I believe that Chet Atkins' best solo records come from the 50s and 60s. Afterwards he settled into the role of a "country gentleman", big label executive and godfather of the country music. While all that success was certainly well-deserved, it took some of the edge from his playing; Chet did not take risks on his records anymore, preferring instead a smooth, very produced and orchestrated sound. However, he did not lose his spark of genius, but it often took another musician to bring it out. In addition to his radio fodder, Chet recorded a number of duo records with other guitar players, and you can hear that these were done not for the commercial demand, but for the pleasure of playing with a fellow musical giant. The duet with Lenny Breau is a case in point.
Lenny Breau is a fingerstyle jazz player, whose life fits only too well in the "troubled genius" mold: his brilliance on guitar was combined with a difficult personal life, complete with psychological instability and drug addiction, and an untimely, violent end at 43yo. Chet's playing was a major inspiration for Lenny Breau; they were introduced to each other and Atkins, very impressed, also became Lenny's producer, mentor and musical partner.
Standard Brands is a record amazing for the virtuosity of the players, for the telepathic rapport between them, for the effortless genre-hopping - the pair feels equally at home with the jazz standards, bossa of Batucada, and country of Cattle Call, - and for the simple joy of making music that rings in every note. Most highly recommended!
Lenny Breau and Chet Atkins - Standard Brands, 1981
190VBR, 44 mb
3. Cattle Call
4. Taking A Chance On Love
5. Somebody's Knockin'
6. This Can't Be Love
7. This Nearly Was Mine
8. Going Home
9. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
You can read more about Breau here or here.
A solo Lenny Breau album here: The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau Live