From the Vault...


Chet Atkins
"The RCA Years"

© RCA Records

Year of Release: 1992

track listing
Disc One:
  • Avalon
  • A Taste Of Honey
  • Snowbird
  • El Condor Pasa
  • Main Street Breakdown
  • Yakety Axe
  • Slinkey
  • Windy And Warm
  • Chinatown My Chinatown
  • Country Gentleman
  • Blue Angel
  • Black Mountain Rag
  • Good Stuff
  • Cascade
  • Jerry's Breakdown
  • Vincent
    Disc Two:
  • Sweet Georgia Brown
  • Terry On The Turnpike
  • Do I Ever
    Cross Your Mind
  • Boo Boo Stick Beat
  • Floatin' Down To
    Cotton Town
  • Swedish Rhapsody
  • Little Music Box/Lagrima
  • Junk
  • The Boxer
  • Wimoweh
  • Nine Pound Hammer
  • Jitterbug Waltz
  • Take Five
  • Don't Monkey
    'Round My Widder

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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    Chet Atkins
    "The RCA Years"

    Chet Atkins makes his debut this week, as he was one of the greatest guitarist in modern music. He started before Rock n Roll; (so did Les Paul, as he, and Chet recorded together.) Chet Atkins' The RCA Years (a 2-disc set) takes a look at his recordings for RCA Records, from 1947 to 1981. And like Les Paul, Atkins was an instrumentalist, and a great one, he was. My only complaint: The songs were not in chronological order. This doesn't make it a bad album, obviously, yet it looks at an astonishing and great career of a guitar legend. To classify his music, it would be more in the Country category, for most songs.

    Disc one start with guitar duet with Les Paul, and it's interesting that Les says, "You see that red light on? That means we're on the air." In fact, they stop halfway through the song, for a brief chat, then continue playing. They even chat over the music, in parts. They break out in laughter at the end, and it seems that these "dirty old men" (as it was shouted out), are just having a gret time. A great start, for this compilation.

    One of my favorite instrumentals by Chet, is his version of "A Taste Of Honey." It's smooth, it's clean, it's Chet, a great guitarist. Another great and impressive cover tune, is "Snowbird," made famous (vocally) by Anne Murray. Again, the guitar pickin' is just awesome. Then there's the spanish-influenced "El Condor Pasa." Spanish guitar, at its finest. "Main Street Breakdown" is yet another, great guitar pickin' tune. "Yakety Axe" is Chet's version of the Benny Hill Theme Song! Boots Randolph co-wrote and recorded this song originially, as "Yakety Sax," being a saxophone player. "Axe" is known as another word for the guitar. "Slinkey" is one of those SMOOOTH Rock tune instrumentals. Just smooth.

    Good guitar pickin' gets the next track, "Windy And Warm." More of the (fast) guitar pickin' -- "Chinatown, My Chinatown" A full orchestra joins Chet on "Country Gentleman" And that orchestra was conducted by the famous Arthur Fiedler, and the Boston Pops. More great guitar pickin' on "Blue Angel," and if you can pick at the guitar as Chet did, you would just be another great guitarist. "Black Mountain Rag" is another good Country pickin' tune. "Good Stuff" is just what it's title says. Another reason, is Jerry Reed helps out. It's a "Swamp Country" sounding tune. Jerry, of course, was famous in the Burt Reynolds movies, such as "Smokey And The Bandit," "W.W. & The Dixie Dancekings," and the Cannonball Run movies. He also had a successful career as a singer and songwriter. His country hits were "When You're Hot You're Hot," "She Got The Goldmine, I Got The Shaft," "Amos Moses," "East Bound And Down."

    Can we ever get enough of Chet's great pickin'? Obviously, NOT! "Cascade" is another one. And add another one, to "Jerry's Breakdown," as Jerry Reed helps out again. "Vincent" is the Don McLean remake, and it is just plain beautiful, ending Disc 1.

    "Sweet Georgia Brown" starts off the second disc, as I remember this tune being the Harlem Globetrotters Theme. Chet puts his own style to this one, making it his own. "Turn On The Turnpike" (with Boots Randolph) is a Country picker, as it could be a theme song for a TV show. Country has "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind." It has to be Country, as Dolly Parton takes the lead vocal. "Boo Boo Stick Beat" has a more Rock feel, maybe even Jazz. And the drumming of the bongos on this tune is also a standout. "Floatin' Down To Cotton Town" is another great Country picker.

    "Swedish Rhapsody" is one of those tunes, that when you hear it, "Oh yeah, this one I remember, but don't remember who it's by, originally." Another great pickin' tune, by the great Chet Atkins. "Little Music Box/Lagrima" is more laid back, and it does sound like a song you would hear, from a music box. Beautiful... "Junk" is another nice and easy sounding tune. And when I saw the title of this song, I asked, "Is this the Paul McCartney song?" The answer, "Yes." Another beautiful instrumental. ("Junk" originally appeared on Paul's first solo album, McCartney, 1970.) And another familiar songtitle, "The Boxer" -- Simon & Garfunkel. Once again, Mr. Atkins puts his own touch on the S&G classic. "Wimoweh" is another title of another classic oldie, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," originally by The Tokens. Good ol' pickin again, at its finest.

