In the wake of Beck, even old-schoolers like Leo Kottke are getting hip-hop hip. On Standing in My Shoes, he teams with producer and former Prince cohort David Z for an intriguing, occasionally convincing synthesis of the ... more »guitarist's left-field visions and drum loops that suggest exposure to Mellow Gold and Odelay. Some of this music, especially instrumentals like "Realm" and the snoozily "atmospheric" "Across the Street," is barely a step up from tasteful background sound. Other cuts, though, such as a beat-smart rerecording of "Vaseline Machine Gun"--from his legendary first album, 6- and 12-String Guitar--and the Delta-flamenco fusion of "Dead End," demonstrate the wisdom of the Kottke-Z pairing. The title track, another revival of an early Kottke track, also effectively mates groove and stoic soulfulness. His collaboration with Z doesn't mark a great leap forward, but Standing is a modestly brave move. --Rickey Wright« less
In the wake of Beck, even old-schoolers like Leo Kottke are getting hip-hop hip. On Standing in My Shoes, he teams with producer and former Prince cohort David Z for an intriguing, occasionally convincing synthesis of the guitarist's left-field visions and drum loops that suggest exposure to Mellow Gold and Odelay. Some of this music, especially instrumentals like "Realm" and the snoozily "atmospheric" "Across the Street," is barely a step up from tasteful background sound. Other cuts, though, such as a beat-smart rerecording of "Vaseline Machine Gun"--from his legendary first album, 6- and 12-String Guitar--and the Delta-flamenco fusion of "Dead End," demonstrate the wisdom of the Kottke-Z pairing. The title track, another revival of an early Kottke track, also effectively mates groove and stoic soulfulness. His collaboration with Z doesn't mark a great leap forward, but Standing is a modestly brave move. --Rickey Wright
"Leo Kottke is one of a handful of artists whose albums I will buy as soon as they are released. I don't have to hear it first; I know I will enjoy it. And I thoroughly enjoy this album on many levels. The problem with too many fans of this guitar genius is that they want him to keep redoing "6- and 12-String Guitar" for the rest of his life. Hey, that is an essential album, but let's allow the man to move on. If Kottke did keep mining that same formula I'm certain that the critics who attack his newer work would be criticizing him for lack of originality. It seems to me that too many fans won't be happy no matter what he does.As has been typical of many of Kottke's albums since leaving Capitol Records, he revisits some of his earlier songs and reinvents them. "Standing in My Shoes" first appeared on the live My Feet Are Smiling as a solo guitar/vocal number in 1973. Here Kottke reworks the song adding drum and organ and slowing town the tempo considerably from the original. "Cripple Creek" first showed up on Kottke's 1971 album "Mudlark" with a percussion accompaniment, and again three years latter on the Leo Kottke/Peter Lang/John Fahey collection as a solo guitar piece. On this album Kottke again adds organ. The oldest song from Kottke's oeuvre is "Vaseline Machine Gun" from 6- and 12-String Guitar. The version here is slowed down, adding a funkier beat with percussion added. The final reworking is the inclusion of the lilting "Don't Call Me Ray," which Kottke recorded with Steve Wariner on the latter's 1996 album No More Mr. Nice Guy. In each case, these reinterpretations make for enjoyable listening. Kottke's reworking of the Fleetwood Mac song "World Turning" (which, yes, includes Kottke on sitar) reminds me of when he took the Byrds' classic "Eight Miles High" and put his stamp on that song. It is also one of only two vocals. The other is the lovely "Corrina, Corrina."The remaining instrumental numbers all possess a haunting beauty, especially "Twice," which features Chet Atkins who was well into his seventies when this album was recorded. I've never really noticed an Atkins influence in Kottke's playing, but it was nice to hear these two masters playing together. Overall, this is a very enjoyable album which only improves with repeated listenings. RECOMMENDED"
Contemporary slide-guitar with accompaniment, NOT Hip-Hop.
G. Oke | Detroit Area, MI USA | 12/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although I would not consider this his best (4 stars instead of 5), it is still very good, very dynamic acoustic slide guitar music with accompaniment from both human guests (Atkins) and sometimes a drum machine. The songs are well crafted folky and country tinged with a comtempory pop feel. A few old tracks, such as Vaseline Machine Gun get re-worked here, and although they sound nothing the originals they are quite interesting. This is an excellent mix of Vocal and Instrumental tracks from Kottke. However, if you're looking for just another Kottke guitar album, look elsewhere. This should probably not be your first Leo album, but don't make it your last either. I don't know where people come off calling this album "hip-hop". Yes, there is a drum machine present on some songs, but it is not a hip-hop beat... just bouncy at times.This is not the first time Leo has used accompaniment on an album. Consider his all vocal and fully-band-backed "Great Big Boy" album from 1991. It also is not just a Leo instrumental album. Try "A Shout Towards Noon" from 1986, "Regards from Chuck Pink" from 1988 or "One Guitar, No Vocals" from 1999 if you just want to hear Leo and his guitar. This is also not the last album Leo got experimental on (consider 2002's "Clone").If you are just getting started with Leo, try "My Father's Face" from 1989. That seems to be the album all newcomers buy first. It was my first Leo purchase, and I now have 25 Leo albums. Once you hear this guy play (or see him live) you'll want to dust off that old guitar sitting in your closet again."
Leo branches out
Don Adams | Indianapolis, IN USA | 02/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For an artist primarily known for solo guitar work, Standing In My Shoes represents a departure of sorts. This album features more musical accompaniment than on most of his previous albums, and even a guest appearance by another guitar player (Chet Atkins, playing a simple but beautiful lead on the song "Twice"). For long time fans of Leo, the drum machines and other musical accompaniment may be unwelcome, and the new versions of two all-time Leo favorites (Vaseline Machine Gun and Cripple Creek) may even be disappointing, but this is an album any fan of Leo Kottke or guitar work in general should appreciate. The song "Corrina, Corrina", an unexpectedly sweet love song, features some of the most expressive and playful guitar work of his career. The song "Across the Street", written about a prisoner who watches his daughter play across the street from his cell, has a dark beauty unlike almost any other Kottke song. The album also contains some of Leo's trademark fingerwork, most notably on songs such as "Itchy" and "Dead End", and while these songs include the controversial rythmn sections, they are interesting and challenging to listen to.As a long time fan of Leo, I was caught off guard by the sound and feel of this album, and I don't think it would make a good first album for someone looking to give Leo a try. Nonetheless, I recommend it to anyone already familiar with his work. There are several songs with enduring appeal, including at least one classic piece (Corrina, Corrina), and it will add nicely to any Leo collection."
All kottke albums worth having
Don Adams | 02/11/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I cant say this is on my list of must have Kottke albums but, like all of his albums, theres enough to warrant a purchase. Its just that he's got about 15 other brilliant albums.. this album is a bit overproduced for me.. check out "itchy", the last song on the album. What an amazing track - uplifting and incredibly hooky."
From first to last tune, a magic carpet ride...
firstname.lastname@example.org | Maryland, USA | 07/21/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album was well composed and assembled; a piece of work that really demonstrates this artist's guitar and vocal talents at their best. He recomposes a well-known Fleetwood Mac tune and does it well. And then the song line-up keeps getting better and better! A Kottke winner that will most assuredly have me jumping the next time he's in town."