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84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Stunning Debut
No one--and I mean no one--has produced a more stunning debut in any genre than Leo Kottke did with 6- and 12-String Guitar. And even more amazing, consider Kottke's comments from the liner notes in Anthology: "We didn't know about sequencing, so the record [6- and 12-String Guitar] is in the order it was recorded...The record took three-and-a-half hours to do,...
Published on February 11, 2000 by Steve Vrana

versus
2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars SACD can't improve bad recording
A CD in SACD format don't mean it sound good or better...I am very disappointed with this SACD, this is not a up to standard record period. Believe me, I know how a good recording sound like and I have great gears to expose the quality of a recording...
I believe all those positive reviews is a result of "marketing" at work...
Published 20 months ago by Marvin Y. Chang


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84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Stunning Debut, February 11, 2000
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
No one--and I mean no one--has produced a more stunning debut in any genre than Leo Kottke did with 6- and 12-String Guitar. And even more amazing, consider Kottke's comments from the liner notes in Anthology: "We didn't know about sequencing, so the record [6- and 12-String Guitar] is in the order it was recorded...The record took three-and-a-half hours to do, and all I had to do was sit down and play everything I ever knew." This is 36 minutes and 38 seconds of genius. I'm willing to bet that Kottke ended many a would-be guitarist's career. [How could you listen to this album and expect to compete at the same level?]
Kottke can play achingly beautiful melodies like on the original "Crow River Waltz" or Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and then turn around and dazzle you with with the speed and brilliance on tunes like "Busted Bicycle" and "Vaseline Machine Gun," (a tune he revisited on 1997's Standing in My Shoes).
While Kottke does possess a wonderful baritone voice and has worked with additional musicians, on this outing Kottke lets his guitar do all the talking--and it speaks with an authoritative voice.
This album was originally released on John Fahey's tiny Takoma label. While Kottke and Fahey are frequently mentioned in the same breath, Kottke's guitar style has always been easier on the ear. Over the last 30 years, Kottke has been responsible for some of the most innovative and beautiful solo guitar music. Here's where it all began. ESSENTIAL
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leo Kottke's Best Recording, September 23, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
The sounds on this magnificent album have stayed with me for many years. I've probably played it a thousand times and I never get tired of it. In my opinion, this is the best album Leo Kottke ever made, and Driving of the Year Nail is quite simply the greatest acoustic guitar instrumental ever. I'm so glad that it's the first track because once you hear it, you'll be pulled in to this album's magical universe. If you only own 1 Leo Kottke album, make it this one.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acoustic Guitar 101.., June 18, 2002
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This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
..for listeners, that is. For musicians it would be more like Advanced Guitar 490. If Robert Johnson hadn't already cornered the deal-with-the-devil legend thirty years previously, the superhuman playing on Leo Kottke's debut might well have prompted the same speculation even though there's no "Crossroad Blues" within earshot. The insane fingerpicking heard here gives the same "are you sure that's not *two* guitars?" sound as RJ while integrating some of his traditional blues, a good helping of rustic country, a lot of America's rich bluegrass tradition, and even a classical adaptation. And Leo did it all when he was 24. It boggles the mind.
In a short 37 minutes Kottke thrums, picks and twangs through a variety many others wouldn't match in two hours - slow ballads, bouncing hoedowns, and ripping fast tunes that'll leave guitarists of any skill level with their heads spinning. I don't just mean the hyper frenzy of, say, "Vaseline Machine Gun" or "Driving of the Year Nail" (although those two do blaze like he's a man possessed), but the way he plays counterpoint to himself, building different rhythms on top of each other all at the same time. That warm, easy voice we hear on other albums doesn't show up yet, but there's so much going on here that there's no room for any singing anyway. This disc is to folk/country what Kind of Blue is to jazz and what Led Zeppelin IV is to rock and roll. It's been a source of inspiration (and extreme frustration at times) for countless other guitarists for the last 32 years, and somehow the awe surrounding this record still hasn't faded. Am I exaggerating? Listen and decide for yourself. You may never listen to an unplugged guitar the same way again.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leo Kottke conducts a clinic on the extreme capabilities of the steel string guitar, August 30, 2006
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
I've listened to a lot of Leo Kottke over the years, both in concert and on record, and this has continued to be my favorite of all his albums. There are two reasons for this. One is that he frequently has recorded with backing musicians. The problem with this is that no session musician has anywhere near Kottke's virtuosic skill and no group of musicians provides an especially interesting setting for his music. The second reason is that Kottke has increasingly sung on albums. Now, I don't dislike Kottke's singing and I think his own description of it as resembling the sound of a goose emitting gas is more than a little harsh, and I thoroughly enjoy some of his covers, such as his wonderful rendition of Tom T. Hall's "Pamela Brown" and the Byrds' "Eight Mile High" (the latter in part homage to the second most celebrated 12-string player in the history of rock). Although he has recorded some fine albums--and even his weakest albums have some good moments--this one for me really stands out. No other recording puts his astonishing talent on display so purely. The story is that Kottke developed his style by learning to emulate the playing of Les Paul, without realizing that Paul laid down more than one guitar track. Perhaps the story is pure myth, but there no denying that Kottke frequently sounds as if he were playing two or even three guitars at once. But apart from the complexity of what he plays, there is also the amazing fact that he frequently does it on a 12-string guitar. I'm a decent finger picker (I'm not an especially good guitarist, but I'm a good finger picker and he makes me sound like I am better than I am), but when I've tried on a few occasions to attempt my rather simple picking on a 12-string, I find it nearly impossible to do so. Absolutely no one can finger pick a 12-string like Kottke, and I'm utterly in awe of the speed at which he plays and the finger strength it requires. I'm also a huge fan of the guitarist Kottke could be considered a disciple of (and on whose Takoma label this album was released), John Fahey. The latter is a superb musician (and I do prefer his arrangements to Kottke's) and his technique is as good as Kottke's, but there is no question that Kottke plays with a speed and ferocity that perhaps no other acoustic guitarist can match. I'm not sure that playing things that no one else (or at most only a very few) can play grants one the title of world's greatest guitarist (personally, I would give that title to someone like Richard Thompson, who although he does not quite approach Kottke's mastery, far surpasses him in musicality). I would be willing to say that Kottke is the world's greatest steel string virtuoso. There are a lot of superb professional guitarists who could not play the things that Kottke plays. I'd just like to add that the other thing that stuns me about Kottke is how clean his playing is. I've not spent a lot of time on a 12-string, but when I have I've noticed I make a lot of noise moving my fingers over the strings. But you rarely hear Kottke make a noise.

