Harry Taussig

Fate Is Only Once

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Harry Taussig's sole, rare album of acoustic guitar instrumentals, issued as a privately pressed LP in 1965, cannot fail to invite comparisons to John Fahey (as well as to other guitarists of the era who've been compared to Fahey, like Robbie Basho). There's a similar deft mixture of folk and blues influences, as well as a rich resonance to the strings and a meditative sobriety that sets it apart from more derivative '60s folk revivalists. Perhaps Taussig is slightly more audibly indebted to traditional folk and blues styles than Fahey, with a heavier trace of ragtime; not coincidentally, he covers songs by Reverend Gary Davis and Elizabeth Cotten, two African-American artists who also drew from both folk and blues. Though the more conventional pieces are satisfying, the standouts are "Dorian Sonata" and "Fate Is Only Once," six-minute tracks where the slightly dark undercurrents of Americana are amplified, though with a dignified grace that avoids ponderousness. Long unknown even to devotees of American acoustic guitarists, the album was reissued on CD in 2006.

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