The Legend and the Legacy

Les Paul’s guitar playing has inspired and influenced countless other greats, many of whom have made the Gibson Les Paul their instrument of choice. What’s more, the studio equipment and methods he invented are at the heart of modern recording technology. Yes, the music world owes the ”Wizard of Waukesha,” now 76 and still performing, an incalculable debt. But The Legend and the Legacy, an attempt to even accounts — a handsome, superbly annotated four-CD boxed set — goes way overboard. While the unfailingly pleasant pop and jazz standards, some featuring sweet multitracked vocals by the late Mary Ford (who was then Mrs. Paul), are engaging souvenirs of another era, five hours of this stuff turns Memory Lane into an endless highway. Charming comic segments from the couple’s radio show and a selection of commercial jingles (including an embarrassing Asian-dialect spot for Robert Hall clothing) break things up a bit, but the diversity of songs like ”Tennessee Waltz,” ”Honolulu Rock-a-Rolla,” and ”Brazil” is still largely geographic. Less Les would have meant much more. B-

The Legend and the Legacy
  • Music