You can practically see the smiles exchanged between Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins as they trade licks on their 1990 collaboration Neck and Neck. These two guitar giants meet as peers and friends, finding common ground in a mutual love of old-time country, classic pop and vintage jazz. Knopfler’s clean, stinging riffs are complimented by Atkins’ fluid, succinct fingerpicking; Nashville legends such as pianist Floyd Cramer and multi-instrumentalist Mark O’Connor add their virtuosic touches as well. Highlights include a beautifully melancholy rendition of “Sweet Dreams,” a gently flowing take of “So Soft, Your Goodbye” and a brisk, sparkling treatment of “I’ll See You In My Dreams.” Knopfler invokes some of his old Dire Straits roots-rock spirit on a cover of Doc Watson’s “Poor Boy Blues,” while Atkins has fun recounting his early days on the genial “Yakety Axe” (a revision of Boots Randolph’s “Yakety Sax”). Rather than going for fireworks, the two guitarists aim to create a warm, sustained glow on Neck and Neck — and achieve it effortlessly.
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