I think people expect him to be a awesome musician because hes and awesome player. Personally, it seems like hes a top tier player, with below average musicanship. In short, hes a player more than a musician.
I think that's an artificial separation. If his musicianship isn't there, then he's not really a very good player. I happen to believe that Rusty could do a lot more interesting music than he released to date, which is why he's frustrating to me.
But to all the people that "hate" him? Thats just silly. He could play ANYONE that says that under the table. Just because he isnt as good as a song writer as he is a player doesnt mean you should dog him.
In terms of his picking speed, he can play me under the table. But the other myriad things that go into being a guitar player? I'm not so sure about that. I don't hear Rusty doing anything all that fabulous when it comes to phrasing. The little things that give a guitar player his voice.
Rusty sounds exactly like a guy who spent the last 20 years practicing his picking speed for 12 hours a day, but not nearly enough time doing anything else. In this new song, I'm finally starting to hear some hints that Rusty is more than just a picking machine. I'd like to hear more of that. And yes, I'd be more inclined to buy a Rusty album that didn't feature some guy shrieking or grunting over it.
It seems like hes fallen victem to being too good in one area, and for some reason, its backlash city.
In general, I think you're correct. For me, it's that he doesn't often demonstrate being good in any other area.
I'm about Rusty's age and went through the same mindset for years (but obviously not as accomplished at speed-picking). Problem is, as fast as you can pick, there will always be somebody faster around the corner. But your phrasing and voice on the guitar, and your musical vision, will always be yours alone. And once you stop picking up a guitar for the sole purpose of showing off, you can start accomplishing things.