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Chet Atkins Music – Neck and Neck

Chet Atkins’ music was inspired by Chet’s admiration for Merle Travis’ guitar playing. Travis created complex musical patterns with the thumb of a banjo and the tip of his index finger. Not believing that audible music could be achieved with his thumb and forefinger, Chet also played with his middle finger. Chet’s career as a guitarist began in 1942 and was never completely overshadowed by his phenomenal success as a record producer.

Neck And Neck is a 1990 album that featured Chet and Mark Knopfler, a guitarist who often cited Chet Atkins as one of his main influences. The album also featured Floyd Cramer, a Nashville pianist with a distinctive style and a long and distinguished recording career.

The songs on the album are:

“Poor Boy Blues” (Paul Kennerley)

“Sweet Dreams” (Don Gibson)

“There’ll Be Some Changes Made” (Billy Higgins, Benton Overstreet with additional lyrics by Margaret Archer, Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler)

“Just Once” (Gibson)

“So Soft, Goodbye” (Randy Goodrum)

“Yakety Axe” (Boots Randolph, James Rich, lyrics by Merle Travis)

“Tears” (Stephane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt)

“Tahitian Skies” (Ray Flacke)

“Meet You in My Dream” (Isham Jones, Gus Kahn)

“Next Time I’m in Town” (Mark Knopfler)

Mark Knopfler became known as a guitar virtuoso with the band Dire Straits and for his scores for many films. As a fingerstyle guitarist, this album gave him a chance to play some street cred with one of the originators of electric fingerstyle guitars.

Neck And Neck is an album for guitarists who love to listen to guitar music. It’s not flashy, but a showcase of the musicianship of Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler and the guitar music they love. Although Chet Atkins made his name as a record producer for many Nashville artists, he’s clearly not a natural singer, but Knopfler gives his gravelly vocals the benefit of the doubt on Neck And Neck.

Neck And Neck is the record that probably introduced Mark Knopfler fans to Chet Atkins and vice versa. The selection of material is top-notch: Chet Atkins’ old favorite “Yakety Ax” by Merle Travis, the lyrical “Tears” by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, and a Mark Knopfler original, “The Next Time I’m In” City. Patsy Cline made famous by “Sweet Dreams” and the classic tune “I’ll See You In My Dreams” make Neck And Neck an album for true music lovers.

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