Mike Gordon & Leo Kottke

'Step' By Step

KottkeFormer Phish bassist Mike Gordon and guitar legend Leo Kottke offer up their second collaborative album, "Sixty Six Steps," this week via RCA Victor. The set blends a handful of originals with such covers as Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion," Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" and Pete Seeger's "Living in the Country." The follow-up to 2002's "Clone" was hammered out last December at Gordon's father's house in Costa Rica and recorded just before Christmas in the Bahamas.

"Going quick is a really good way to make an album," Gordon offers. "Coupling that with being in an exotic place and working quickly with that vibe, it keeps it very encapsulated, mood-wise. I really like the way that aspect of it came out. It kind of brought me somewhere special."

As for tackling a classic rock sacred cow like "Sweet Emotion," Gordon admits he was initially skeptical. "The record company told us they had a lot of luck on a couple of Leo's albums with cover songs that got airplay, and would we consider it?," he says. "At first, I was like, 'Well, f*** that!' We're not going to be told what to do! But I realized, actually, it's a nice idea."

Phish fans will also recognize album track "Ya Mar," which was often covered at the band's shows and has appeared on four of its "Live Phish" releases. "It didn't seem we needed to go in and try and record it," Gordon says of the Cyril Ferguson-penned, Mustangs-popularized tune. "But after working on it and adding and subtracting parts, eventually we liked the idea." The duo begins a North American tour Sept. 15 in Lawrence, Kan.

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