Years ago, anyone who wanted to learn to play guitar had the choice of going to a teacher for lessons or trying to learn from the hundreds of tutor books available. In those days, everybody wanted to be either Segovia or Hank B. Marvin, depending on what particular style you wanted to play.
It is, therefore, very refreshing to find that someone has decided to release an album aimed at those who have learned the basics of the guitar, but who want to apply that knowledge to a rock guitar style. "Teach Yourself Rock Guitar — Volume One" (Stallion/Belmont BUSAR 243) is the first release of a four-part series from the USA, which features Charlie Daniels playing and explaining what rock guitar is all about. Currently fronting The Charlie Daniels Band, he is well-known for the many Nashville sessions he has taken part in, which include Dylan's "Nashville Skyline", "Self Portrait" and "New Morning" albums.
Charlie has an endearing southern drawl, which immediately puts you at ease. He runs through a variety of items starting off with advice on tuning, use of scales and chords, and progresses onto demonstrating what he calls "chicken pickin'" or "fatback". He then goes on to single string lead lines and shows you how to combine the two. All the points covered are explained very logically. For example, when he demonstrates string-bending he suggests that if you are having difficulty in bending the strings, it could be that the gauge of string you are using is too heavy. So from here he goes on to advice on choosing string gauges. Side One ends with Charlie and his group jamming on a slow blues, demonstrating what he has covered so far.
On the second side of the album, Charlie briefly touches on alternative tuning, slide or bottleneck playing and his views on playing fast. He then explains the difference between large and small amplifiers, and their use in the studio.
Towards the end of Side Two, Charlie is joined by a bassist and drummer who proceed to play a slow blues, in which Charlie takes the rhythm part, leaving the listener to improvise over the twelve-bar backing. The album finishes with the same treatment of a funky "fatback" jam, again leaving the listener to provide the lead guitar part. This, of course, is ideal for the learner who hasn't got the facilities or perhaps the confidence to play with other musicians.
Enclosed with the album is a chord sheet with diagrams and photographs of the chords used. Overall, an excellent idea, well-executed and I look forward to the rest of the series.