What do Larry Coryell, Oregon, Sandy Bull, John Fahey, and Mimi & Richard Farina all have in common? Aside from playing stringed instruments and sharing a certain "eclecticism," not an enormous amount. They did all record for Vanguard Records between 1963 and 1996, the time span covered by this anthology, though. So this 68-minute, 18-song compilation -- which also has tracks by the more obscure Peter Walker and John McEuen -- is really an excuse to gather some instrumental odds and ends from the Vanguard catalog together. The premise is slight, and even the title is kind of a faux pas in that just one of the numbers (Coryell's "You Don't Know What Love Is") is completely electric. This doesn't mean, however, that it's not a decent disc for what it is; indeed, as instrumental mood music albums go, it's definitely up there. Devoted fans of the specific artists are better off investing in their proper albums, but for those who just want a taster, there are three Appalachian-flavored instrumentals by the Farinas from their mid-1960s albums; laid-back jazz guitar virtuosity from Coryell; uncategorizable folk-jazz-ethnic exercises by the innovative Bull; just one cut by Fahey, 1968's "Dance of the Inhabitants of the Invisible City of Bladensburg," an unusual one for him in that it has some full electric band instrumentation; and raga-based 1966 drone-folk from Walker's little-known 1966 album Rainy Day Raga. You'll have to really stretch your ears to recognize Walker's version of "Norwegian Wood" as a Beatles cover without looking at the track listing first. There are no previously unreleased items, but Bull's "Non Nobis Domine" and Coryell's "Ann Arbor" make their CD debuts here.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger