If a person is judged by the company he or she keeps, then musically Arlen Roth is just fine as he has surrounded himself with some of the finest slide guitarists on the planet. Rick Vito, Lee Roy Parnell, Greg Martin, David Lindley, Sonny Landreth, and the late Johnny Winter all lend a hand on his new album release, Slide Guitar Summit.
Arlen Roth is a guitar god and renaissance man. He authored a column for guitar magazine for over a decade, his Hot Licks Video about guitar education has sold in excess of 2.5 million copies, his online lessions have over one million followers, and he has played with the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, John Prine, Bob Dylan, Janis Ian, Dusty Springfield, The Bee Gees, Ry Cooder, and dozens of others.
His new album covers a lot of styles and types of music due to the diverse talents of his guests. Lee Roy Parnell provides the slide duet and vocal for the cover of Robert Johnson’s blues classic “Dust My Broom” and returns for a funky rendition of Lowell George’s “Dixie Chicken.”
There are several stripped down performances that are both creative and entertaining. Sonny Landreth and Roth rock out with just an upright bass in support on “Sonny Skies.” The traditional “Poor Boy Blues” is simpler still as it is just Jimmy Vivino, Roth, and their guitars. “Her Mind Is Gone” find Roth and David Lindley trading licks on only their lap steel guitars.
Greg Martins brings a country element to the album on the old Jimmie Rodgers tune “Peach Pickin’ Time In George” and the gospel song “Amazing Grace.
The most poignant track is his duet with Johnny Winter on “Rocket 88.” Roth saw Winter play at Woodstock at the age of 16 and now trades licks in what may have been the last studio recording of Winter’s career.
Slide Guitar Summit is an album that lives up to its billing as Roth has the experience and talent to meld his style to that of some excellemt guitar players. It is a slide guitarist’s delight and easily lives up to its title. One of the better releases of early 2015.