Such talent, such waste
The credit list reads like a guitar player's Who's Who Steve Lukather, Earl Klugh, Larry Carlton, Mark Knopfler, George Benson. Add bassist David Hungate and drummer Jeff Porcaro of Toto fame, and Boots Randolph on sax, and you have the ingredients for an exceptional album.
The talent assembled becomes even more likely to produce something worthy when Chet Atkins is the man around whom all of these stars are gathered to play. Atkins was already one of the world's great guitar players when many of the guests artists were born.
And yet ... and yet Hungate, who also serves as producer here, manages to come up with the biggest waste of talent since "We Are the World."
Rather than letting Atkins trade solo riffs with artists like Knopfler and Klugh, Hungate overlays most of the tracks with strings and synthesizers, nearly drowning out the guitar.
Fortunately, there are points at which the talent simply overcomes Hungate's destructive touch. On "Cosmic Square Dance," Atkins and Knopfler play an intricately woven melody with a beautiful harmony. Knopfler's uniquely twangy sound contrasts nicely with Atkins authoritative playing.
Randolph is also impressive on "Boot and the Stone," as is Carlton on "Quiet Lips." Still, the album as a whole suffers immensely from Hungate's heavy hand.
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