[33] Chet Atkins and Les Paul – Chester and Lester

22 Nov

When you imagine two guitar legends jamming, the sound you hear in your head is of rock and roll pyrotechnics, of power and showmanship. But when Les Paul and Chet Atkins got together, their collaboration resulted in Easy Listening perfection.

Chester and Lester

Chester and Lester











That’s not to say that their mastery of the guitar is not evident from almost the first note – it is – but the vibe and the mood they are shooting for is one of two old friends with nothing to prove, just hanging out and doodling with fingers and strings.

They nail it.

Not so surprising of two men so intricately linked to the instrument they play – one was known as “Mister Guitar”, the other all but invented the electric guitar as we know it today – after decades perfecting their art at the time of their collaboration here in 1977.

This is not so much “dueling banjos” as it is two old masters creating a space for each other to be heard, to explore, to entertain. And at the end of the day (which is the best time to listen to Chester and Lester) isn’t that why we’re listening to music in the first place?

The chatting between (and at times during) the songs is endearing, adding to the mood, and when they casually discuss how to start the next song in a sort of guitar shorthand – “You play something like this . . . then I’ll come in like this . . .” – my mind is blown.

I am thinking of starting a new collection – not a shock, I am sure, to anyone who knows me or my family at all.

I want to collect as many versions as possible of one of my favorite songs, featured here, “It Had To Be You.” Each time I hear the song anew I am struck by the different ways it can be colored – Frank Sinatra’s quiet certainty, Harry Connick Jr.’s frantic need, and now the lazy introspection of Chet and Les.

It is a highlight of the album, but also of my entire 1,000 Recordings experience to date.

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 33. 6%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 33. 12%)
Recommend? Yes. (27 of 33. 82%)

Next Week: Albert Ayler – Spiritual Unity

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