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Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:08 am

Tony Trout wrote:
londonflash wrote:He is quite rightly acclaimed as an influential player. His work in the studio with Elvis, when he cut loose, is brilliant. Play Promised Land or I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water and tell me he wasn't great.

The entire TCB Band were pretty much on cruise control after '73, but a lot of the blame there lies squarely at Elvis' feet. He was the man in charge.

Elvis focused his attention on bombastic ballads that Burton had little room to play on, throwing away a lot of the rock numbers that would have been more up his guitarist's street. Night after night it must have become quite dull and the whole thing fell into a rut, with the band playing by numbers and offering little in the way of innovation or variation.

At the end, it was more about picking up a decent wage than making great music, wasn't it?



You said what I tried to say in my reply....but only better.


Thanks Tony. I thought your post was on the money.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:44 am

He's got to be something if Fender make a signature guitar series with his name on ;)

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:40 pm

londonflash wrote:
Tony Trout wrote:
londonflash wrote:He is quite rightly acclaimed as an influential player. His work in the studio with Elvis, when he cut loose, is brilliant. Play Promised Land or I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water and tell me he wasn't great.

The entire TCB Band were pretty much on cruise control after '73, but a lot of the blame there lies squarely at Elvis' feet. He was the man in charge.

Elvis focused his attention on bombastic ballads that Burton had little room to play on, throwing away a lot of the rock numbers that would have been more up his guitarist's street. Night after night it must have become quite dull and the whole thing fell into a rut, with the band playing by numbers and offering little in the way of innovation or variation.

At the end, it was more about picking up a decent wage than making great music, wasn't it?



You said what I tried to say in my reply....but only better.


Thanks Tony. I thought your post was on the money.



Thank you. :)



fabregaz wrote:He's got to be something if Fender make a signature guitar series with his name on ;)



I have a mixed opinion about the Fender Telecaster Signature Series. TBH, the only thing you're really buying is the name on the headstock (including James'). But, he deserves the four signature series Teles ever bit!! So many artists were influenced by him and even studio musicians (Former: Keith Richards/Latter: Brent Mason). K.R. has even made the statement, "When I went out and bought Ricky Nelson records, I wasn't buying a Ricky Nelson record, I was buying a James Burton record."

I know that Fender has produced (in limited quantity, sadly) the '68/'69 Paisley Reissue Teles but, they're so far off the mark as far as correct coloring and pattern that it's ridiculous. Fender actually couldn't give the Paisley Telecasters away when they first manufactured them because nobody was going to be seen playing a pink guitar (they're actually called, "Red Paisley", and not Pink Paisley). However, after James began playing his Paisley Telecaster that Fender gave him, they instantly became popular.

I wish that Fender (and not the Custom Shop) would produce a run of these Teles in their correct pattern and coloring at an affordable price and not ask 4K-6K for them as is the Custom Shop's practice. The RI's (reissues) are too much of a Barbie pink and too far off the mark from the original color.

Emmylou Harris holds high praise for James. The reason she wanted him in her "Hot Band" (now called the "Nash Ramblers") was because she knew his work was/is legendary and she was proud to have him in her band, alongside Bob Warford, who's another great guitarist but...he didn't stay with the music very long....he's now a lawyer.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:21 am

there Is no live album I listen where I wonder what are theese 2 guys on Elvis left with guitars for - for at least 60 % of time they are not there - and If you look at films you will see that also

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Sun Jun 15, 2014 1:45 pm

sasho wrote:there Is no live album I listen where I wonder what are theese 2 guys on Elvis left with guitars for - for at least 60 % of time they are not there - and If you look at films you will see that also



I don't understand the last sentence that "I wonder what are these 2 guys on Elvis left with guitars are for - for at least 60 % of time they are not there - and if you look at films, you'll see that also". It doesn't make sense. :?

James was where Elvis wanted him - to his left on stage. James wasn't one of these guitarists who jumps around to make sure everybody knew he was there. James is a well-versed guitarist in both studio and live stage work etiquette, per se. Elvis even recorded/rehearsed in the studio with the band basically in the same "stage plot" - in other words, the band in the studio were placed in position as if they were performing on stage. Depending on the song, James was either well out front or equally in the mix (for ballads, specifically).

