The Leo Kottke Anthology
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Don't fret! This anthology includes guitar master Leo Kottke's best from 14 albums for the Takoma, Capitol and Chrysalis labels.
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Media Type: CD
Title: LEO KOTTKE ANTHOLOGY
Street Release Date: 05/06/1997
Of course, newcomers to the legendary finger-style wizardry of Leo Kottke should pick up the guitarist's 1969 debut, 6 & 12 String Guitar, before they consider anything else. After listening to that masterpiece--on which Kottke plays lightning-fast instrumentals that sound like a cross between John Fahey and Bill Monroe--you can't help wanting to hear his other stuff. And Anthology is a great launching point, covering Kottke's music from 6 & 12 String through to 1983. Whereas Fahey, Kottke's finger-style forefather, ventured into weird tape loops and effects as his career progressed (and distanced his personality from his playing), Kottke did the opposite. His playing has slowed down, but Kottke now fashions himself as a singer/songwriter. And on songs like "Tiny Island" or "Julie's House"--the latter a duet with Emmylou Harris--he sounds heartfelt and human, like a more sincere version of Loudon Wainwright III. A few essential cuts are missing here, mostly from the first half of his career, and there are a few oddball tracks--Kottke warbling through "Eight Miles High" is one--but get used to it: every platter the guitarist has released seems to have a dud or three. Doesn't matter, though. To guitar fans, he'll always be godlike. --Jason Verlinde
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Top customer reviews
You have noticed that this review was only given four stars. The first impression was not quite as good as I had hoped for it to be. It could have been my listening mood for that day but fully intend to give it time.
So, one day, I was flipping through my trust iPhone's music collection, and I realized that it was a little light on the Kottke tunes. So I said to myself, "Brad," (for that is my name), let's check iTunes for a cannonical collection of Kottke's killer tracks." (Yes, I often do speak in alliteration.) Alas - iTunes was bereft of some serious Kottke collections. So I availed myself of Amazon.com's search engine. Lo and behold, there was my dream set - a 2-CD collection of not just the best of Kottke, but the best of the best. A veritable tour de force of the man's career. So I bought it.
It did not disappoint.
Flipping through the tracks, you'll find everything you expect in a canonical collection, and a whole lot more. If you're a Kottke fan (and if you're not, why are you reading this review), buy this collection now. If you're new to Kottke, this set is the best place to start, to become a member of the Leo Kottke Appreciation Society.
Two thumb(pick)s up.
It was also the first time I'd heard Kottke sing...after reading the "geese farts" comment about his voice I was hesitant to buy vocal albums. But I was not disappointed. In person, and older now than when this album was published, his voice has more of a softness and sweetness than on this recording. But the recording is still wonderful. "Pamela Brown" is wryly moving, and "Tiny Island" ... ah well... I could single out just about every song for one reason or another. So true, so rich. There's nothing like him.
The only fault of the album would be that you can't just put it in and not sit and listen. You can't work to it..you need to sit outside and watch the day, or put it in the car and go for a long drive. And of course, smile.
As other reviewers have noted, Kottke has frequently been compared to John Fahey for his impressive guitar skills, but like someone else noted, I think Kottle's work is more listenable and entertaining. Yes, he dazzles on the strings, but he also is astute enough to know when to slow down and caress a song, offering sweet, lovely tunes, and at other times charming and quirky ones. And if you've ever had the pleasure of seeing this man in concert, you will also know that he is a charming and funny fellow too, the consummate entertainer.
So yeah, if you are looking for a place to start your Kottke collection, this 2-CD is an excellent place to begin. It cuts off in the early 1980s, before he started recording for the Private Music label, so you miss some of songs from that period (and there are plenty of good ones on those albums too!), but for a satisfying sampling of his earlier years, some would say his prime time, this collection is wonderful.