20 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

To condense Chet Atkins’ career of more than 50 years into 20 songs is a tall order. Few figures in country music did as much in as many disciplines as Atkins, who was both master and innovator in the fields of recording, arranging, and, of course, guitar playing. The Essential Chet Atkins remains the best single-disc survey of Atkins’ immense accomplishments. Without overwhelming listeners, it shows a sense of the range of his taste in source material, as well as the consistency of his approach. Atkins was equally interested in whimsy and sincerity, which is why early recordings like “Mister Sandman,” “Boo Boo Stick Beat," and “Yakety Axe” can sound silly, audacious, and seductive all at once. The '70s found him relaxing acoustically with spiritual brothers like Jerry Reed and Doc Watson. And while his '80s output is unfairly disregarded, he kept making adventurous and unusual work late in life. All in all, what emerges here isn't simply the portrait of a master musician, but a master listener—ever restless, ever in search of new stimulation for two of the keenest ears in the history of American music

EDITORS’ NOTES

To condense Chet Atkins’ career of more than 50 years into 20 songs is a tall order. Few figures in country music did as much in as many disciplines as Atkins, who was both master and innovator in the fields of recording, arranging, and, of course, guitar playing. The Essential Chet Atkins remains the best single-disc survey of Atkins’ immense accomplishments. Without overwhelming listeners, it shows a sense of the range of his taste in source material, as well as the consistency of his approach. Atkins was equally interested in whimsy and sincerity, which is why early recordings like “Mister Sandman,” “Boo Boo Stick Beat," and “Yakety Axe” can sound silly, audacious, and seductive all at once. The '70s found him relaxing acoustically with spiritual brothers like Jerry Reed and Doc Watson. And while his '80s output is unfairly disregarded, he kept making adventurous and unusual work late in life. All in all, what emerges here isn't simply the portrait of a master musician, but a master listener—ever restless, ever in search of new stimulation for two of the keenest ears in the history of American music

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