The numbers on the album are very much in the tradition of John Fahey's work, with one major exception. For the most part Fahey preferred to rework traditional tunes or songs. His arrangements are often as interesting as his playing. Kottke, on the other hand, on this album mainly works with original material. Anyone who has seen Kottke live knows that he is a very, very funny man, introducing songs with wonderfully self-deprecating stories and a sometimes macabre sense of humor. This can be seen in the strange titles he gives to these numbers. I can't see the reason for calling one number "The Last of the Arkansas Greyhounds" or another "The Brain of Purple Mountain." Mainly these songs exist to show off Kottke playing. Many of them are quite beautiful and even the weakest of them is fascinating. The technical mastery needed to play some of these songs is simply off the chart. Even with years of practice I know I could never play most of these. So part of the thrill of this album is hearing someone take the guitar close to the limits of what it is capable of. Kottke seems equally at home with slide or traditional chording and six- or twelve-string guitars. I might have a slight preference for hearing him on the 12-string, simply because so few great guitarists have tried to make it their main instrument. The only other player most people associate with the 12-string is Roger McGuinn and his Rickenbacker.

One great thing about this album is that it is despite its technical brilliance simply a great listen. Although you can certainly listen to it in order to try and figure out how Kottke is pulling off everything he is doing, you can also just sit back and enjoy some great tunes. For instance, you can really focus on the various components that make up "Vaseline Machine Gun" (in which Kottke shows the amazing things he can do with his thumb), or you can just tap your foot and have fun.

