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Master Of The Electric Steel Guitar 1935-1950 Western Swing Chronicles, Vol. 5
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Audio CD, November 30, 2010
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Bob Dunn (1908-1971) was the amplified steel guitar's first stylist. His recordings with Milton Brown & his Musical Brownies were only the first in of a 15-year career that resulted in some of the most startling and unique solos in western swing history. This 2-CD box set contains 53 newly-remastered performances from original 78s, restored by Michael Kieffer. A comprehensive booklet includes four essays by historians Kevin Coffey, Cary Ginell, Jeremy Wakefield, and David Sager, dozens of previously unpublished photographs, and full discographical details.
When Dunn solos, you don't hear the sweet and dulcet tones of the familiar pedal steel (which had not yet been invented), You hear a lurching, perpetually off-balance-sounding cascade of bent broken tones, raw trombonelike swoops and smears, advanced harmonic substitutions that occasionally make Dunn sound like a proto-bebopper, abrupt squeals of feedback, bell-like harmonics, and above all, a sense of delighted discovery and bemusement, as if the unlikely sounds coming out of Dunn's amp were startling him as much as his listeners. --Robert Palmer
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Everything about this release is excellent. Quality through and through, with great care taken in the packaging, the extensive liners, and the music itself.
If you like pre-war jazz, blues or country, you will love this set. Heck, if you like music you will love this. This man was genius on the steel, but what he played transcended the instrument or musical style. Pure genius.
The two CD's cover a wide swath of western swing music, roughly 15 years of Dunn's performances with groups ranging from Milt Brown, Cliff Bruner and Bill Mounce to Dunn's own groups. Hearing some of these songs, especially after reading some of the liner notes, was revelatory. The sounds coming out of that steel guitar were WILD!
I particularly enjoyed the larger format booklet that accompanied the DVD-size packaging. Of interest are the FOUR separate liner notes, which cover Bob Dunn's discography, his biography, a great piece by modern steel legend Jeremy Wakefield about the style of Dunn, and a shorter piece about Dunn and his trombone. Never knew he played the trombone before this set.
Bob Dunn: Master of the Electric Steel Guitar is HIGHLY recommended for fans of world class swing, Western Swing, and all around great (steel) guitar playing. Also - by buying this set you keep your money in the USA, folks - no German reissues or cheapie ripoff outfit here.