Merle Travis & Joe Maphis

June 17, 2005

The title says it all. Travis and Maphis were the best of buds for a major portion of their storied careers, from their stints on the Town Hall Party television show in the mid ’50s all the way up to their last recorded pairing, 1979’s Country Guitar Giants—and this reissue of 1964’s Country Music’s Two Guitar Greats captures both guitarists at the height of their powers. The duo’s take on the Western swing standards “Corrine Corrina” and “Kentucky Waltz” offer tasty and clever arrangements, with the latter finding Travis comping behind an uncharacteristically subdued Maphis solo, with some lovely, chimey harmonics. Conversely, the Maphis/Travis-penned “Blast Off” is nothing more than a launching pad for each guy to flaunt his bad-ass-ability. Travis’s harp-like banjo rolls and beautifully warbled, Bigsby-tinged chords play off of Maphis’ raison d’etre: face-melting, caffeinated flatpicking that dances on top of the beat so much, you wonder if the dude had a train to catch! This is pure hillbilly shred. (Sundazed) —Darrin Fox

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