Sunday, December 18, 2005

Arthur Smith and His Crackerjacks: Guitar Bustin' (MGM)

Arthur Smith is best known for his 1948 instrumental smash "Guitar Boogie." Now, it's 1959 and The Virtues have a hit with a song based on "GB" called "Guitar Boogie Shuffle." Looks like Arthur and his boys are going to have to answer back with some "Guitar' Bustin,' " hence this entry.

Smith had been active on radio in North Carolina since the 1930s, also running his own studio in Charlotte since the 50s. His recording of "Guitar Boogie" made the Top 10 on Billboard's country charts in 1948 and then crossed over to the pop charts. It was one of the first records to feature an electric guitar. But by 1958, electric guitars were all over the place. But that didn't stop Smith and his crew from rockin' out with the best of 'em. Neither did the fact that Smith was better known for country and gospel, either.

"Guitar Bustin'" is two minutes and 20 seconds of pure guitar swing with a bit of piano thompin' away there. Of course you know by the title that the guitar is the prominent instrument here and there's lots of good and loud guitar here. Smith even throws in a little snatch of "Guitar Boogie" to remind us of his past glories. But it doesn't matter because the band rocks, the guitars roll and the song's so infectious it defies you not to come along.

Smith's last country hit came in 1963 with a novelty number called "Tie My Hunting Dog Down, Jed." Small wonder that "Rockin' the News," the B-side of this is also a novelty. "Guitar Bustin'" is clearly the side to play here.

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