Music » CD Reviews

Various Artists

I Am the Resurrection -- A Tribute to John Fahey (Vanguard)

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John Fahey (1939-2001) was and remains one of America's finest -- if not the finest -- acoustic guitarists ever. His style, which he called American Primitive, was an inspired, quirky amalgam of Delta blues, ragtime, hymns, early country music, and early 20th-century pop, with occasional overtones of Indian raga. Fahey's influence extends to the more eclectic in indie rock, such as Jim O'Rourke, as well as the hepcats populating this tribute collection.

Resurrection is a worthy, heartfelt homage, with a just-right balance of liberty and reverence. Nearly every track is aces, with highlights including the rockabilly-tinged take on "Dance of Death" by Calexico, M.Ward's Scott Joplin-goes-psychedelic "Bean Vine Blues #2," and Sufjan Stevens' transformation of "Commemorative Transformation & Communion at Magruder Park" into an idyllic mini-symphony that would sound at home on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Also turning in fascinating interpretations of Fahey compositions are Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, Cul de Sac (which recorded an album with Fahey), and Grandaddy. The disc concludes with a genial solo piano version of "My Grandfather's Clock" by Giant Sand's Howe Gelb, an elegant coda to a virtually flawless gem.

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