Superpicker Chet Atkins (1924-2003) had an awful lot of influence on the growth of the country music industry and the stylistic direction the music took in the post-WWII era. He played on a bazillion hillbilly and pop sessions in the late '40s and early '50s, and perfected a super-smooth, note-perfect style that many will say has never been matched. More importantly, though, was his work as head of A&R for RCA Nashville, where Atkins had a formative impact on the development of country music. Not an entirely positive influence, to be sure, since he was a primary architect of the dreaded, overly-sophisticated "Nashville Sound," which in turn led to the even more dreaded "countrypolitan" pop-country fusion of the late 1960s and '70s, and by extension, every pop-oriented stylistic watering down ever since... Still, the dude is a legend, and deservedly so. Here's a quick look at his work.

Discography: 1940s-1960s | 1970-2003 | Best-Ofs

Chet Atkins "Galloping Guitar: The Early Years" (Bear Family, 1993)
A 4-disc collection covering Atkin's earliest work... Plus all the great Bear Family archival material -- old photos, liner notes, the works!!

Chet Atkins "The Early Years: 1946-1957" (Proper, 1962)
This 5-disc package mirrors the Bear Family box set, but without the fancy packaging and the depth of archival presentation... Pretty cool, though, if you're just looking for the music.

The Country All-Stars "Jazz From The Hills" (Bear Family, 1993)
This high-powered team of Nashville studio superpickers included Chet Atkins, George Barnes, Jethro Burns, Jerry Byrd, Homer Haynes, fiddler Dale Potter and others, plunking out playful jazz with a twangy touch... This collection includes the entire 1953 String Dustin' 10" as well as other sessions led by guitarist George Barnes, but with significant overlap in the musicians. Want to hear Chet Atkins indulge his jazz sweet tooth? And Jerry Byrd adding a few spiffy licks on the steel guitar? Then you'll want to check this one out... it's a mighty fine record!

Chet Atkins "Chet Atkins' Gallopin' Guitar" (RCA Victor, 1952) (10-inch LP)

Chet Atkins "Stringin' Along With Chet Atkins" (RCA Victor, 1953) (10-inch LP)

Chet Atkins & The Country All-Stars "String Dustin' " (1953)

Chet Atkins "A Session With Chet Atkins" (RCA, 1954) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Stringin' Along With Chet Atkins" (RCA, 1955)

Chet Atkins "Chet Atkins In Three Dimensions" (RCA, 1955)

Chet Atkins "Finger Style Guitar" (RCA, 1956)

Chet Atkins "Chet Atkins At Home" (RCA, 1957)
Chet Atkins "Chet Atkins At Home... Plus" (2008)

Chet Atkins "Hi Fi In Focus" (RCA, 1957)
Chet Atkins "Hi Fi In Focus... Plus" (2008)

Chet Atkins "Chet Atkins In Hollywood" (RCA, 1959)

Chet Atkins "Hum & Strum Along With Chet Atkins" (RCA, 1959) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Mister Guitar" (RCA, 1959)

The Nashville All-Stars "After The Riot At Newport" (RCA, 1960)
With the Nashville All-Stars...

Chet Atkins "Teensville" (RCA, 1960)

Chet Atkins "The Other Chet Atkins" (RCA, 1960)

Chet Atkins "Christmas With Chet Atkins" (RCA Victor, 1961)
Nashville's superpicker of superpickers gets homey with the holiday spirit... This'll hit the spot if you're up for a bit of twangy yuletide cheer. (For more Christmas music, check out my Hillbilly Holiday section.)

Chet Atkins "The Most Popular Guitar" (RCA, 1961)

Chet Atkins "Back Home Hymns" (RCA, 1962)
The ever-silky Atkins touch is applied to a dozen old-time hymns, some better known than others. Chet takes it slow, which is pretty nice on the more vigorous melodies, (like "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and "Lonesome Valley"). On the churchier numbers, though, it can get a little leaden. A nice new take on this traditional material, with Chet's buttery electric guitar weaving a whole new experience of these fine old tunes.

Chet Atkins "Caribbean Guitar" (RCA, 1962)

Chet Atkins "Down Home" (RCA, 1962)

Chet Atkins "Our Man In Nashville" (RCA, 1963) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Teen Scene" (RCA, 1963)

Chet Atkins "Travelin' " (RCA, 1963)

Chet Atkins "Guitar Country" (RCA, 1964)

Chet Atkins & Hank Snow "Reminiscing" (RCA, 1964) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Progressive Pickin' " (RCA, 1964) (LP)

Chet Atkins "My Favorite Guitars" (RCA, 1965)

Chet Atkins "More Of That Guitar Country" (RCA, 1965)

Chet Atkins "Chet Atkins Picks On The Beatles" (RCA, 1966)

Chet Atkins "From Nashville With Love" (RCA, 1966) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Music From Nashville, My Home Town" (RCA-Camden, 1966)

Chet Atkins With Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops "The Pops Goes Country" (RCA, 1966) (LP)

Chet Atkins "It's A Guitar World" (RCA, 1967)

Chet Atkins "Picks The Best" (RCA, 1967) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Class Guitar" (RCA, 1967) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Hometown Guitar" (RCA, 1968) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Solid Gold '68" (RCA, 1968) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Solo Flights" (RCA, 1968)

Chet Atkins "Lover's Guitar" (RCA, 1969) (LP)

Chet Atkins "Solid Gold '69" (RCA, 1969) (LP)

Chet Atkins & The Nashville String Band "The Nashville String Band" (RCA, 1969)

Chet Atkins With Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops "Chet Picks On The Pops" (RCA, 1969) (LP)

Hick Music Index

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