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Noteworthy new album heralds the return of celebrated pedal steel guitarist Lloyd Green

Noteworthy new album heralds the return of celebrated pedal steel guitarist Lloyd Green

Forced into early retirement in the late ’80s by an inner-ear disorder, pedal steel legend Lloyd Green had long been one of the most in-demand session players in Nashville, appearing on more than 100 No. 1 country singles and releasing more than a dozen of his own instrumental albums. Now recovered, the Madison resident is again recording and seeking studio work. The release of Revisited, his first solo recording in over a decade, demonstrates that Green’s expressive voice is as vital as ever.

Still performing on his 1973 Sho-Bud guitar, which he’s used on more than 5,000 studio sessions, Green employs a pedal and tuning configuration that’s relatively basic by today’s standards. Yet rather than limit him, this setup seems to spark fresh techniques and phrasings. While an educated ear can appreciate details like his use of bar slants or distinctive voicings, it’s Green’s focus on melody and feeling that engages the average listener. A quick read of the track titles on Revisited confirms the priority he places of these elements. From pop masterpieces like The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” and The Beatles’ “I’m Looking Through You” to the moving soundtrack compositions “Ashokan Farewell” (from Ken Burns’ The Civil War) and “Calling You” (from Bagdad Cafe), Green’s material wonderfully suits his soulful interpretive style. On a recasting of the Everly Brothers’ “So Sad,” his wistful notes slur through the instrument’s middle and upper registers in weepy harmonized pairs, answering Junior Brown’s low, mournful vocal in call-and-response fashion. One of only two songs on the CD that feature vocals, the ballad’s lamenting of “good love gone bad” would be just as heartrending were there no lyrics present.

As its title suggests, the album offers Green, now 66, an opportunity to revisit his legacy by rerecording four cuts on which he played during the ’60s and ’70s: The Byrds’ “100 Years From Now” (featuring Gillian Welch on vocals), Johnny Paycheck’s “Jukebox Charlie,” Mel Street’s “Borrowed Angel” and Gene Watson’s “Farewell Party.” The instrumental tracks find Green establishing the melody, then deviating from it with improvisation, where his mastery and tone convey the emotional heart of each song. His creativity is further evident on his one original composition, the soothing final track, “Hogan’s Dream,” which closes with Green’s steel stripped of all effects yet still singing beautifully—a cappella.

Green says that Revisited will almost certainly be his final instrumental album. If that’s the case, it will be unfortunate, for there are a select few who can say so much without uttering a word.

For more information, or to purchase Revisited, visit

—Doug Brumley


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