John Fahey, The Legend Of Blind Joe Death
Shattering notions of what an acoustic guitar should do
Fahey pulled on disparate American strings, incorporating blues, noise and traditional folk into his acoustic visions, defining and then shattering notions of what an acoustic guitar should and shouldn't do. Fahey had been weirdly preoccupied with a self-fabricated hero, the nonexistent Blind Joe Death, repeatedly re-recording and reissuing his 1959 debut LP, a tribute to Blind Joe, with new renditions and sequencing in 1964 and 1967. This collection, released in 1996, collects nearly all the versions of this groundbreaking album in one place, and showcases Fahey's innovative guitar style, reminding contemporary listeners that Fahey understood the acoustic guitar as an entirely blank canvas. The Legend also captures Fahey's deadly grin — Fahey didn't consider his predecessors untouchable, and fought to keep the blues' usefulness alive, pilfering a variety of styles, coming up with a giggly composite and then taking a subtle shot ("Blind Joe Death" is still the very best faux-blues moniker around) at the genre's retroactively-imposed seriousness.