Monday, 31 December 2007

Red Cross

I've been listening to John Fahey a lot over the last year or so. And rounding out my collection; the collapse of the dollar has meant that it is now quite realistic to buy from the USA without paying the earth. I've picked up several of the earliest pressings, although not, sadly, that first 1959 Blind Joe Death...

But I certainly don't buy just for the sake of collecting; and several Fahey albums have been more or less permanent fixtures on my turntable. Red Cross met a divided response on release and that response would probably have been considerably more negative had it not turned out to be his last recording. But there is some wonderful playing on it, surely the best of his late period with the electric guitar; he does seem to have finally allied his 'American Primitive' music to the spare stark style that was in part necessitated by his declining health.

If I were to have to pick a single track it would have to be 'Summertime'. Sometimes a song has become such a standard that you despair of ever hearing a fresh version, but this one certainly is. You wonder at first if it's going to be the aural equivalent of that Turner Prize piece '24-hour Psycho'. But despite it's absolute minimalism there's that wonderful hint of syncopation that marks so much of John's reworking of the familiar.

Given the seasonal time of year, it would be remiss not to mention the Christmas albums, and to simply say that my favourite is the first, 'The New Possibility'.