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I Am The Resurrection:
A Tribute to John Fahey

Review By Steven Stone
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CD Number: Vanguard Records 


  I remember seeing John Fahey at the Ashgrove folk club in Los Angeles. He was so drunk that he almost fell asleep on stage between songs. Needless to say, he made an impression, although it was more about the perils of an alcoholic lifestyle than about music. But he also had a big influence on many musicians because of his pioneering artistic style.  A Tribute to John Fahey demonstrates that a wide array of musicians is willing to try to cover John Fahey's often-idiosyncratic repertoire.

Produced by M. Ward, I Am the Resurrection: A Tribute to John Fahey includes contributions from The Fruit Bats, Pelt, Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart, Calexico, Lee Rinaldo, M. Ward, Cul de Sac, Granddaddy, Immergluck, Kaphan, Krummenacher & Hanes, Currituck Co., Howe Gelb, and Peter Case. I must admit that except for Peter Case I'd never even heard of any of these artists before. Perhaps I should get out more often. Still this collection of indie musicians haven't created a powerful tribute to one of the first and still most iconoclastic independent recording artists of the 20th century.

Picking the most outstanding selection on this anthology is akin to figuring out what color crayon you favor. Some cuts, like Devendra Banhart's "Sligo River Blues," are completely funky with a ton of tape hiss, while others such as Sufjan Stevens' "Variation on Commemorative Transfiguration and Communion at Magruder Park" have a lush, carefully produced presence. But whether loosely assembled or tightly arranged, all the selections have the refreshing feeling of sonic exploration that typified John Fahey's own original works.

In his biography the great American classical composer John Ives mentions that "ear stretching exercises" conducted by his dad had a powerful positive influence on his musical development. I Am the Resurrection: A Tribute to John Fahey can serve much the same purpose for any contemporary folk and acoustic music fan. Wild stuff; good though.




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