I Am the Ressurection Compilation
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I Am The Resurrection : A Tribute To John Fahey contains 13 reworkings by such artists as Calexico, Devendra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens, Cul De Sac, Grandaddy and M. Ward (who is producing the entire project). Vanguard. 2006.
An idiosyncratic folk favorite and a huge influence on acoustic guitarists, the reclusive John Fahey reemerged as an unlikely inspiration on a younger generation of indie underground rockers during the years before his death in 2001. The result is this freewheeling, wide-ranging tribute that is much more concerned with capturing his unpredictable spirit than mummifying a musical form. Sonic Youth's Lee Renaldo makes his interpretation a noise collage of electric guitar, traffic sounds, and spoken word. Sufjan Stevens melds a propulsive intro to a stripped-down, harmony-laden hymn. Coproducer M. Ward plays barbed-wire electric guitar, while Giant Sand's Howe Gelb interprets Fahey on solo piano that is part barrelhouse, part music box. Only Peter Case's gorgeous rendition of "When the Catfish Is in Bloom" could be confused with one of the "American primitive guitar" master's own recordings, but everything here has its own internal logic. Fahey devotees, old and new, will love the tribute--a collection that should inspire fans of these artists to seek out the source. --Don McLeese
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I was tentative about my purchase because it is a tribute album. Most tribute albums typically contain one pearl in a bowlful of cacca. I was hoping that this was the exception.
But 'I Am The Resurrection' turns out to be a great tribute to the John Fahey gestalt---that beautiful fingerpicking guitar style, the immense span of his musical dabblings, the fascinating and imperfect person he was.
Fahey has always been the broccoli of American guitar music. Nutritious and good for you, but plainly not to everyone's liking. It took a lot of guts for these musicians to get their creative arms around such an esoteric task. I imagine it was also one heckuva `gas' to creatively tackle it. I salute the artists who contributed to this work, as well as M Ward and Steve Brower whose vision produced it.
I initially expected to hear tracks of imitative playing style, the artist taking a Fahey recording and playing it as faithfully as John would. Those who try succeed:
Devendra Banhart on *Sligo River Blues* performs a classic paean to classic Fahey.
Cul De Sac boldly does *Portland Cement Factory.* My expectations here were high-- these guys actually played with Fahey for a while and they picked a tough tune to do. The only way to improve on it would be to turn down the volume on the cement factory noise just a bit.
When the Catfish Is in Bloom*, a song from Fahey's Vanguard years, in Peter Case's playing style almost sounds like The Master. But Case stays unique and non-copying. Good song choice and faithful execution; the upbeat tempo an improvement on the original.
I recommend this disc to you because of the following artists who took the tribute one step further, avoiding imitation and adding their own twist to a Fahey tune to `out-Fahey' Fahey doing Fahey.
My favorite is the *Dance of Death* by Calexico. They take an inventive approach to the arrangement, respectful to Fahey's compositional vision. It's jazzy, foot tapping, cool, and complex. I think I'm gonna check out more music by Calexico.
*Sunflower River Blues* by Pelt These guys capture the essence of Fahey's blues vision---A simple melody played well, and played tightly, in the true rural American style. I particularly like the guitar--Fahey's instrument of choice-- taking a melodic backseat, as rhythm to the lead banjo. Curious, this tune is totally unlike any of their usual 'industrial-ambient' music.
*Bean Vine Blues #2* is a quick, blues cachaphony by M. Ward. His twist is to whip it out full-tilt on an electric guitar! All tribute songs should be as good.
*Joe Kirby Blues* by Immergluck, Kaphan, Krummenacher and Hanes. A good memorial amplified, and eerily done at a slower tempo than even Fahey would try. I love the `rocky' guitar solo toward the end. Not too shabby for a group that sounds like a Dutch accounting firm.
*Medley: John Hurt Shiva Shankarah* -- Currituck Co. Nice synthesis of guitar and percussion, well-executed, and played with the Ravi Shankar-like reverence that Fahey would show when playing spiritual music. Jaya Shiva Shankarah is one of MY favorite JF tunes, from *Old Fashioned Love*, a disc that nobody seemed to like (or buy) but me. I'm goin' to check these guys out, too.
*Death of the Clayton Peacock*, one of Fahey's more esoteric compositions this side of the Wall of Sonic Angst. Although the Fruit Bats' version sounds like background music from a Quentin Tarrentino movie, I gotta give them points for the tune's degree of difficulty.
One last thing. Like Fahey's own playing, this disc sounds better and better each time I play it.
Cul de Sac, who actually played with John on an album (the recording of which was clearly traumatic for leader Glen Jones and which strained John's peculiar notion of patience)do an admirable job with "Portland Cement Factory", mainly by cranking up the noise level some, which I believe will gratify John, wherever he may be. Late in the game John was looking for noises - sounds - which helped define the spirit of place in which the music was set (listen to his "City of Refuge" album for the approximation of the B&O railroad snowplow sound of our youth - John's and mine - to get a feel for what this means to his later music).
Nothing here is bad, much of it is quite good, and it is clearly friends and admirers who have done what they felt was appropriate, whether it be attempted note-for-note reproduction (Sligo River Blues) or simply a personal translation (Calexico's turn on "Dance of Death", a piece that deserves a special place in American music outside the soundtrack of "Zabriske Point") and gets to become a standard here. Where John was composing for something he believed to be onerous and evil (the title can be misleading, but the story behind it is abundantly clear), Calexico has taken this personal horror story and turned it into something one can recognize yet listen to without one's teeth being set on edge, which was how John was feeling at the time he laid it down.
I could go on, but there are many excellent reviews here by others equally familiar with John's work, and so I'll leave it at this: I hate tribute albums, but I bought this one, and I love it. I also love the cover art, and feel the title was absolutely inspired. I knew I was going to like this in spite of myself, when at first sighting I felt a lump in my throat. This is a remarkable album and a work of love.
Not me personally, although if I believed in an afterlife, I'd say John Fahey is somewhere smiling about this. I Am The Resurrection: A Tribute to John Fahey is one of the best tribute albums I've heard, insofar as it captures the spirit of the original artist without being merely imitative. This beautifully put together album features M Ward and Stephen Brower as executive producers and a wide range of artists (M Ward himself, Sufjan Stevens, Howe Gelb, Lee Ranaldo, Calexico, Cul de Sac and more). The gorgeous cover art by John King, the wizard who does the art for M Ward's albums, made me grab it off the counter before I even knew what CD it was.