Ace Records have brought us some fabulous compilations and this is one of the best. In all there are 28 tracks featured and to kick it off guitar ace James Burton (Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band) hits the boards running assisting Dale Hawkins on ‘Suzie-Q’. Though only 16, Burton was already showing great potential. In no time at all he was playing some sublime licks on singles by Bob Luman (‘Red Hot’) and Ricky Nelson (‘My Babe’, ‘Don't Leave Me This Way’). By the time he was he was both playing gigs with Luman and playing on the Town Hall Party TV country show. His playing of Merle Travis’ ‘Cannonball Rag’ by which time he was out of his teens is so good you can’t help be want to play it again and again! Make no mistake, as of the late 1950s James Burton set the benchmark for others to aim for.
While there are more with Nelson who was just a year older than Burton the release is peppered with rarities and great ones they are too. There are a couple of hugely enjoyable pieces where Burton plays Dobro under the guise of Jimmy Dobro —as on the sporty ‘Everybody Listen To The Dobro’ (w/ vocalist Darlene and her band, The Blossoms). Plus he supports The Green Valley Boys featuring Glen Campbell (‘Poor Boy Looking For A Home’) and how about his typical later to be heard in Ms Harris’ Hot Band signature licks on lead guitar on the Buffalo Springfield track ‘A Child’s Claim To Fame’; man, what great seamless, to die for vocal harmonies. Apart from his early 1960s stamped fare with Nelson and the Everly Brothers we also see him stretch out some on two instrumentals with steel guitar ace Ralph Mooney and twang on two tracks with the Shindigs there is some hot as a pistol guitar from 1956 when he supported Carol Williams (‘Just For A While’) and a cut with Lee Hazelwood he could do it all. Rockabilly, rock‘n’roll and country! Of the latter ‘The Guitar Player (The Ballad Of James Burton)’ sung by Buddy Gagle contains some fine chicken pickin’ country licks as performed by Merle Haggard’s lead guitar ace Roy Nichols and who Burton stood in for on the duet instrumental album with Mooney. He also did session with with Merle Haggard (‘If You Want To be My Woman’) and knew all too well how to spice up Merle's rocky side. Others to gravitate to include two instrumentals with Shreveport bass guitar player, Joe Osborn with whom he recorded on Fabor records as Jim & Joe and had work with him on the Mooney duet album.
If you are a fan of the latter and country rock James Burton is the kind of guy you can’t get enough off for along with Nelson it was his dynamic picking that made ‘Stop Sneakin’ Around’….he was around when sessionmen were allowed to make they own, individual mark (check-out how he helps shape the excellent David (Gates) & Lee's (Leon Russell) ‘Tryin’ To Be Somebody’ for it to take on a Nelson-ish feel. Hey, man i would have loved a full album of this music since it is great! And yes, Ace Records have promised there is another to follow. It too will as on this occasion undoubtedly, come with wonderful liner notes.
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