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Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes

Album: Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes
# Song Title   Time
1)    Sunflower River Blues
2)    When the Springtime Comes Again
3)    Stomping Tonight on the Pennsylvania-Alabama Border
4)    Some Summer Day
5)    On the Beach Waikiki
6)    Spanish Dance
7)    John Henry Variations
8)    Downfall of the Adelphi Rolling Grist Mill, The - (flute)
9)    Take a Look at That Baby
10)    Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Philip XIV
11)    America
12)    Episcopal Hymn
13)    Sunflower River Blues
14)    When the Springtime Comes Again
15)    Stomping Tonight on the Pennsylvania-Alabama Border
16)    Some Summer Day
17)    On the Beach Waikiki
18)    Spanish Dance
19)    John Henry Variations
20)    Take a Look at That Baby
21)    America
22)    Episcopal Hymn
Product Details
Performer Notes
  • This reissue contains both the 1963 and re-recorded 1967 editions of DEATH CHANTS, BREAKDOWNS & MILITARY WALTZES.
  • Personnel: John Fahey (acoustic guitar); Nancy McClean (flute).
  • Tracks 1-12 originally released in 1963 on Takoma (1003). Tracks 13-22 originally released in 1967 on Takoma (1003). Includes liner notes by Byron Coley and Chester C. Petranick (John Fahey).
  • Digitally remastered by Kirk Felton (1998, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
  • Tracks 1-12 are in mono.
  • Personnel: John Fahey (guitar); Nancy McLean (flute).
  • Recording information: 1963.
  • Fahey recorded two entirely different versions of this record: one issued in 1963 and one mostly of re-recordings in 1967. The CD reissue of Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes does Fahey fans a massive favor by combining both versions onto one disc. Preceded only by the super-rare original version of Blind Joe Death, the 1963 LP of Death Chants was the first Fahey album to gain reasonably wide distribution. It's a work that beautifully displays both Fahey's virtuosity on folk and blues guitar and a distinct composing voice that draws much from folk and blues traditions, but is not quite part of either school. Fahey's gift for making music that's tranquil and evocative, but also with enough odd angularity and minor melody to give it depth and ambiguity, is evident right from the start, and heard to best advantage on "When the Springtime Comes Again," "Some Summer Day," and the epic "America." Even on the pieces with more straight blues connections, Fahey achieves a full and reverberant quality that sets it off not just from the average country blues revivalists of the period, but from vintage country blues itself. He takes a journey into the avant-garde with "The Downfall of the Adelphi Rolling Grist Mill," a creepy duet with flute player Nancy McLean. On the re-recorded versions that comprised most of the 1967 version of Death Chants, the fidelity is clearer, and having improved his technique Fahey probably felt more satisfied with these renditions. But as often happens on remakes, it must be said that the originals have an intangibly more affecting, more mysterious quality that does not come through as strongly on the more carefully executed rehauls. ~ Richie Unterberger
Professional Reviews
Dirty Linen (4-5/99, p.68) - "...Fahey blends traditional foot-stomping blues picking with precise and elegant explorations....as blissfully trippy as anything could have been back in 1963."
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