A man of class and vision, Chet Atkins cut such a wide swath through country music history that a two-disc sampling of his work as a solo artist and accompanist tells but a bit of the whole story. A visionary producer and talent scout, he (along with Owen Bradley) built the modern Nashville recording industry in the '50s and re-energized country's flagging commercial appeal by adding strings and vocal choruses and ejecting the fiddle and pedal steel. He influenced several generations of country, rock, and jazz guitarists and championed music without borders, as evidenced here by his impeccably realized eclectic guitar stylings for artists ranging from Mother Maybelle Carter and her daughters to the Everly Brothers to Lenny Breau to Mark Knopfler. The first of these two discs surveys Atkins's output from 1946 through 1959, starting with his first recording, "Guitar Blues (Pickin' the Blues)" for the Bullet label; Disc 2 begins in '59 and wends its way through the decades, concluding with a cut from the Almost Alone solo sessions in 1995. It's an amazing journey in six-string discourse, with Atkins proudly and liberally quoting influences from Merle Travis to Django Reinhardt at every turn and engaging in playful sonic experiments (such as 1956's "Trambone" and 1959's "Boo Boo Stick Beat") that are both clever and accessible. The playing is precise and clean but never lacking in soul or wit, and at times the shifting textures within a song are startling (check out the fanciful take on "Listen to the Mocking Bird," tellingly retitled "Hot Mocking Bird"). Two especially precious moments: Atkins's driving guitar behind Don Gibson on "Oh Lonesome Me," one of country's great recordings; and a genial vocal and instrumental dialogue with Merle Travis on Shel Silverstein's "Is Anything Better than This." Well, no.