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The Jam Session: Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant

 Glenn Brooks, Jason Staczek, Scott Boggan and Mark Oppfelt do some semi-serious listening accompanied by Pyramid Snow Cap Ale and Ballard Brewing Company Winterhook.

Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant  Stratosphere Boogie (the review)
 Glenn and Mark had heard this CD

"Stratosphere Boogie"
S You got the speed set right on that CD player? With your tractor beam?
M This is on 45.
G On this one, yeah, Jimmy Bryant is playing a twelve-string tuned in thirds to give it a Les Paul sound - it's like a double-tracked Les Paul sound, only it's just one guy.
M Is this considered a pedal steel or a lap steel?
G Well, there are two. Jimmy Bryant is playing the regular guitar and Speedy West is playing the pedal steel.
S You think Junior Brown's ever heard this guy?
G I think Junior Brown is both of these guys reincarnated simultaneously.

"Blue Bonnet Rag"
M This is just wild, this wheeooo slide.
G Yeah, Speedy West was a little wierd.
S So any vocals on this?
M No, all instrumental. Is it four-track or all live, do you think?
S Two mikes and let 'em go. Or is it all mono?
G Yeah it's all mono. What's the latest track? 1956.

"Cotton Pickin'"
M This is a good one.
J Did Jimmy Bryant play jazz too?
G I don't know. I think this is all they did. Most of these are from an LP "Two Guitars Country Style."
J 'Cause at the beginning of that tune, did you hear that intro he played?
G Uh huh, yeah.
S I know, how'd they dream up these guitar melodies?
M This is a Jimmy Bryant original tune here, recorded 5/1/54.
J For being recorded in '54 the guitar sounds really clean here.
G Yeah, they did a nice job on the remastering.

"Old Joe Clark"
J Wow. And this is not even the one they call Speedy.
S Sounds double-tracked, doesn't it?
G It could be. It does say, "Jimmy Bryant lead guitar on all tracks" and then, on some it also says "Jimmy Bryant Stratosphere doubleneck guitar." It's hard to tell.
J You think Speedy is leaning over him on the second neck?
M They take their turns.
S A bit of parry and thrust?
G I think Perry and Thrust covered a lot of these tunes, later in their career.
M Neil Perry and Bob Thrust?
J Sounds like New Orleans, doesn't it, this one?
M Smoking!
S I mean how could he play this in one take, if you think about it? He hasn't hit a sour note the whole solo. I mean for like three minutes. How many notes did he play?

"Arkansas Traveler"
M "Nashville ignored pedal steel guitars until Bud Isaacs played one in 1954." Crazy!
G So they were kind of L.A. guys. That makes sense. Bob Wills spent most of his time in California. You think of him as a Texas guy which is where he came up from, but he was in California for years.
S Probably played to all of those people who came over during the...
G The dust bowl, yeah. I hadn't thought about that--all the okies. And the GIs and military workers during the war. Makes sense.

"The Night Rider"
M Almost like Esquivel kind of...
G Yeah that's it--the exotic stuff married with straight country swing. It's kind of strange sometimes.
J Jet age.
M There's your boogie woogie piano.
G Yeah--this is just, both in sound and in time, two years away from rockabilly.
J There's a lot of jazz inflection in Jimmy Bryant's playing.

"Low Man on a Totem Pole"
G It's hard to believe they did this with no overdubbing, and...
S One take...
G They could do it in one take. That's why they were in LA, cause they could hit it every time.
J I wonder if that's why he's called Speedy?
G That could be--not because of his playing but...
S This is pretty damn good. It says Jimmy passed away in 1980 from lung cancer. Speedy...
J Died of a broken heart?
S is paralyzed in his right side and has to wear a large mitt-like sling, but he's still a guest at steel guitar shows.

Copyright © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.