victor's Nashville office, and while Atkins'


In 1947, when the first material in this five-disc box set was cut, Chet Atkins (still using his given name Chester) was a struggling journeyman guitarist looking for a steady gig. By the end of disc five, Atkins was firmly established as one of Nashville's top-call sessionmen and a successful producer and A&R man at RCA Victor's Nashville office, and while Atkins' skill as a guitarist is a constant throughout these recordings, what's most telling is the context of his performances. The Early Years 1946-1957 opens with Atkins' debut single, "Guitar Blues (Picking the Blues)" and "Brown Eyes," cut for the tiny Bullet label who dropped him shortly afterward (a decision they doubtless came to regret), which leans towards the Western swing style of Bob Wills but with a mellower feel and more concise arrangements. Much of the first two discs is devoted to similar upbeat hillbilly sounds, though Atkins' famous air of sophistication often makes its presence known. His picking also reveals the clear influence of his friend and mentor Merle Travis, though it doesn't take long for the student to equal and even surpass the master at his own style. Atkins also sings on a surprising number of these tunes, and while he's a better picker than a vocalist, there's a warm, ingratiating quality to his vocals that's genuine and winning. By disc three, the dawn of the countrypolitan era is upon us, and there's a noticeably stronger pop influence in the material and production (and whoever suggested Atkins should incorporate an organ in his arrangements should have been sent to bed without supper), but if the surfaces are slicker, Atkins' picking (which suggests he'd been listening to Les Paul and Django Reinhardt and taking some notes) remains splendid, while the vocal selections usually have the singing handed over to guests. The bulk of the selections on discs four and five were cut when Atkins was renowned as one of Nashville's leading studio musicians, and they reflect the easy confidence of a man who was making music to please himself as much as his audience; the repertoire is devoted to pop tunes of the day, old standards, and jazzed-up arrangements of classical melodies, and the effortlessly dazzling guitar work is accompanied by the most minimal backing, sometimes just a drummer keeping time with brushes. While the selections from the '40s were clearly sourced from 78s, the remastering for the most part is quite good, and the liner notes offer an admirable amount of information on the sessions, as well as a lengthy biographical essay from Drew Kent. The result is an entertaining and compelling look at the formative years of a crucial figure in the growth of country music, and guitar fans will get a fine buzz from the first-class picking that graces nearly every cut.

Product Details

Release Date:
Jsp Records


Disc 1

  1. Guitar Blues (Picking the Blue)
  2. Brown Eyes
  3. Ain'tcha Tired of Makin' Me Blue
  4. I'm Gonna Get Tight
  5. Canned Heat
  6. Standing Room Only
  7. Don't Hand Me That Line
  8. Bug Dance
  9. (I Know My Baby Loves Me) In Her Own Peculiar Way
  10. The Nashville Jump
  11. My Guitar Is My Sweetheart
  12. I'm Pickin' the Blues
  13. Gone, Gone, Gone
  14. Barnyard Shuffle
  15. Save Your Money
  16. (I May Be Color Blind But) I Know When I'm Blue
  17. I've Been Working on the Guitar
  18. Dizzy Strings
  19. Money, Marbles and Chalk
  20. Wednesday Night Waltz
  21. Guitar Waltz
  22. Tellin' My Troubles to My Old Guitar
  23. Dance of the Goldenrod
  24. Galloping on the Guitar
  25. Barber Shop Rag
  26. Centipede Boogie
  27. Under the Hickory Nut Tree
  28. I Was Bitten by the Same Bug Twice
  29. One More Chance
  30. The Old Buck Dance

Disc 2

  1. Boogie Man Boogie
  2. Main Street Breakdown
  3. Confusin'
  4. Music in My Heart
  5. Indian Love Call
  6. Birth of the Blues
  7. Mountain Melody
  8. You're Always Brand New
  9. My Crazy Heart
  10. Hybrid Corn
  11. Jitterbug Waltz
  12. One Man Boogie
  13. Crazy Rhythm
  14. Crazy Rhythm
  15. Rustic Dance
  16. Rainbow
  17. In the Mood
  18. Spanish Fandango
  19. Midnight
  20. Good-Bye Blues
  21. Your Mean Little Heart
  22. Sweet Bunch of Daisies
  23. Blue Gypsy
  24. The Third Man Theme
  25. St. Louis Blues
  26. Nobody's Sweetheart
  27. Lover Come Back to Me
  28. Stephen Foster Melody
  29. Hangover Blues
  30. Imagination
  31. Black Mountain Rag
  32. Guitar Polka

Disc 3

  1. Dream Train
  2. Meet Mister Callaghan
  3. Chinatown, My Chinatown
  4. High Rockin' Swing
  5. Pig Leaf Rag
  6. Oh by Jingo
  7. Hello Ma Baby
  8. The Bells of St. Mary's
  9. Country Gentlemen
  10. Memphis Blues
  11. Alice Blue Gown
  12. Twelfth Street Rag
  13. Peeping Tom
  14. Three O'Clock in the Morning
  15. Georgia Camp Meeting
  16. City Slicker
  17. Dill Pickle Rag
  18. Rubber Doll Rag
  19. Beautiful Ohio
  20. Kentucky Derby
  21. Wildwood Flower
  22. Guitars on Parade
  23. Simple Simon
  24. Get Up and Go
  25. Pagan Love Song
  26. Beautiful Ohio
  27. Downhill Drag
  28. Avalon
  29. Sunrise Serenade
  30. San Antonio Rose
  31. Set a Spell
  32. Mister Misery

