Guitar Player

Double Talk

RELEASED IN 1990 on Columbia Records, Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler’s Neck and Neck remains my all-time favorite Chet record. Although it’s certainly not a quintessential example of his work and style, it’s a world-class example of great craftsmanship and well-seasoned guitar playing. The masterful production was overseen by Knopfler.

Les Paul once said the first song of a set is when the audience is opener, “Poor Boy Blues.” Although this vocal track won Best Country Vocal Collaboration at the 1991 Grammy’s, it’s probably my least-favorite song on the record. That said, it’s an easygoing invitation to the second track, “Sweet Dreams,” which is so relaxed and lovely, it feels like one is laying on water while having a pleasant dream. The inventive arrangement exemplifies the powerful subtle touches all over . The original tonic G major is prefaced by a B7 chord that pulls us to Em. Together with the following A7, this has a ii - V tonality, but the A7 still functions as the secondary dominant of the upcoming D7 chord. Forgive the theory analytics. More simply, Chet and Mark change one chord and the result is a whole new tonal landscape. It’s a brilliant addition. Meanwhile the guitars play simple, captivating melody lines that I’d be hard-pressed to edit. I couldn’t veto one single note. Their musical lines are as memorable as the song’s original melody. Underneath it all, the rhythm section softly percolates as Paul Franklin plays perfect steel pads and the legendary Floyd Cramer brings his iconic stylistic piano fills. It’s a little masterpiece.

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