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The ultimate influence

Return Of The Repressed: The Anthology
Return Of The Repressed: The Anthology
By John Fahey

Rhino Records: 1994

Buy it on CD now from

This review first appeared in the January 6, 1995 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Guitar master John Fahey practically invented the tradition of solo acoustic folk guitar. Since then, Leo Kottke has helped popularize the style, and Windham Hill and other New Age outlets have capitalized on it, but Fahey remains the originator and one of the music's most compelling practitioners.

Fahey took the finger picking of bluegrass and Piedmont blues, and spplied it to both Woody Guthrie-style folk and more ornate and technically challenging material, usually self-penned. His influences came from all over the musical mpa, from avant-garde classical to Latin to jazz. (Fahey is equally famous for his song titles, with unique classics like "The Approaching of the Disco Void" or "The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith California".)

This new two-disc anthology of Fahey's best work traces his career from his early self-recorded releases on his own Takoma label in the early 1960s through his recordings for Vanguard and Reprise during the counterculture years, when he was briefly thought hip by the mainstream, through his return to his own Takoma label in the 1970s to his most recent recordings for Rounder in the late '80s and early '90s.

The constancy of his unparalleled virtuosity on acoustic guitar is equalled by the continuance of his open mind to new ways of constructing songs. It is a remarkable journey chronicled here, and any serious fan of acoustic guitar who doesn't already have Fahey's recordings should have this set.