February 23, 2016

John Fahey - Andy Kershaw Session 1987 (BBC)

St. Patrick
Spanish Two-Step
On the Sunny Side of the Ocean
Dance of Death
Supposedly, Richard Thompson, the great English acoustic-electric guitarist and singer-songwriter, a Fahey fan himself, was so appalled at what he perceived to be Fahey's sloppiness in this set that he phoned Andy Kershaw and asked to record an acoustic set for the programme to make up for it, in some karmic way. Richard was probably unaware of Fahey's various health problems, which by 1987 were beginning to affect his guitar playing. from: JohnFahey.com

I would not characterize this as a poor effort. There are a few bum notes but it sounds lively and the production is excellent.

The 1980 Fahey release "Yes! Jesus Loves Me" finds Fahey giving a previously recorded hymn a make over. Saint Patrick's Hymn from Transfiguration is given to a more bluesy interpretation and doubled in length. Great piece now called simply, St. Patrick

This appears to be the only live recording Dance of Death. I find this live version of the song important for a couple reasons. First, and this may sound silly, but I feel rather awed to hear Fahey playing this live, I guess because I have always thought that this was one crazy sounding piece of music. As though I have subconsciously been suspicious that Fahey was using some sort of studio trickery to play this song. The tuning, the dissonance, the meter all combine to make it sound as if one man couldn't really play it all by himself.

This download is an edit of the radio show, the DJ has been removed and Nightmare/Summertime is missing but the quality is excellent.

The edit of John Fahey on the BBC

UPDATE: When I wrote this post I knew it was missing a song: Nightmare/Summertime. I had the post all written up before I discovered it. Then I spent a fair time searching for it to no avail. By the time I posted this, I had forgotten to mention it.
Fortunately, Joe over at the John Fahey blog noticed it and did something about it!! I must say that is a much better version than the sad one presented on the studio release. Thanks to Joe and Stephen!  The radio show version is not as high quality as the other source but has other advantages noted above.  I would get both!!

Download the radio show


  1. Hello and thanks for uploading this show! I only have this on an old cd-r taken from a cassette, your version sounds much better!
    However, mine has the narration and one more song:"Nigtmare/Summertime"! Can you please check your files, maybe you will find that song too and upload it in fine quality?
    Greetings from a Rank Stranger

  2. Thanks for this. Really great quality. I'd been on the verge of putting some of these up on my own blog but can't begin to compete with this.

    Cheers, Stephen

  3. Thanks for the comments.
    I really do wish that I had the missing song. I can't take any credit for this other than finding it on the net. I snagged this from a torrent site and they didn't include the missing track.

  4. thanks for making this and the other stuff available

  5. Wow, no music file has ever made my laptop sing like these tracks do! This stuff drives right through you. A master at work.

  6. After listening to these files, it seems really odd that Richard Thompson complained about this set. I liked the whole thing and certainly did not find John's playing sloppy, perhaps a little slower than I have heard but sounds great.

  7. I find these recordings STARTLING. The playing is full of vitality and spontaneity and glorious imperfections. This is not sloppiness. That came later. Thank you Scott Moore for sharing these; I'd never heard them. Charlie Schmidt

  8. What drugs was Richard Thompson on when he complained about the quality of John's playing on that night? The sound quality, the power, the authority is magnificent. I love the improvisational slant he gives to each familiar tune and I swear he never played a better version of Spanish Two Step in his life. Wonderful stuff.

  9. how kind of you
    and thank you very much for this download
    all the very best
    and my sincere and kind regards to you too

  10. Richard Thompson? Not even fit to clean the crushed skulls and entrails from Fahey's guitar strings.

  11. Thank you much for this set. Eagerly anticipating the listen.

  12. I appreciate very much you digging out this whole show. Excellent quality and as you said, this version of Dance of Death, albeit shorter, is full of surprises!