Disc 4

  1. Get Up and Go
  2. South
  3. Alabama Jubilee
  4. Corinne, Corinna
  5. Indiana
  6. Red Wing
  7. Frankie and Johnnie
  8. A Gay Ranchero
  9. Ballin' the Jack
  10. Honeysuckle Rose
  11. Darktown Strutters Ball
  12. The Old Spinning Wheel
  13. Silver Bell
  14. Under the Double Eagle
  15. The Birth of the Blues
  16. Have You Ever Been Lonely
  17. Caravan
  18. Old Man River
  19. Mister Sandman
  20. New Spanish Two Step
  21. Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White
  22. Dance with Me Henry
  23. Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup
  24. Tweedle Dee
  25. Hey Mr Guitar
  26. Unchained Melody
  27. Blues in the Night
  28. Somebody Stole My Gal
  29. Shine on Harvest Moon
  30. Intermezzo
  31. Tenderly

Disc 5

  1. Minute Waltz
  2. Minuet
  3. Schön Rosmarien
  4. Tip Toe Through the Tulips
  5. Arkansas Traveler
  6. Little Rock Getaway
  7. Ochi Chornya
  8. Londonderry Air
  9. La Golondrina
  10. Black Mountain Rag
  11. Cecilia
  12. Poor People of Paris
  13. Honey
  14. The Lady Loves Me
  15. Memphis Blues
  16. Oh by Jingo
  17. Hello Ma Baby
  18. Indian Love Call
  19. Alice Blue Gown
  20. Third Man Theme
  21. Blue Gypsy
  22. St. Louis Blues
  23. Dance of the Golden Rod
  24. Gavotte in D
  25. Malaguena
  26. Glow Worm
  27. In the Mood
  28. Heartaches
  29. Swedish Rhapsody
  30. Waltz in A Flat
  31. Adelita
  32. Petite Waltz
  33. Liza

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Chet Atkins   Primary Artist,Bass,Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Jethro Burns   Mandolin,Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Hank Snow   Guitar
Anita Kerr   Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Grady Martin   Guitar
Anita Carter   Bass,Bass Guitar
Rosalie Allen   Vocals
Harold Bradley   Rhythm Guitar
Ray Edenton   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
Buddy Harman   Drums
Homer Haynes   Guitar,Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Millie Kirkham   Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Phil Kraus   Drums
Ernest Ernie Newton   Bass
Ernie Newton   Bass,Bass Guitar
D.F. Potter   Fiddle
Brock Speer   Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Jerry Byrd   Bass,Guitar,Steel Guitar
Farris Coursey   Drums
Marvin Hughes   Organ,Piano,Celeste
Dale Potter   Fiddle
Fran Carroll   Bass
Jack Shook   Guitar,Vocals
Helen Carter   Vocals
James Atkin   Guitar
Danny Dill   Vocals
Bud Isaacs   Steel Guitar
Louis Innis   Guitar,Harmonica,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals
Chernet   Guitar
Joe Bussard   Help
Johnny Degeorge   Drums
Elbert R. "Dutch" McMillan   Clarinet
Harold Siegel   Bass,Bass Guitar
Randy Lanham   Guitar
Malcolm Gold   Organ,Piano
Joe Biviano   Accordion
Sister Billie Rose Atkins   Vocals
George Warren Barnes   Guitar
M. Patrick Hughes   Organ,Piano
Charles Hurta   Fiddle
Red Kirk   Vocals
Jimmy Atkins & His Pinetoppers   Guitar
Aaron Kerr   Organ
Beasley Singers   Vocals
Donna Colleen   Vocals
Austin Footrell   Vocals,Choir, Chorus
"Papa" John Gordie   Piano,Celeste
Angus P Klein   Accordion
Buck Lambert   Fiddle
"Holly" Swanson   Bass,Bass Guitar
D Potter   Fiddle
Charles Hurta   Fiddle
Kerr   Organ
Bob L. Moore   Bass Guitar
C R Grean   Bass Guitar
Midred Kirkham   Vocals
D Dill   Vocals
M Gold   Organ
H Ray Bradley   Guitar
'Sister' Billie Rose Atkins   Vocals
Beasley Singers   Vocals
'Red' Kirk   Vocals
Colleen And Donna Wilson (The Beaver Valley Sweethearts)   Vocals
Johnnie deGeorge   Drums
F Carroll   Bass Guitar
Joe Biviano   Accordion
M Hughes   Organ
R Lanham   Guitar
Ernest Newton   Bass Guitar
James Atkins   Guitar

Technical Credits

Chet Atkins   Duet
Hank Snow   Duet
Drew Kent   Sleeve Notes
Donna Colleen   Duet

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