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The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World

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Album Review

At 73, with hundreds of albums and countless sessions to his credit, Chet Atkins still had another great recording in him — this splendid duo session with the young Australian guitarist/composer Tommy Emmanuel. Here, Atkins leaves all of the smooth jazz experiments from the previous decade and a half behind him, choosing superior material for their acoustic guitars, with the rhythm section laying down swinging country-pie tracks underneath. Emmanuel's fingerpicking style isn't quite as tied to the rhythm as Atkins'; it's a little sharper in attack, fleeter in technique and a bit flashier in temperament, yet remarkably well-matched to that of the east Tennessee master, almost an alter ego. Indeed Atkins' tune "Tip Toe Through the Bluegrass" plays the two styles off each other quite revealingly. Emmanuel turns out to be a top-notch tunesmith in his own right, too. His "Dixie McGuire," a disarmingly affectionate mid-tempo tune that won't let you go, inspires a performance that is one of the high points of Atkins' Columbia period — or for that matter, equal to anything from his long RCA period, too, in sheer emotional effect. The title track, which Atkins adapted from a lyric that dealt with bass players (as opposed to fingerpickers), finds the two reciting and singing a mock-horror flick tale — and "Ode to Mel Bay" good-naturedly mocks beginning string players everywhere. As a tribute to the visitor from Down Under, there is also a slyly countrified "Waltzing Matilda." This would be Atkins' last album of new material released during the 20th century — leaving it, glory be, on a very high note. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Customer Reviews

My Wake-up Album

This is one of my favorite "guitar" albums of all time. The two vocal songs, "The Day the Fingerpickers Took Over the World" and "Ode to Mel Bay" are hysterically funny. When I first learned to play guitar I used my fingers and I've taken lessons with a lot of Mel Bay books. My favorite instrumental is Julian Lennon's "Saltwater." Chet and Tommy took an already beautiful song and made it heartbreakingly gorgeous! This is the album I wake up to almost every morning.


This album is a guitar lovers dream. (c.g.p. club) Tommy Emmanuel is the greatest guitarist i have ever heard. And of course we all know about Chet Atkins. Together that make the greatest guitar duo ever. And this album is a true classic.

A lot of guitar and a lot of fun!

Despite their long relationship, it was hard to envision how well Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel could blend. This album is a memorable collaboration. The uniformly upbeat music will lift your spirits, keep your toe tapping and make you wish they could have done more work together.


Born: June 20, 1924 in Luttrell, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Without Chet Atkins, country music may never have crossed over into the pop charts in the '50s and '60s. Although he recorded hundreds of solo records, Atkins' largest influence came as a session musician and a record producer. During the '50s and '60s, he helped create the Nashville sound, a style of country music that owed nearly as much to pop as it did to honky tonks. And as a guitarist, he was without parallel. Atkins' style grew out of his admiration for Merle Travis, expanding Travis' signature...
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