Also, there were times that, in the studio, James didn't play electric guitar. He was asked to sometimes play dobro (as on the studio cut of, "Funny How Time Slips Away" & "Make The World Go Away" from 1971's, "Elvis Country" album) or acoustic guitar on 1972's, "Separate Ways."

On songs like, "I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water" or "Cindy", James' Paisley Telecaster can definitely be heard loud and clear! A lead guitar player isn't supposed to continually "overplay" or "step on" the lead vocal - they're there to compliment the lead vocal.

When you listen to the live albums, do you not hear James "accenting" Elvis's vocal lines? That's what a "lead" guitarist does. As for John Wilkinson? He was the rhythm player - there was also a guitarist in the orchestra playing rhythm as well. A rhythm guitarist only keeps the "rhythm" of the song. John Wilkinson is actually the guitarist you hear kicking off the song, "Stranger In The Crowd", from TTWII-SE.

Both James and John were the only two members of the band who never missed a single show with Elvis - that's well over 1,000 shows in an eight year period - quite a feat if you ask me....

James isn't going to be everyone's favorite player for whatever reasons. I, myself, don't consider him a very good "teacher" as far as the Hot Licks instructional DVD, "Legendary Guitar Of James Burton." Why? The lessons bounce around too much and don't stay in one place very long and the editing is very erratic.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Sun Jun 15, 2014 10:39 pm

Tony Trout wrote:
sasho wrote:there Is no live album I listen where I wonder what are theese 2 guys on Elvis left with guitars for - for at least 60 % of time they are not there - and If you look at films you will see that also



I don't understand the last sentence that "I wonder what are these 2 guys on Elvis left with guitars are for - for at least 60 % of time they are not there - and if you look at films, you'll see that also". It doesn't make sense. :?

James was where Elvis wanted him - to his left on stage. James wasn't one of these guitarists who jumps around to make sure everybody knew he was there. James is a well-versed guitarist in both studio and live stage work etiquette, per se. Elvis even recorded/rehearsed in the studio with the band basically in the same "stage plot" - in other words, the band in the studio were placed in position as if they were performing on stage. Depending on the song, James was either well out front or equally in the mix (for ballads, specifically).

Also, there were times that, in the studio, James didn't play electric guitar. He was asked to sometimes play dobro (as on the studio cut of, "Funny How Time Slips Away" & "Make The World Go Away" from 1971's, "Elvis Country" album) or acoustic guitar on 1972's, "Separate Ways."

On songs like, "I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water" or "Cindy", James' Paisley Telecaster can definitely be heard loud and clear! A lead guitar player isn't supposed to continually "overplay" or "step on" the lead vocal - they're there to compliment the lead vocal.

When you listen to the live albums, do you not hear James "accenting" Elvis's vocal lines? That's what a "lead" guitarist does. As for John Wilkinson? He was the rhythm player - there was also a guitarist in the orchestra playing rhythm as well. A rhythm guitarist only keeps the "rhythm" of the song. John Wilkinson is actually the guitarist you hear kicking off the song, "Stranger In The Crowd", from TTWII-SE.

Both James and John were the only two members of the band who never missed a single show with Elvis - that's well over 1,000 shows in an eight year period - quite a feat if you ask me....

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Very nicely stated, Tony. Elvis was doing a very wide variety of musical styles in the 70's, but guitar was always a part of it. I think years of guitar hero/god worship have conditioned a lot of us to think a lead guitarist is supposed to be playing screaming loud solos over everything, jumping around like a maniac. Elvis knew what he was doing when he hired James. He knew that James could play anything he asked him to.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:48 pm

