Monday, December 7, 2009

CD Odyssey Disc 64: Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins

Here's my first appearance of Mark Knopfler - an artist who wears many different genres well. This time, it is his country side, on a collaboration album with C&W star Chet Atkins.

Disc 64 is...Neck and Neck

Artist: Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins

Year of Release: 1990

How I Came To Know It: I know Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, but I'm also a fan of his solo work. This album is an early example of that work, although I bought it comparatively late. I took a rider on Chet Atkins, because I trust Mark Knopfler's stuff to be good.

How It Stacks Up: I have seven Dire Straits albums, and eight Mark Knopfler albums, of which two are collaborations. Of the two collaborations, I prefer the other one, but this one has its moments.

Rating: 2 stars with a Thumbs Up.

When I was a kid, my Mom had this greatest hits album by Chet Atkins called "Chet Atkins Picks His Best". My brother and I thought it hilarious to refer to this album as "Chet Atkins Picks His Nose", in fact I think my brother went one step further and had Mr. Atkins picking his bum.

This used to infuriate my Mom, who thought quite highly of Chet, a top notch guitar player in his day. The angrier she got, the funnier we thought Chet's inappropriate picking was.

Well, many years have passed, and I've grown up a lot. Well, not really - I still think that was pretty funny.

As for Mark Knopfler, he is my #1 guitar hero (with apologies to Buck Dharma and Jimi Hendrix). Knopfler can play any style and master it. This album has he and fellow maestro Atkins playing country, a little blues and that groovy Hawaian sounding guitar. They handle each amazingly.

That said while the playing is stellar, the songs themselves are just OK. Also, there are plenty of moments of total self-indulgence including an "impromptu" guitar-off between the two on "There'll Be Some Changes Made".

I like this album because it is clear the admiration Knopfler holds for Atkins (and it shows one of the influences that makes Knopfler such a versatile player). For just sitting and listening to, it isn't terribly exciting.

So, unless you are a Mark Knopfler completionist like me, I'd say skip this one. You might also pick it if you are a Chet Atkins fan, if you aren't already picking something else. Tee hee hee.

Best tracks: The Next Time I'm In Town

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