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Album Review

Few musicians have as unique a sound as Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence. Sounding a bit like an old Delta bluesman swept out to sea, Spence grunts and groans his way through his mostly religious song catalog like Howlin' Wolf crossed with Popeye, all the while picking out amazing polyrhythmic patterns on his acoustic guitar in a style that is so idiosyncratic that he has actually been called a folk version of Thelonious Monk. A true folk artist, Spence made few allowances for the commercial music world, and his body of work is as singular as any ever recorded. This collection of spiritual material was recorded in the field by Guy Droussart in Nassau, and it is typical of Spence's performances, alternating solo pieces with tracks where he is joined by Edith, Geneva and Raymond Pinder, and while the sound can be a bit unnerving to the novice listener, a closer examination reveals a wonderful deconstruction and reassembling of these hymns, all laced with Spence's eccentric, jagged guitar runs. Highlights include "Jordan Chilly River," "Down by the Riverside," and "Out on the Rolling Sea," although everything here is of a piece, cut from the same wonderful cloth.

Biography

Born: August, 1910 in Andros, Bahama

Genre: Blues

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

Born on the island of Andrus in the Bahamas, Spence created an idiosyncratic (and inimitable) guitar style rife with percussive and improvisatory vamps around staid hymns and such "square" standards as "Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer." He was a folk guitarist's Thelonious Monk, and his growling vocal counterpoint...
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Glory, Joseph Spence
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