In closing, I'd like to say that of all the musicians I've ever seen live, Kottke might be the most likable. He seems like someone you'd love to have a beer with and swap stories. In lieu of that, however, you can enjoy this great album, which just might showcase the finest steel string acoustic guitar playing ever set to record.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The seminal steel-string guitar album, September 30, 2003
By 
Matchboy (Milwaukee WI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
I have no wish to duplicate my fellow Kottke admirers' reviews of this particular album, only to lend my own impressions of it. I was a young lad, jamming my foot into the door of the local 'underground' FM station in 1970; the station was getting all kinds of albums that year; it was a very busy time in pop music. I recall one of the DJs reading part of the liner notes out loud, and laughing; Kottke's first 12-string, a 'Mexican cheapie with a nail behind the 12th fret', and of course, the legendary, infamous, iconic remark about Kottke's voice resembling fowl flatulence on a muggy day. Then we listened to the album...and listened...and heard. My jaw dropped, literally; for years, "Busted Bicycle" was one of my favorite tunes from any genre, instrument, artist, etc., etc. I had never heard anything like this; nor had most of us. The sound of Kottke's finger-picks (he used them on that album) hammering the steel strings; his seemingly impossible skill with his fret hand; the slide work, especially on "Vaseline Machine Gun", and "Watermelon", where, when he slams that slide onto the strings, it sounds as if someone just dumped a box of clocksprings onto some taut metal cables...well, you get the audio image, I hope. There aren't any new adjectives to describe Kottke's talent, skill, and elegance; and I am even stealing this from some other reviewer: there are two levels in the world of finger-picking steel-string guitar: Leo Kottke...and everyone else. '6- and 12-String Guitar', though early in his recording career, remains a best-seller and even today ranks amongs his best efforts. You sit there listening, stunned, and wonder 'How the hell can he DO that'? Never mind how; just enjoy!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning., January 17, 2000
By 
Ken Dullea (Shadow Hills, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
Thank god for the internet. I first heard songs from this album while listening to the hober.com internet station. I would have it on 8 hours a day while at work, and much of the music would sit in the background while my mind was on other things. The moment Leo Kottke came on I had to stop and close my eyes and just listen. The music is so clear, strong, and true...it can't be ignored or passed over. The songs almost sound familiar, even on first hearing, but this isn't to say they aren't original: it's just that they seem to talk of things you know. I can't listen to it without pictures flowing through my mind...but then I try to make them go away so I can concentrate on the incredible technique. Bottom line: if I were trapped on a desert island with 10 cds for the rest of my life, this would be the one I'd protect from the monkeys.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For guitar enthusiasts, absolutely indispensable, March 25, 2007
By 
J. LaTorre (Sacramento, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
You have to understand, first off, that all those people who are calling the Armadillo album a "must-have record" or "the best solo guitar record ever" or "breathtaking speed and skill" are not exaggerating one tiny bit. This album is all that, and more. It is a watershed album ... when it came out, something fundamental changed in people's appreciation of what the guitar was capable of. It wasn't just the speed (which was astonishing) or the precision (which is impeccable). Tommy Emmanuel might be as fast, and Chet Atkins as precise, but Leo gives us something more.

What people generally miss is an appreciation of just how many musical genres Kottke has borrowed from and fused into his own unmistakable style. You can hear country, rock, blues, jazz, classical, Hawaiian slack-key ... and, I swear, even a bit of flamenco in there somewhere. It's all grist for his mill, and Kottke probably has more colors on his palette than any guitarist living or dead. And nobody had dared to blend so many of them, so deftly and confidently, into a single recording as he did on this one.

