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Classic of the Week

October 06, 1994|RANDY LEWIS

Leo Kottke

"6- and 12-String Guitar" (1969)


Kottke's approach to music making is uniquely American--in the best sense of all that entails. Combining unswerving dedication to craft, a complete disregard for musical convention and deliriously eclectic tastes, this Georgia-born, Minnesota-reared singer-songwriter-guitarist virtually invented his own musical category.

His phenomenally accomplished guitar technique was born fully matured on this debut album, released the same year that man stepped into the powdery dust of the moon and the viscous mud of Woodstock.

What's immediately apparent here is his instrumental proficiency, whether it's the nimble folk-flavored finger-picking of "The Driving of the Year Nail" that opens the album, his purely classical plucking on Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," or the slashing, stinging slide work on "Vaseline Machine Gun."

Over the years he has refined and expanded his art, but the seeds of nearly everything he's done in the 25 years since his debut are here.

The only thing missing from this all-instrumental outing is his equally unique voice, the perfect vehicle for his predictably unpredictable lyrics.

Even though his physical voice didn't show up until later, his musical voice is unmistakably clear.

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