This is the second album by Leo Kottke and one that possibly contains a few of his better known tracks too.
The album features (as the title suggests) a number of 6 and 12 string guitar solos, which are for the most part pretty engaging and upbeat in the American Folk Guitar style. In fact the whole album consists of some pretty hard driven guitar plucking show-casing Kottke’s style and talent. The pick of the album for me has to be “Vaselene Machine Gun”. Here, we hear Kottke at his best. This is a very complex, hard charging and hugely rhythmical guitar piece played with energy and rare talent. Every note is perfect, and the use of a guitar slider adds atmosphere and a hint of Southern Blues to the playing. It starts slow, but with intent, then picks up the pace with some great 12 string guitar action played at lightning speed. No better than Jack Fig or Coolidge Rising which are also on the album, just a more memorable tune perhaps.
Unlike some of Kottke’s later albums, there’s no lyrical accompaniment on this album, indeed the album notes contain Leo’s famous apology for his voice sounding ” like geese farts on a muggy day”! as an excuse just to concentrate on playing his guitar through some fast tempo’d music which has a very distinctive tonality. Kottke was to pay for his playing style and frequency of practice as in later years he developed tendinitis, forcing a change in his later playing style. Thankfully, he didn’t suffer from this when recording this album.
Some of the pieces you will recognise, such as Kottke’s take on Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, here played with delicacy yet with a hint of Kottke’s style, just enough to make the piece his own. Other pieces have a fusion like quality that is almost indefinable…hints of Sitar come and go, making you wonder where the inspiration came from. But that’s the point, it’s music that engages the thoughts as well as the emotions. If hard paced steel string acoustics isn’t your bag, then this isn’t for you. If you like Blues or Folk steel string styles with a hint of turbo-charging, then it most definitely is.
Musical Interest 6
Sound Quality 7