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John Fahey: The Best of John Fahey, volume 2, 1964-1983

Charlie B. Dahan By

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It seems one of the happiest days in John Fahey’s life was the day he was included in Spin magazine's guide to “Alternative Music," which included biographies about such artists as Nirvana, the Pixies and Joy Division. This listing finally validated that someone understood him and his musical career. Often lumped into the categories of "folk revivalist," or even worse, "father of new age guitar," Fahey simply played his guitar with raw emotion and soul.

Fahey's compatriot Henry Kaiser assembles fifteen tracks of what he would hoped the departed Fahey would have compiled into a new collection of his works from 1964-1983. Kaiser chooses carefully those tunes that Fahey judged as some of his best and those that his followers enjoyed the most.

What lies inside this collection is an artist on display who encompasses so much more about music than just genre classification. Yes, fans of folk, new age, jazz, blues, roots, and any other subject header will find many moments of pleasure amongst these 15 tracks, but the presentation as a whole speaks more to the soul of the artist. Fahey’s collection is nothing more than a guitarist and his instrument communicating stories of love, passion, humor and despair with flesh and blood; wood and wire. It is music at its most basic, yet most complicated.

The album, as all good reissues should, includes three unreleased tracks from 1991, which are nicely incorporated throughout the entire collection. These include the lead track, “Twilight on Prince George’s Avenue,” “Slingo Mud” and “Tuff.” Other recordings of note include “Oneonta,” “Frisco Leaving Birmingham” and the thirteen minute piece entitled “The Fahey Sampler.”

The reissue contains excellent and insightful liner notes by Henry Kaiser, including a reprint of a letter that Fahey wrote to Fantasy Records with regards to how they should handle his catalogue (this alone is almost worth the price of purchase). What also make this a collection of note is the sense and feeling that those who were involved put a lot of thought, care and love into its conception. This is more than just a reconfiguration to make money—it is a salute to a dearly departed friend and master musician.

Track Listing: 1. Twilight on Prince George's Avenue * 2. frisco Leaving Birmingham 3. Slingo Mud * 4. Orinda-Moraga 5. On the Beach of Waikiki 6. Oneonta 7. Dance of Death 8. The Assassination of Stephan Grossman 9. Tuff * 10. Ann Arbor / Death By Reputation 11. Medley: Hark the Herald Angels Sing / O Come All Ye Faithful 12. The Approaching of the Disco Void 13. Steamboat Gwine 'Round De Bend 14. The Fahey Sampler 15. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence * - previously unreleased track

Personnel: John Fahey - guitar; Henry Kaiser - Collection Producer and liner notes

Title: The Best of John Fahey, volume 2, 1964-1983 | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Takoma


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