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John Fahey & His Orchestra/John Fahey: Of Rivers & Religion/After the Ball

Album Notes

This German Warner Bros. reissue is a nice repackaging of the late John Fahey's 1972 album Of Rivers & Religion and his wonderfully genteel 1973 release After the Ball from his all too brief sojourn with the label. These recordings represent a shift for Fahey, playing both solo and with an ensemble. On Of Rivers & Religion, the ensemble included many of the New Orleans players who performed on Walt Disney's Song of the South film soundtrack. Gorgeous, slow, ringing slide and fingerplucked tones establish easy themes before the band enters with clarinets, banjos, and trumpets. After the Ball was a more up-tempo affair steeped in the Delta blues and in wildly varying New Orleans and bluegrass music. There is some fine Piedmont playing on the disc, as well, on "Horses." There are a number of stylistic collisions here, where Delta blues meets ragtime on "Om Shanthi Norris" and slide guitar meets the 19th-century ballad on the title track that closes the album. Taken together, these two albums represent a radically underappreciated yet fiery and fertile period for the guitarist. Both albums are available here for a better price than they are individually and they feature dynamically remastered sound and great liner notes by Sid Griffin. ~ Thom Jurek



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