Chet Atkins and Les Paul: Chester And Lester (RCA)

WELL NOW, this isn’t exactly the kind of record that you hear every day of the week.

Just imagine these two gentlemanly, polite, good old boys sitting out on the front porch. The heat of the day is just mellowing down to the cool of the evening, and they’ve taken their axes out and are getting down to some relaxed cracker-barrel picking.

It may not make you want to jump up and beat your feet, but it’s a pleasant enough kind of thing to hear drifting across the still, heavy air.

This is all well and good, except the gentlemanly middle-aged good old boys are two of the great historical figures of guitar playing. Indeed so great that guitars made to their specifications and then commercially manufactured became two of the most popular in the world.

They’re not sitting in the front porch either. They’re actually in Nashville’s most sophisticated recording studio, and every note, fluff, joke, comment, cough and good-natured verbal exchange is being preserved with a production of crystalline clarity.

The approach is as laid back as you can get without nodding off.

I suppose the record is a slice of history but, like I said, it’s not a record you hear every day of the week or, I’m afraid, really want to.

© Mick FarrenNew Musical Express, 5 February 1977

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