Thursday, May 30, 2013

Speedy West - Guitar Spectacular

I came across Speedy West due to his recordings with Jimmy Bryant and was amazed at his tremendous skill on the pedal steel guitar - making it sound unlike any other steel guitar ever heard! This album was recorded a decade or so later, after splitting with Bryant and with a career that had been declining due to the emergence of r'n'r His playing and producing Loretta Lynn's first album (and her hit "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl") re-sparked interest and he recorded this "come back" album. This is proof that his playing certainly never eroded and, maybe because Bryant was no longer there to steal some of the spotlight, sounded better than ever!

The opener, "Space Man in Orbit" is a monster - a ravin', wild, exploration of the instrument, with sounds emerging that you would never imagine! A lot of the rest of the numbers are a bit tamer, in a more melodic, almost easy-listening mode, but still with excellent guitar lines that would be surprising coming from any guitarist, much less a steel player!

Some numbers are a bit more upbeat, such as "Speedy's Special" and "Double or Nothing", bringing more of his jazz/country excitement to the forefront. "Tulsa Twist" comes as close to reconciling with r'n'r as Speedy would get, with nods to the American Bandstand theme and the closer, "Wild and Wolly West" is reminiscent of his best work with Bryant.

Speedy's music is a hybrid of many styles, so don't come in expecting any one certain thing, but if you have an open mind and are interested in hearing just what can be done with a pedal steel guitar in the hands of a master, this is for you!