    Merle Travis was one of the early Country singers, and, like Chet Atkins, he was a fellow guitar player, similar to the pickin' style. He had 2 number one songs on the Country chart, in 1946: "Divorce Me C.O.D." and "So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed". He helps out with Chet, on "Nine Pound Hammer." A true, early Country-sounding, with a honky-tonk guitar backdrop. It's cool, as Merle talks his way throughout the song. Chet and Merle recorded together, in 1974, as Merle's success was decades earlier. Chet gets the orchestra treatment on "Jitterbug Waltz," conducted by Dennis Farnon. "Take Five" is the classic Dave Brubeck song, where instead of the horns, it's the guitar. Chet Atkins' guitar. Ending this compilation is "Don't Monkey 'Round My Widder, with Doc Watson. What's a wiider, you ask? A widow. "Don't monkey 'round my widder, WHEN I'M GONE." Doc's vocalizing resembles Willie Nelson. Yes, it's a true Country tune...

    Below is the "Chronological Listing" of the tracks (by Date) from Chet Atkins' The RCA Years, 1947-1981:

    DateSong TitleSource, Year of ReleaseDisc 1 or 2
    10/13/49Main Street BreakdownNow And Then
    Compilation, 1972
    1, Track 5
    07/30/52Chinatown, My ChinatownNow And Then
    Compilation, 1972
    1, Track 9
    05/03/58SlinkeyNow And Then
    Compilation, 1972
    1, Track 7
    overdubbed c. 1959
    Jitterbug WaltzChet Atkins In Hollywood
    2, Track 12
    07/25/59Boo Boo Stick BeatNow And Then
    Compilation, 1972
    2, Track 4
    10/22/56Swedish RhapsodyThe Best Of Chet Atkins
    Compilation, 1964
    2, Track 6
    10/05/61Windy And WarmDown Home, 19621, Track 8
    06/01/64WimowehMy Favorite Guitars, 19642, Track 10
    04/23/65Yakety AxeMore Of That Guitar Country, 19651, Track 6
    06/10/65Country Gentleman
    w/Arthur Fiedler &
    The Boston Pops Orchestra
    The "Pops" Goes Country, 19661, Track 10
    03/23/66A Taste Of HoneyIt's A Guitar World, 19671, Track 2
    Little Music Box/LagrimaClass Guitar, 19672, Track 7
    05/24/68Blue AngelHometown Guitar, 19681, Track 11
    11/23/70El Condor PasaFor The Good Times And Other Country Moods, 19711, Track 4
    12/11/70SnowbirdFor The Good Times And Other Country Moods, 19711, Track 3
    06/01/71Floatin' Down To Cotton TownPickin' My Way, 19702, Track 5
    07/14/71Black Mountain RagPickin' My Way, 19701, Track 12
    07/15/71JunkPickin' My Way, 19702, Track 8
    07/15/71The BoxerPickin' My Way, 19702, Track 9
    11/05/71Jerry's Breakdown
    w/Jerry Reed
    Me And Chet
    Collaboration w/Jerry Reed, 1971
    1, Track 15
    02/28/72Good Stuff
    w/Jerry Reed
    Me And Chet
    Collaboration w/Jerry Reed, 1971
    1, Track 13
    02/27/73Take FiveAlone,19732, Track 13
    01/23/74Nine Pound Hammer
    w/Merle Travis
    The Atkins Travis Traveling Show
    Collaboration, 1974
    2, Track 11
    w/Les Paul
    The Best Of Chet Atkins And Friends
    Compilation, 1976
    1, Track 1
    07/23/76CascadeMe And My Guitar, 19771, Track 14
    07/23/76Terry On The Turnpike
    w/Boots Randolph
    The Best Of Chet Atkins And Friends
    Compilation, 1976
    2, Track 2
    09/03/76Sweet Georgia Brown
    w/Lenny Breau
    The Best Of Chet Atkins And Friends
    Compilation, 1976
    2, Track 1
    09/03/76Do I Ever Cross Your Mind
    w/Dolly Parton
    The Best Of Chet Atkins And Friends
    Compilation, 1976
    2, Track 3
    05/24/77VincentMe And My Guitar, 19771, Track 16
    09/26/79Don't Monkey 'Round My Widder
    w/Doc Watson
    Collaboration w/Doc Watson, 1980
    2, Track 14

    A great collection, of one of the finest and greatest early guitar players. His picking style was his trademark. He has been influenced by many. A great guitarist, and he was also a record producer. He won Grammys, and other awards, mostly in the Country genre. The RCA Years (1947-1981) is a great compilation of Atkins' guitar works, and collaborations with other artists. He would become known as "Mister Guitar." And that name definitely fitted him, being an excellent (pickin') guitar player. His main website is that name - He continued performing in the 1990s, until 1996, when he was diagnosed (again) with colon cancer. Chet Atkins passed away in 2001, at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 77.

    Hear how he would become "Mister Guitar," from The RCA Years. Whether you are a guitar player, or just want to be one, Chet Atkins would be a great influence. A truly remarkable and gifted musician. Chet Atkins was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, as he should. His legacy will inspire many future guitar players to come.

    © All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA Records and is used for reference purposes only.

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