John Fahey

Vanguard Visionaries

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Though John Fahey cut only three records for Vanguard between 1966 and 1969 (he cut a slew for his own Takoma label as well) , some of his most adventurous -- and some would say maddening -- work is here. Vanguard Visionaries compiles ten cuts from the latter two of these LPs, 1967's Requia & Other Compositions for Guitar Solo, and 1969's Yellow Princess. From the former, some listeners will be either gratified or horrified to know that all four parts of "Requiem for Molly" -- a 20-minute composition for acoustic guitar and electronic tape montage with the manipulation of found sounds -- is here, as is the beautiful and moving "Requiem for John Hurt." The other five cuts from Yellow Princess, represent Fahey's "American Primitive" trademark guitar style, full of its mode and stylistic changes all though repetition and rhythmic shifts. These cuts, serve, as well as any, the mannerisms of Fahey's playing on his earlier Takoma recordings. That said, he is forever unpredictable, no matter how often one hears these songs. His playing is simply the element of imagination and surprise itself. While it's true that "Requiem for Milly," may be off-putting for those looking for a real introduction to Fahey, this is his earliest experimentation with the electronic sounds he explored a great deal more in his later career, and stands as a singular moment in his catalog.

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