Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant – Stratosphere Boogie

I am new to country music – as a kid I didn’t care for the corniness or the fact that the people who played and listened to this style despised me for my looks and wanted to kick my ass. Hopefully, we’ve all out-grown that now and I have come to appreciate some of the stellar musicians in the field, despite its continued corniness, lyrically. 

Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant are a duo of pedal-steel & 6-string guitarists who created a mix of country swing, jazz, and bluegrass and blew minds with their unbelievable speed. As session musicians as well as artists in their own rights, they recorded literally thousands of tunes (the liner notes claim 6000 for Speedy!) and continue to influences players to this day.

This record will show you why! Literally mind-boggling speed & dexterity are shown on both instruments, while maintaining taste, style and class. I was totally unfamiliar with this mix of country, swing and jazz, so this duo comes as a revelation to me. Whether playing one of their many originals – most of which they would work out during their recording sessions – or traditional bluegrass (“Arkansas Traveler”, “Old Joe Clark”) or C&W numbers, they would imbue every tune with their own personalities. Every tune here rocks and swings and jumps and bops along with strong melodies always in the forefront.

The liner notes tell their story and makes me want to discover more from these two! Absolutely a great find and an instrumental record that has such strong songs that you forget that no one is singing! If you want your music neat and tidy in a safe little box, this is not for you. But for those who appreciate originality and style and fantastic playing, pick it up!