Sometimes compilations can be kind of … meh. They can often be a random sampler without much cohesion. Sometimes they turn out to be a historic record, especially when grouped around a theme or instrument, like Masters of Slide: The Spider Sessions, a resonator guitar collection put together by beloved Dobroman Phil Leadbetter.
Leadbetter tips his hat in the liner notes to the 1994 Grammy winning album produced by Jerry Douglas and Tut Taylor, The Great Dobro Sessions, which served as somewhat of an inspiration.
Rob Ickes, 13-time IBMA “Resophonic Guitar Player of the Year,” was the “young guy” on that album and returns on Masters of Slide, featured on one of the 23 cuts. The roster is stacked with longtime pros at the top of their games and up-and-comers as well.
Justin Moses offers “Fire on the Mountain,” and Ickes and Josh Swift combine on “You’re a Freak” and Swift returns later with “If.” Leadbetter takes a turn on Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”
However, a show stealer is Abbie Gardner’s “Down the Mountain,” an original she wrote and offers her incredibly bluesy voice. She has an album out in 2021 of her just her and her instrument, and if this sample is any indication, DobroSinger is going to be a must-have.
There really is just too much to cover in a review of this packed CD. Ferrell Stowe checks in with his hit “Stobro’s Blues” and Curtis Burch covers the gospel angle with a lively rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Vastly underrated Steve Toth is featured on “Step to It” and Sally Van Meter and Orville Johnson team up for the bouncy “Tex Mex Shindig.”
Those are just some of the highlights on this loaded album. Leadbetter has not only provided an enjoyable listen, but a valuable service to the music. When the next generation looks back to see who the players and what they were playing, this will be a key artifact.
Leadbetter also mentions that not every great player was on Masters of Slide and plans on future volumes. Here’s hoping there isn’t a 25-year wait.