6- and 12-String Guitar

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6- and 12-String Guitar
Studio album by Leo Kottke
Released December 1969
Recorded Empire Photo-Sound, Minneapolis, MN
Genre Folk
Length 34:36
Label Takoma (C1024) (later as TAK 7024)
Leo Kottke chronology
12-String Blues
(1969)
6- and 12-String Guitar
(1969)
Circle Round The Sun
(1970)

6- and 12-String Guitar is the second album by Leo Kottke, a solo instrumental steel-string acoustic guitar album originally released by John Fahey's Takoma Records in 1969. It is popularly known as the Armadillo album after the animal illustrated in the distinctive cover art (by Annie Elliott). Although Kottke has recorded dozens of additional albums, 6- and 12-String Guitar remains his best-known album.

History[edit]

The album showcases Kottke's early, hard-driving polyphonic finger-picking style (which eventually led to him developing tendinitis and having to change his playing approach).[1] Even at the fastest tempos the notes are clean and crisp, with a distinctive tone. True to its title, the album contains performances on both 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars, some using a slide. Although Kottke has included vocals in other albums, this album is all instrumental – the liner notes contained Kottke's famous apology that his voice "sounds like geese farts on a muggy day."

All the tracks were written by Kottke except Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, Kottke's arrangement of the familiar Bach piece.

The album had a large influence on, and was an inspiration for, guitarist Michael Hedges, who would later tour with Kottke.[2]

This album has been re-released as an SACD.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone favorable[4]

Writing for Allmusic, music critic Richie Unterberger wrote of the album "Kottke's brand of virtuosity, however, is more soothing and easy on the ear than Fahey's. It's far from sappy, though, the rich and resonant picking intimating some underlying restlessness, like peaceful open fields after a storm. Establishing much of the territory Kottke was to explore throughout his career, this release was also one of his most popular, eventually selling over 500,000 copies."[3] Rolling Stone brought the album to a wider public with its review in 1970 by Carl Bauer, in which he wrote: "With all the shit that has been released recently, it was a distinct pleasure to come across this album... Kottke isn't a new addition to the Page-Beck school of grating, hypertensive guitarists, as if you were expecting that. He's an acoustic guitarist from Minneapolis whose music can invoke your most subliminal reflections or transmit you to the highest reaches of joy... anything in addition to his guitar would be superfluous."[4]

Track listing (with Kottke's notes)[edit]

Side One[edit]

All songs written and composed by Leo Kottke, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "The Driving of the Year Nail" (From an old Etruscan drawing of a sperm cell) 1:54
2. "The Last of the Arkansas Greyhounds" (A terror-filled escape on a bus from a man fired from Beaumont ranch) 3:18
3. "Ojo" ([shown as "The Ojo" on the label] Ojo Caliente where Zuni hid from Esteban, the Moor, and the Spaniards) 2:14
4. "Crow River Waltz" (A prayer for the demise of the canoe and the radar trap without which Federal prisons will have to be rebuilt to accommodate prepubescence) 3:20
5. "The Sailor's Grave on the Prairie" (Originally written to commemorate Nedicks and a Minneapolis musician's contempt for the three a.m. cheeseburger with a nickel slice of raw) 2:34
6. "Vaseline Machine Gun" (1) for waking up nude in a sleeping bag on the shore of the Atlantic surrounded by a volleyball game at high noon, and 2) for the end of the volleyball game) 3:11
7. "Jack Fig" (A reluctant lament) 2:14

Side Two[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Watermelon" (While at Watermelon Park Music Festival I had the opportunity to play banjo in the middle of the night for a wandering drunk. When I finished he vomited – an astute comment on my playing. Made me feel very distinguished) 3:12
2. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (J.S. Bach The engineer called this the ancient joy of man's desire. (Bach had twenty children because his organ didn't have any stops)) 2:24
3. "The Fisherman" (This is about the mad fishermen of the North whose ice fishing spots resemble national shrines) 2:32
4. "The Tennessee Toad" (Who made an epic journey from Ohio to Tennessee) 2:40
5. "Busted Bicycle" (Reluctance) 2:48
6. "The Brain of the Purple Mountain" (From A.L. Tennyson) 2:11
7. "Coolidge Rising" (While rising from the sink, cupboard doors opened and engulfed his head; while turning to the right to avoid the whole incident he walked into a refrigerator – which afforded a good chin rest for staring at some bananas in a basket) 2:50

Personnel[edit]

  • Leo Kottke – 6- & 12-string guitars

Cover design by Annie Elliott (who also did the cover for 12-String Blues)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ellis, Andy. "Interview with Leo Kottke". The Guitar Show. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ Prasad, Anil. "Inspiration and Imagination". Innerviews. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie (2011). "6 and 12 String Guitar – Leo Kottke | AllMusic". allmusic. Retrieved June 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Brauer, Carl (2011). "Leo Kottke: 6- And 12-String Guitar : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". web.archive.org. Retrieved June 29, 2011. 

External links[edit]