January 11, 1991 at 05:00 AM EST

Neck and Neck

Current Status
In Season
Chet Atkins, Mark Knopfler
We gave it a C-

Has Mark Knopfler gone soft in his old age? Last year he and three British cronies put together the Notting Hillbillies. That pickup band turned out a self-named album in homage to the American South that was well-intentioned but a total snore. And now, Neck and Neck, is a cornball duet record with Chet Atkins, Nashville’s Mr. Guitar. Lately Atkins has concentrated on New Age jazz and fusion, but on this collaboration producer Knopfler simply gives those styles a nod and then moves on to ”aw-shucks” country dreck. Worst offerings: Knopfler’s back-patting ”The Next Time I’m in Town” and an excrutiating parody of ”There’ll Be Some Changes Made” in which the 66-year-old Atkins declares a taste for ”groupie girls.” Just because Knopfler wanted to make a vanity album with his guitar hero is no excuse to foist it on the rest of us. C-

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