Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Brent Mason, John Jorgenson, and a host of other modern country pickers would happily admit that they would be playing guitar quite differently had it not been for a diminutive Englishman named Albert Lee. In the Seventies, Lee merged the styles of James Burton and Jimmy Bryant into a hybrid of string bending and hot licks that formed much of the basis of modern country guitar (that is modern COUNTRY guitar, not the Seventies rock guitar that informs so much Nashville product).
Lee came to prominence in America through his work with Emmy Lou Harris' Hot Band. It was there that he honed the electric (in both meanings of the word) solos that dropped the jaws of other guitarists. Bill Wyman and the Everly Brothers have been keeping him busy in recent years, but for those who miss the Hot Band sound of yore, Road Runner will come as a welcome return.
Lee starts out with the title track, a barnburner take on the Junior Walker classic. The tune tells the tale of a man who "can’t stay in one place too long," an apt description of the constantly touring guitarist himself. The solo features an electronic delay used to double the amount of notes--a technique Lee himself made popular.
Not a prolific songwriter, the guitarist has always exhibited exquisite taste in tunes. A simple yet effective singer (and a fine pianist as well), here he romps his all star core band (Don Heffington, Bob Glaub, Buddy Emmons) through songs by John Hiatt, Richard Thompson, Billy Burnette, and others that all fit his style to a tee. His one composition--the instrumental "Payola Blues"--is likely to leave a whole new crop of guitarists shaking their heads and contemplating a career in computer science. • Michael Ross