Producers: Leo Kottke, Kenneth Buttrey, Denny Bruce, T-Bone Burnett.
ESSENTIAL LEO KOTTKE is a mixed bag compilation of several albums Leo Kottke recorded in the '70s and '80s. There's enough classic knuckle-busting 12-string guitar here to satisfy the hardcore enthusiast, plenty of fluid slide work, and some other surprises and experiments.
"Airproofing," based on a lick reminiscent of Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally," shows off Kottke's signature thumb-picking to good effect. "Side One Suite" is a set of gorgeous and thoughtful ruminations that venture into modern classical guitar territory, and finally lead to a jaunty, slippery coda. Kottke sings on a few of these cuts, and in spite of his extreme self-denigration (he has referred to his singing as "geese farts on a muggy day"), "Learning the Game" and "Rings" have an unexpected sweetness and tenderness. Some of the band cuts sound like great tracks awaiting a killer set of lyrics, but that's okay--the incredible rhythmic drive and sculpted phrasing that Kottke brings to his playing provide more than enough aural stimulation. Kottke stopped recording for several years after 1983, due to injuries sustained during relentless pursuit of his craft. Therefore, don't try this at home.