Sam Charters first recorded Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence on Andros Island in July 1958. Spence, long out of work as a stonemason, had used his time to perfect a unique style of playing. Charters took Spence as a model for what he wanted to hear in other Bahamian guitarists. Originally issued in 1959 as Folkways 3844 and part of Folkways 3847.
When a 47-year-old stonemason living in the Bahamas met with writer Sam Charters and his tape recorder, he couldn't have known the history he would make. These field recordings have since inspired, shaped, and boggled a generation of acoustic guitarists. You can hear Spence's intricate and polyrhythmic percussive style in players as diverse as Ry Cooder and Leo Kottke. Although only nine tracks long, this CD is seminal folk blues, and includes Spence's improvisational, almost Cubist, reworkings of traditional, mostly spiritual, tunes: "Brown Skin Gal," "Face to Face I Shall Know Him," "Lord Is My Shepherd," "When I Lay My Burden Down," and what might be called his signature tune "Comin' in on a Wing and a Prayer." --Roy Francis Kasten