Speedy West, pedal steel master, and Jimmy Bryant the guitar wizard teamed up for these astonishing recordings and gave to posterity some of the most mind-annihilating music ever committed to tape.
Transcending all notions of genre (Western Swing, Rockabilly, Old Country) these two guys are masters if there ever was a use for such a term. As fast as Fanfare Ciocarlia, as precise as U. Srinivas, and as fun-loving, unpredictable and ridiculous as Perrey & Kingsley, you’re not accustomed to hearing American musicians excel like this. Because they’re all dead. But these 1951 recordings provide proof that once upon a time giants walked the earth, even here in Hell. There is nothing to compare this to. No overdubbing or studio-fuckery, there’s no way this is possible. Yet there it is. And they’re just laughing about it. They just shit these recordings out as a joke pretty much. How horrifying. The chemistry between these guys is priceless, and that alone obsoletes “shredding” in the current sense of so-called musicianship. Because the magic touch is there in every note — it’s not just fast, it’s supersonic, and yet unlike modern day speed demonism, it’s totally listenable. Every note is arrived at through musical mastery.
Nowhere does anything sound calculated; there’s spontaneity written all over these tracks. And even though it’s lighthearted, it’s still deeper than most of us can even imagine — like going to the house of some classical Indian masters and after dinner they break out the instruments to screw around just for laughs. Only these masters are white guys in Tennessee or something. Truth told, you’ll return to this again and again. We heard this shit in a gas station in Texas once, so it’s still appreciated and well loved & not just some “novelty” to a lot of people, which is sure nice to know.
But get ready to cry from laughing too hard. You can forget ever playing the guitar again…
-Trevor Dunn, for Web Of Mimicry Records
STRATOSPHERE BOOGIE: The Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant Collection Vol. 1