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The Best of John Fahey 1959-1977 (Remastered)

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Album Review

The title of this compilation is a little misleading. Although it is indeed an anthology, and the most recent two tracks were recorded in 1977, nothing was recorded as early as 1959. In fact, nothing was recorded before the mid-'60s. If you believe the track notes, nothing was recorded before 1967, though it should be pointed out that the two tracks from The Dance of Death & Other Plantation Favorites, given a recording date of 1967 on this CD, are given a recording date of 1964 on Takoma's reissue of that very album. Anyway, although this is fine music, as a survey it's not exactly balanced, with the 15 tracks on the original LP coming from just five albums, though John Fahey had released more than a dozen LPs by the time of this collection. So it's essentially the best, as determined and selected by Fahey himself, from these albums: Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes, The Legend of Blind Joe Death, The Dance of Death & Other Plantation Favorites, and John Fahey/Peter Lang/Leo Kottke. That is, with the addition of two pieces ("Spanish Two-Step" and a re-recording of "Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain," originally cut for the 1963 version of Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes) that Fahey cut specifically for this best-of compilation. Rhino's two-CD Return of the Repressed: The John Fahey Anthology is a wider-spanning, lengthier chronological overview that's preferable for those wanting a fuller appreciation of his work. But what's here is good, important acoustic guitar music combining folk, blues, Americana, and unclassifiably weird originality, although it gives short shrift to some of his odder, more experimental 1960s and 1970s work (some of which, admittedly, was done for other labels than Takoma, from whose vaults all of the tracks were accessed). The 2002 CD reissue does have its nice extras: three bonus tracks (including two from the early 1970s, "America" and the 23-minute "Fare Forward Voyagers," taken from albums not sampled in the original track listing) and appreciations in the liner notes from Leo Kottke, Henry Kaiser, Peter Lang, Jim O'Rourke, and (yes!) George Winston.

Customer Reviews

This Man is My Hero

This man has made me as a guitar player, to say the least. The way he flows through his songs smoothly is amazing. I also owe much of my guitar style to him as well. This music is very relaxing for me with deep bass and continuos beat. His songs are casual, but very powerful, and I always get a specific feeling out of each one even though they are simple. This is amazing music in its purest form: one person, one instrument.


If your questioning whether or not to buy this it! You won't regret it!!

The Best of John Fahey 1959-1977

When I discovered fingerstyle guitar in the late 70's one of the first books that I came upon was a companion book to this record. I've learned most of the songs and they continue to be among my most favorite to play. Listening to this music is like seeing into the mind of a true master. None of these songs are particularly difficult to play but to hear them played and played well is an astonishing experience. This is how solo guitar should be played. I recommend this record with no reservations.


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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