James is one of the all time greats as music magazines and fellow professionals regularily claim. That doesn't mean everyone has to like his style. But it was the Elvis show and not the JB show. When JB got the opportunity to breath he played some great stuff. Listen to the outakes during the Nashville 70's recordings, Faded Love, Cindy Cindy, Washed My Hands. When EP cut him some slack he was fantastic. The Sound Board recordings that are more balanced towards the guitar are enlightening. JB was working hard throughout gigs which often goes unnoticed on the more balanced recordings where horns for instance might drown him out. JBs work on Never Been To Spain from MSG is superb - Memphis Blues Chords I think? His performance on Black and White Night is excellant also his jowsting with Bruce Springsteen is a joy. I saw James in Newcastle just a few years ago and with his own band fronted by Billy Swann he was amazing, plenty of freedom to do long solos and generally improvise. I got to shake his hand and get an autograph but got tounge tied and couldn't think what to ask him, derrr!

James definately floats my boat but I like the other guitarist mentioned also. It's a tragedy that Hank never got to fulfill his potential. I love those early 60's recordings, probably mt favourite era. But JB suited 70's Elvis.

cheers Jamie

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:27 pm

Jamie wrote:James is one of the all time greats as music magazines and fellow professionals regularily claim. That doesn't mean everyone has to like his style. But it was the Elvis show and not the JB show. When JB got the opportunity to breath he played some great stuff. Listen to the outakes during the Nashville 70's recordings, Faded Love, Cindy Cindy, Washed My Hands. When EP cut him some slack he was fantastic. The Sound Board recordings that are more balanced towards the guitar are enlightening. JB was working hard throughout gigs which often goes unnoticed on the more balanced recordings where horns for instance might drown him out. JBs work on Never Been To Spain from MSG is superb - Memphis Blues Chords I think? His performance on Black and White Night is excellant also his jowsting with Bruce Springsteen is a joy. I saw James in Newcastle just a few years ago and with his own band fronted by Billy Swann he was amazing, plenty of freedom to do long solos and generally improvise. I got to shake his hand and get an autograph but got tounge tied and couldn't think what to ask him, derrr!

James definately floats my boat but I like the other guitarist mentioned also. It's a tragedy that Hank never got to fulfill his potential. I love those early 60's recordings, probably mt favourite era. But JB suited 70's Elvis.

cheers Jamie

Wow, James with Billy Swan, sounds like a treat! I saw Billy 20 years ago when he had a group with Randy Meisner (Eagles, Poco, Stone Canyon Band) and Alan Rich (Charlie Rich's son). Heck of a nice guy, and great band.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:45 pm

U can't blame James for any of his playing on stage. Elvis was the boss. They were all doing what Elvis wanted and liked. Elvis gave them all a chance to stretch out when he added the band solos. and u can't expect any of that band to tell Elvis how they thought things should be done. Their boss was ELVIS.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:09 am

James being able to stretch a little more with Emmylou:

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Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:29 pm

Thanks. Great clip. Never seen this one before.

Maybe some may not like his sound but to call him an unworthy guitar player is really an insult :twisted: He is one of my heros and there are few guitarists that can give color to a song like him. One of my favourite tracks fewturing James is "I'm the train" on the album Dreams & Saturday Nights by Bob Woodruff.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:55 pm

Mr burton is mt guitar hero! Loved how he accompanying Elvis voice!

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:26 pm

Can't beat JB on this one! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OHk09y1DpU&t=2m30s

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:17 am

Burton is Burton. Elvis loved his playing. 'Nuff said.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:17 pm

James Burton was and is a fantastic guitar player. His work on EPs live shows 1969-1973 is tremendous and he also made magic in the studio for The King. It was not Burtons┬┤fault that EPs live performances were on autopilot after Aloha. Elvis did not even rehearse with his band after 1975.

Re: James Burton and his guitar playing

Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:31 pm

samses wrote:James Burton was and is a fantastic guitar player. His work on EPs live shows 1969-1973 is tremendous and he also made magic in the studio for The King. It was not Burtons┬┤fault that EPs live performances were on autopilot after Aloha. Elvis did not even rehearse with his band after 1975.


A great recording to hear Burton and his work on the Elvis show is the Boston, MA tape from November 10, 1971. His guitar is upfront and overdriven...very nice.