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The New Possibility: John Fahey's Guitar Soli Christmas Album / Christmas With John Fahey, Vol. 2

John Fahey

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Album Review

It probably surprised a few people that guitar eccentric John Fahey chose to record Christmas music. This release comprises the majority of not one but two Christmas releases from 1968 and 1975. Most of the instrumentals on both albums will be familiar, such as "White Christmas," "The First Noel," and "What Child Is This?" On The New Possibility: John Fahey's Guitar Soli Christmas Album, Fahey plays alone, using unusual harmonics and open tunings to turn in pleasant versions of classic Christmas songs. This is a relaxed album, with a pleasing version of "We Three Kings of Orient Are" and a nice fingerpicking adaptation of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Fantasy." The music from the second album, Christmas with John Fahey, Vol. 2 includes several duets with guitarist Richard Ruskin, giving this music a fuller sound and offering a nice contrast to the first album. "Oh Holy Night" presents an abundance of textures, as light and airy as the season, but more resonant due to the continuous melody line. While the material from both albums is satisfying, the later album gathers more depth and presence by the addition of Ruskin's unique but complementary guitar work. The instrumentals on the second album are also more eclectic, as with the "Russian Christmas Overture" and the 12-minute "Christmas Fantasy, Pt. 2." On this tune, Fahey uses a more eccentric approach, creating the type of Christmas music a fan would expect from him. This instrumental contains more dissonance and improvising than the other material, but nonetheless retains a seasonal air. This is a fine collection of holiday guitar music. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Biography

Born: February 28, 1939 in Takoma Park, MD

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of acoustic music's true innovators and eccentrics, John Fahey was a crucial figure in expanding the boundaries of the acoustic guitar over the last few decades. His music was so eclectic that it's arguable whether he should be defined as a "folk" artist. In a career that saw him issue several dozen albums, he drew from blues, Native American music, Indian ragas, experimental dissonance, and pop. His good friend Dr. Demento has noted that Fahey "was the first to demonstrate that the finger-picking...
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