The marvel is that he has continued to develop this eclectic style over the years. Leo Kottke is one of a very, very few guitarists whose style you can identify within a few seconds, even if you've never heard that particular piece before. That he can continue to be this recognizable, yet still sound fresh and experimental, is what makes him a national treasure, and this album is the one that first showed it to us.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All That There Is or Ever Will Be, March 21, 2000
By 
Grant D. Aldonas (Arlington, Virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
I first heard Leo Kottke when I was playing guitar in coffe houses on the West Bank in Minneapolis in 1972, and have seen him since in places as far flung as Oslo, Norway, Wolf Trap near Washington, D.C., and Berkeley. The guitar work is always the same -- mesmerizing. 6 & 12 String Guitar is where it all began. Once you have heard this, you will always be comparing whatever else you hear on the acoustic guitar to Kottke's performance on this album. It leaves your soul aching for more. On top of that, Kottke is a terrific guy with a wife and kids trying to survive the winters in Minnesota. In these days of materialistic trash, you have to honor that as well as the purity of his vision and his music. Buy this disc! You won't regret it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest guitar albums of the 20th Century, April 27, 2004
By 
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
If Robert Johnson indeed sold his very soul to the devil, then the devil surely thrust part of his soul right back into the lap of young Leo Kottke in 1969. Vaseline Machine Gun amazed radio listeners when it first eminated from progressive, underground FM rock stations. I still vividly recall the first time I heard it on Detroit's legendary WABX in 1969. Yes, this album is naive and sloppy compared to Kottke's more technical offerings from the last 25 years. But, "6 and 12 String" will always remain as 37 minutes of some of the most shocking wildman fretwork, righthand thumbing and base slamming we will ever hear in our lives. It's one of the most exciting and importaint acoustic guitar albums of the 20th century.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Holy Grail of Fingerpicking, February 21, 2007
This review is from: 6 & 12 String Guitar (Audio CD)
It all starts here: anyone who plays knows that; for the sheer reckless abandonment that ultimately cost Leo his speed by way of carpal tunnel; for the articulate melodies and delightful possibilities; for the "what does THAT mean?" bewilderment over his liner notes that fueled our fuzzy minds. (Getting loaded on anything and listening to this was like going aloft like a kite.)

This is what sets Kottke (and later, the late Michael Hedges) apart: they truly understand the guitar as a percussive instrument. By the way, for those lucky to have seen Kottke concerts or found rare CDs of shows, his wandering comments onstage about song titles are often about the ingredients and inceptions of his work: hilarious monologues.

The tunes individually have unique personalities of energy, tones, and presentation: an auditory garden of flowers. Such technique and dexterity! Clarity! And fast--try doing the hop-scotch dance of harmonics that dazzles "The Driving of the Year Nail." It's his touch also--almost maddening for those who had been practicing (or wishing to play) and wondering how he made it sound so effortless and natural. "The Last of the Arkansas Greyhounds" rolls and bounces with a perpetual motion machine behind it (and alerting us to Leo's fetish for titles). "Ojo" is clean and bright, and I see images of an old grandmother-type with a shawl rocking an infant in a cradle over "Crow River Waltz." Leo's slide virtuosity is also introduced here on "The Sailor's Grave on the Prairie," and "Vaseline Machine Gun," an undulating gyration of leaping bottleneck instrumental tribute to a navy submariner buddy of Leo's that kicks off with a brief burst of "Taps").

"Jack Fig" is a treat to understand at this slow pace (it's a buzz saw in concert on My Feet are Smiling), but just as spectacular to see on video for his complex chording and picking. A close cousin is "Watermelon," and Leo's slide squawks show how well suited he is with a 12-string's tunings. Just to show he's done his studying, Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" is showcased for its pristine timeliness--you almost want to bow in tribute. "The Fisherman," a gorgeous tune by its simplicity, just bounds along like a happy puppy out for a walk, but "The Tennessee Toad" (Leo's sly dig at his father-in-law), oozes with molasses-like whining slide.

But "Busted Bicycle" saves the day--and recharges everything/one. Inspired by a wayward car and a friend's chained-to-the-lamp-post 2-wheeler, Leo works in an old blues riff (hey--the Stones used it on the Beggars Banquet LP) around a banjo picking style with a 12-string explosion. (Check it out live; it's a fireworks display.) More Dali-like titles ahead: "The Brain of the Purple Mountain" and "Coolidge Rising," but they're both full of fast and clean picking that just reminds you to hit the repeat button when it's all over.

This is something to share because the guy is making the art of guitar playing sound magical--like it's a universal talent for us all to try. Inspiration at its highest.
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6 & 12 String Guitar
6 & 12 String Guitar by Leo Kottke (Audio CD - 1996)
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