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Classic Album Review-Roy Clark “The Other Side Of Roy Clark”

Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Today’s Classic Album Review puts the guitar squarely in the spotlight, and that guitar was in the hands of one Roy Clark. 1970 was the date of release for his The Other Side Of Roy Clark on Dot Records. It was his second album of instrumental material, following his 1968 Urban, Suburban release. No singles were released from the album.

The album kicks off with a jazzy version of “Back Home Again In Indiana”. I really like this track and that has nothing to do with me being a native Hoosier, either. Brisk and lite, it’s simply a great piece of music that is flawlessly executed by Roy Clark and company.

One could make a strong argument that Roy’s prowess with the guitar is as good as that of Chet Atkins, and while I’d still put Mr. Guitar on top of the list, as I sit here, I can’t think of anyone whom I’d put in front of Roy Clark for second. “Perfidia” is another great piece of music that, again, falls more to the Jazz genre. Smooth and relaxing, this is just about as good as it gets with a guitar.

“Maria Elena” gets an almost-expected “south of the border” treatment, with some lovely Latin American-influenced sounds on the medium tempo piece.

Chet Atkins included the classic “Yesterday” on his classic Chet Atkins Picks On The Beatles and it’s a performance nothing short of outstanding. Roy Clark included the classic “Yesterday” on his The Other Side Of Roy Clark and it’s a performance nothing short of outstanding. The style is a little different, but the picking is simply wonderful and only further highlights the beauty of one of the world’s most beautiful melodies.

Side one ends with Roy’s take on “The Poor People Of Paris”. For those who are familiar with, or remember the Les Baxter hit version, this version may seem stripped down compared to the big orchestra sound of the original hit, but still, nothing to complain about, here, as Roy Clark, seemingly without much effort conquers one of the 1950′s finest melodies.

Side two kicks off with a smoking version of a track titled “Black Sapphire”. Here, he gives the strings and pick a real workout. The track starts out fast and only gets faster; one of those tracks where you find yourself wishing you could watch him as he was playing it, because you simply cannot believe someone can play a guitar like this.

“Goodbye My Bluebell” is another quick-paced, lite and airy piece, an old melody given a fresh Country-Jazz feel, here.

Things slow down with Roy’s take on the Platters’ classic “Twilight Time”. Unlike some of the tracks, nothing fancy, here, just good solid music.

I think Roy gives “Meet Mr. Callaghan” a completely different feel than Chet Atkins’ version and it’s a feel that I really like. Smooth, flowing, relaxed swinging, slightly jazzy; all good descriptions for this track.

As a kid, I never paid much attention to Roy’s take on “Malaguena”, which was included on his The Best Of Roy Clark album, always skipping over the track. I now regret that, because listening to it, now, I can hear why this was included as one of his best; because it is. In fact, on our review of that album, I commented that the picking was so hot that the strings were surely smoking by the end. This is some simply incredible guitar work, right here. Again, a track you wish that you could watch be played.

Out of print, you should be able to find a used copy, relatively easily. I found several used copies, all under $10.

My Standout Track goes to “Malaguena”, while the Hidden Gem is “Black Sapphire”. Both are outstanding pieces. No songs are weak, nor are they bland or forgettable.

Overall, this is a great piece of instrumental music. I don’t know what critics thought of the album when it was released, but I hope it wasn’t passed off as a Chet Atkins-copycat, because while there are some similarities in sound, the differences are far greater. This is one of those albums that one listens to then wonders how it ever stayed under the radar, especially considering the level of Roy Clark’s popularity, at the time of the album’s release. I give this one a 5 out of 5.


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