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Blues Masters: Guitar Shorty

Guitar Shorty

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Album Review

The Best of Guitar Shorty collects key tracks from the Texas guitarist's JSP album, My Way or the Highway (1991), his three albums for Black Top Records, Topsy Turvy (1993), Get Wise to Yourself (1995), and Roll Over, Baby (1998), and his single album from Evidence Records, I Go Wild!, which came out in 2001. In spite of all these different sources, the sequence here feels cut from the same bolt of cloth, thanks in no small part to Shorty's flashy, angular guitar playing, which is a constant on all of these tracks. Known for his dazzling stage show, which is highlighted by all manner of leaps, somersaults, and other assorted guitar-playing gymnastics, Guitar Shorty on disc is a poor substitute, but he still generates tremendous energy on cuts like "Go Wild!," which cycles off from the standard "Gloria" chord pattern; the stomping, buzz-saw pop of "Maybe She'll Miss Me"; and the slow-burning, Jimi Hendrix-like take on "Hey Joe," which ends the set. Rumor has it that Hendrix picked up much of his stage show and perhaps his arrangement of "Hey Joe" in particular from seeing Guitar Shorty playing live — at least that's how Shorty tells it. He doesn't have the explosive, futuristic vision of Hendrix, but then Hendrix didn't do back flips while playing leads on-stage, either. Or maybe he did. Nobody remembers. Suffice it to say that Guitar Shorty is a guitar player's guitar player, and this collection makes for a nice introduction to his studio style.

Biography

Born: 08 September 1939 in Belhaven, NC

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

When he's not turning somersaults, doing backward flips, and standing on his head — all while playing, of course — Guitar Shorty is prone to cutting loose with savagely slashing licks on his instrument. Live, he's simply amazing — and after some lean years, his latter-day albums for...
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