Released in the early 1950’s, the Fender Telecaster was the first commercially successful solid body guitar and has been used by blues, rock, and country bands ever since because of its distinctive tone (and relatively cheap price!). Famous artists like Buck Owens, Albert Collins, and Muddy Waters played the Telecaster in the fifties and Keith Richards and Jimmy Page have used it in an exquisite manner since the 1960’s. On his new album, Tele Masters, Arlen Roth displays his own love and mastery of the Telecaster with a stellar set of 16 tunes.
Over the years, Arlen has performed with Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Levon Helm, Ry Cooder, Johnny Winter, Rick Vito, and Sonny Landreth (click here for a great live performance by them of Blues Attack ) to name just a few. He has been voted one of the 100 Most Influential Guitarists of All Time by Vintage Guitars magazine….and my bet is that many of you have never heard his music! Well, I hope we can change that after a listen to this inspiring new album.
The list of artists that contributed to this effort is impressive. The most notable to regular readers of my blog is Joe Bonamassa. Joe’s Blues is Bonamassa’s tribute to the legendary Albert Collins and is a must have for collectors of Joe’s tunes. Also contributing on the recording are Steve Cropper (yeah THAT Steve Cropper), Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Jack Pearson, Albert Lee, Jerry Donahue, Johnny Hiland, Bill Kirchen, Brent Mason, Will Ray, Red Volkaert, Cindy Cashdollar, Billy Panda, Bryan Sutton, Tommy MacDonald, and Steve Wariner. The drummer on the album and its producer is one of my favorite people, Grammy Award winner Tom Hambridge who plays with Buddy Guy. Tom’s production of the songs brings out the best in Arlen and showcases the distinctive attributes of the Telecaster in a way that is engaging and entertaining. The album is primarily instrumental but features several songs with vocals that I really loved.
Jack Pearson, a notable musician and singer who played with the Allman Brothers Band and also toured with Gregg Allman, is featured on vocals and guitar on two awesome blues cuts: I Can Fix It (where he and Arlen do a great job of trading guitar licks) and on an inspiring version of Key to the Highway. The fabulous Steve Cropper contributes vocals and guitar licks on the bluesy White Lightning. All three cuts will get significant airplay during my upcoming sets on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com.
But what truly underpins this album is the guitar artistry of Arlen Roth. He recorded his first album in 1978 and now, fifteen albums later, we hear his guitar playing at its very best. Besides the blues tunes, he romps through a haunting rendition of Ghost Riders in the Sky, a lovely cover of Tennessee Waltz with his daughter, Lexie Roth, on vocals, cranks it up on Rumble, and then lays down the case for why the Telecaster is such a great guitar on the badass instrumental, Tuff Tele.
This album is worth spending an evening with as I have done. Get yourself a drink, a smoke, or whatever relaxes you and telecast the night away with Arlen Roth and friends.
2019 Aquinnah Records