Unsung guitar pioneer
S. Buckley | U.K | 11/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally a compilation CD recognizing the talents of Nashville based session guitarist Grady Martin (alongside double bassist Bob Moore and drummer Buddy Harman - aka, the Nashville 'A' team). Grady Martin (alongside the Nashville 'A' team) was the guitarist responsible for the raw + influential sounds on 90% of the Johnny Burnette rock and roll trio material - NOT Paul Burlison, who falsely claimed to be the featured guitarist on the classic July '56 Nashville sessions - sessions which produced brilliant rockabilly tracks such as 'the train kept a rollin' 'Rock Therapy' 'Please Don't Leave Me' and 'Drinkin' Wine Spodee-o-dee'. This is important to note due to the fact that these seminal recordings by Johnny Burnette were responsible for influencing a whole legion of guitarists who went on to change modern music as we know it - Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Albert Lee, George Harrison, Ritchie Blackmore.......need I continue?
Any doubters of this fact, should check out this CD - particularly on the tracks by Don Woody ('bird dog' - which starts exactly like Burnette's 'your baby blue eyes')) and Grady's own version of 'when my dreamboat comes home'; they are identical to the Burnette Nashville July '56 material. Thankfully, just to drive this point home, the Burnette rock and roll trio's versions of 'The train kept a rollin' and 'Rockabilly Boogie' are included on the CD to compare against stylistically identical tracks by a whole host of lesser known rockabilly artists. Interestingly, 2 Buddy Holly tracks are included; 'Rock around with Ollie Vee' 'Modern Don Juan'. 'Ollie Vee' featuring Grady makes a good comparison to the more well known version featuring the guitar work of Sonny Curtis.
Whereas fellow Nashville guitarist Hank Garland perhaps had a better command of harmony and be-bop Jazz, Grady showed his true colours with sheer drive and momentum - he completely understood what was needed in a rock tune and delivered every time.
My only criticisms of this CD are hardly worth mentioning - it includes a rather annoying track featuring a saxophone with a positively comic vibrato - Dottie Dillard's 'fool such as I' - though once the sax stops, it's ok. With a title like 'roughneck blues' this album could have included a few more gritty hard edged tracks - featuring examples of Grady really stretching out, but then again it is dated between '49 and '56 and therefore covers the whole 'pre rock' period well. Shame Johnny Burnette's 'Lonesome Train (on a lonesome track)' wasn't included tho.......
32 tracks in all - Johnny Horton, Brenda Lee, Don Woody, Johnny Burnette, Wayne Walker, Buddy Holly, Burl Ives, Johnny Carroll......you can't go wrong."
The link between country and rock
B. P. Price | Portland, OR USA | 05/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a fun album of great country and rockabilly tunes. Grady Martin is of course the legendary and often uncredited sideman whose work as part of the Owen Bradley's A-team made him one of the top guitarists of the era.
While not as slick as the Chet Atkins, Grady Martin's work clearly illuminates the intersection of Western Swing, Honky Tonk Country and Rockabilly that was brewing in the early to mid-1950s. While many draw a direct line from the Blues to Rock, a more accurate map passes through these other areas of popular rural music in the southern and western United States. Jeff Beck may owe a greater debt to Bob Wills and Johnny Horton than most people think.
Throughout the disc, Martin shines with his raw, aggressive attack and biting tone. Pioneering use of slapback echo, distortion and string bending are here too, but what ties all these pieces together is Martin's terrific sense of composition. Every guitar part is just right for what the song and the vocalist needs - it is no wonder that Owen Bradley depended upon Martin to make hit records day after day."