various artists,
Anthology of the Twelve String Guitar
(Tradition, 1963;
Empire Musicwerks, 2006)

In the early '60s, at the height of his popularity and influence, folk legend Bob Gibson began working with the 12-string guitar on records and in concerts. Immediately, folkies all over the nation began banging away on 12-strings. For most, the philosophy seemed to be, "twice as many strings, twice as loud," but some artists were able to see beyond the increased volume and recognized the artistry of the instrument. In 1963, Tradition Records gathered together eight of the best players for this album.

Some of the names here are surprising. Not many people remember that Glen Campbell was at one time a top-notch musician, capable of subtle playing and fine musical ideas even in uptempo, hard-driving tunes like "Bull Durham." Jazz guitarist Howard Roberts contributes an original based on the folk riffs that were current at the time and shows himself to be as comfortable with acoustic music as he was jazz.

Bob Gibson himself, who was largely responsible for the increased popularity of the 12-string, gives us his show-off tune, "12-String Guitar Rag," which drives along like a Ferrari, while the leader of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn, also gives us an original, "Saints Soul Song," which uses banjo lines as its theme. Country guitarist Joe Maphis and studio ace Billy Strange are on the record, too, and between them, all of these artists pretty much show us what the instrument can do.

If you're a musician, this album will have you wondering if you should buy yourself a 12-string.

by Michael Scott Cain
20 January 2007

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