String Dustin' (vinyl EP)
Review by Gary Hill
Chet Atkins is a legend within and without country music. In 1952 he put together the Country All-Stars and recorded this set of instrumentals (one song has vocals). The music here is all intriguing. While it's billed as country, and there is country at the core of a lot of it, it really transcends that label, wandering into jazz and more. This is quite an intriguing set of music. This new edition is a 10-inch record on orange vinyl. It's also all class.
It's pop and jazz with covers from Irving Berlin to Benny Goodman, and it was no doubt because of this that RCA did little to promote the album on its release, which has therefore resulted in its rarity. No one will be surprised by Chet's ability to play in this swinging jazz style, but fans of the cornball duo Homer & Jethro might find it harder to comprehend. Interviewed in later life, Chet himself was critical of his own playing, but he sounds pretty good to me. I can't honestly sit here and say that I'm a big fan of the album and it won't get much in the way of repeat plays, but you can only admire the intricate musicianship on offer. The more broadminded amongst you and, no doubt, musicians, will find lots to enjoy here.
Laid back and almost like front-porch picking if the house was the Prague Opera House, the playing is delicate, crisp and at times inspiring. If this ten-track reissue is your bag, Bear Family brought out a CD in the early '90s with additional tracks, appropriately called 'Jazz From The Hills'. EMMA & THE RAGMEN Headin' Out Country / Mr. Jones / I'm Ready Rampage RR-19-20 The back catalogue of Rampage Records includes releases by Mons Wheeler and Keith Turner plus an album by Emma & The Ragmen back in 2017. This new release features two originals and a cover and all three tracks are hard-hitting numbers. The top side is a growling rocker with great stinging guitar, excellent vocals from Emma and a catchy chorus. 'Mr Jones' is a meaty instrumental with strong guitar and drums.
The storming cover of Fats' I'm Ready' has the addition of a sax, presumably Kenny Tomlinson, but the basic packaging has no session details. The vocals are solid and with two hot sax and guitar solos it's another winner. This is a cracking single that is easy to recommend.
5th October 2019 Jane Grandle 0 Comments Bear Family Records, Chet Atkins, Country All-Stars, Homer & Jethro, Homer Haynes, Jerry Byrd, Jethro Burns
From the moment the first number kicks in, Chet Atkins’ involvement is immediately obvious. But as Marie progresses it is plain to see that String Dustin’ is going to be a team effort.
The Country All-Stars were something of a super-group before super-groups. Chet Atkins, Homer Haynes, Jethro Burns, Charles Grean, Jerry Byrd, Dale Potter and Ernie Newton are names which will no doubt be familiar to many. Chet Atkins and Homer & Jethro are both big names as artists in the country world, while Byrd, Potter, Newton and others can be heard on hundreds of recordings made in the era.
This album could easily be dismissed as a novelty: merely a bunch of well known Nashville names put together to sell a record. But it is much more than that. Every artist brings something unique and wonderful. The contribution from all is required here to make the album what it is. A fine collection of instrumental renditions of some well known and some original songs, played by a team of brilliant musicians.
Although Country in flavour, it is also a firm contemporary of the warmest jazz of the era, even veering slightly towards rockabilly and rock and roll in places. The skill and versatility of the musicians are incredibly impressive, yet it all sounds so effortless.
Originally released on RCA Victor in 1953, there were only 8 tracks. Following the previous re-issue of these songs as part of a more extensive CD release consisting of 21 tracks, this limited edition vinyl includes two bonus songs, which feel like a perfect match to the original selection.