Wednesday, January 14, 2009

John Fahey

Biography from Rolling Stone:

John Fahey preferred album titles like Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes, and Blind Joe Death, suggesting either a dark private humor or plain morbid fixation, but this Maryland guitarist's forte is music of an exhilarating, almost rapturous beauty. Uplifting or soothing, tinged with melancholy, his sets of country blues, Scotch-Irish folk, or classically derived melodies showcase often dazzling acoustic-guitar work. Generally unaccompanied and without overdubs, he crafts complex tapestries of sound; his virtuosity is less a matter of speed or jazzy convolution than tone, and Fahey's guitar resounds like no other. Big, bell-like, immediate, helped out by very clear production, his tone comes through like a signature. Confusingly, he rerecorded a number of LPs because he thought his technique had improved, and one of his finest releases, Of Rivers and Religion, features a whole band with horn charts. A very consistent artist -- the assured delivery of "Old Southern Medley" off The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death, from 1973, isn't dissimilar to his rousing take on Eric Clapton's "Layla" (from Let Go) -- Fahey kept to a very high standard through much of his 40-year career. Gorgeous mood music that can provoke trance and reverie, his albums might appeal to New Age listeners -- but his music is denser and smarter than that genre. He survived for years as a perennial Christmas-music favorite.

Fahey's stubborn, outsider nature and his '60s experimental works led to his rediscovery as an indie hero; his final albums, however, are feeble echoes of the more clever curios on Voice of the Turtle and The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party. Newcomers will do well with Return of the Repressed or the best-of anthologies; Vol. 2, selected by guitarist Henry Kaiser, is particularly well programmed. Fahey's stoic combination of deep sadness and unshakeable resolve to transcend will keep his work forever in fashion. (MILO MILES)

This Biography Came From 2004's The New Rolling Stone Album Guide


"Red Pony" 1969

"Wine and Roses" 1978