Wednesday, September 16, 2009

John Fahey (The last of 78rpm Blues)


John Fahey
"Double 78-RPM record"
(Perfect, 1996)

Some of the first recording made by Fahey upon his return to music in the mid-90s.

"It was while he was at Harvard, with vague plans of finding a career of music law and returning to Austin, that Dean Blackwood made the fateful Fahey connection.

A dedicated and passionate music fan with a penchant for eclectic esoterica, Blackwood was struck by a "where are they now?" feature on Fahey in a 1994 issue of Spin. Written by Byron Coley, the expansive profile said that the influential guitarist was living in an Oregon flophouse and scrounging through used record bins for discoveries he could sell to collectors, after succumbing to an alcoholism that had put his performing career on the rocks.

Blackwood was then working part-time at the Boston office of Sub Pop Records (in the midst of its Nirvana windfall), while devoting some of his side energies to the production of 78 r.p.m, records. Though CDs were threatening to make turntables obsolete, and the 78 had long been eclipsed by 45 and 33 as turntable options, Blackwood was fascinated by this anachronistic art object that had all but disappeared in the '50s.

"I'm not an anti-CD person; I think they're wonderfully convenient and a great storage medium," he said. "But as far as having a nice, dense slab, a physical object to hold in your hands, there's nothing like 78s."

Blackwood got Fahey's phone number from Coley, in order to ask if the guitarist might be interested in recording a 78 for Blackwood's Perfect label, one that could pass as a relic from the medium's heyday. Fahey felt an affinity for the commercial absurdity of the project. "He was always up for something that has a little prankster element to it," said Blackwood.

Scott Colburn:
"So I get a call from Fahey's soon-to-be manager Dean Blackwood. He asks me if I would go to Salem, Oregon, and record John Fahey in his hotel room. My first question is "Who is John Fahey?" After I get the low down, I decided that he was a legend and it would be in my best interest to do it. Besides, I always dreamed about those Folkways recordings that were done in hotel rooms. Now was my chance. I rent a car and travel down there to record for about 2 hours. Damn, this guy is good and he doesn't mind that I want to record experimentally, by moving one of the mics around the room hand held. From this session, the disc was born. Sorry, the hand held recordings are in the archive."

A Morning pt.1
B Morning pt.2
C Evening, Not Night pt.1
D Evening, Not Night pt.2

Very Rare.