WHY?

The range of artists stepping up to pay tribute to the master electric guitarist as he turns ninety is staggering. From '50s and '60s guitar slingers like Buddy Guy, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Steve Miller to stars of subsequent decades like Billy Gibbons, Joe Perry, Richie Sambora, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, they cross continents and generations. The songs celebrate the Les Paul guitar as well as the man. While he appears throughout, he's part of a generally raucous setting that leaves no volume knob unturned. The guests are often also the vocalists, but it's the guitars that carry the day. Purists may wag their fingers at the use of Sam Cooke's vocals in a contemporary recording, but Les Paul himself was never afraid of what new possibilities a tape recorder could unlock. --David Greenberger

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