Danny Gatton(2)

Live in 1977—The Humbler Stakes His Claim [Powerhouse]

Recorded at a variety of small clubs in the Washington D.C. area, this album features tons of terrifying guitar work by the “Master Blaster of the Telecaster.” At the time, Gatton was becoming legendary for his blazing speed and explosive displays of improvisational genius. Gatton only recorded two albums under his own name in the ’70s, so this ten-song collection is quite a treat. The recording quality isn’t the greatest—and you hear plenty of audience chatter and tinkling of glasses—but drop the needle anywhere on this album and prepare to be, well, humbled. Along with the displays of superhuman fretwork on cuts such as “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Danny’s Blues”, we also get to hear Gatton doing one of his signature tricks—a dicey procedure that involved starting his Echoplex playing whatever was last recorded on it, and then harmonizing over those parts while the band played along.

Gatton also enjoyed filling the keyboard role with his own Hammond B3-sounding guitar parts, although the late keyboardist Dick Heintze (whom Gatton cited as a key influence) is featured on the sci-fi madness of “Rumble/Harlem Nocturne.” The first “new” commercially available Gatton material to emerge in years, this CD takes you back to a time and place when one could regularly stroll into a bar and watch one of the greatest superpickers of all time wowing the locals with his mind-bending guitar antics.
—Art Thompson