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Complete Folkways Recordings

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 13, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

Amazon.com

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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 13, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways
  • ASIN: B000001DJ8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,351 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Well, it has to be said firstly, that on hearing this CD I was amazed,even shocked to hear Joseph Spence.It really is like nothing else! I bought the CD to accompany the Guitar Tablature book of the same title,after hearing Ralph McTell play some of Spences work.The recording was made in 1958 and you can tell!It plays alittle like an old 78 record.It perhaps isnt the type of CD you would sit down to and relax whilst listening to it.From begining to end,Spences excentricities permiate each piece,with grunts and groans spontanious laughter and singing part of a song,and then stopping as if forgetting the words! It is however amazing how this grows on you to become very interesting listening-my 4 and 6 year old neice and nephew will testify to that! If you are an acoustic guitarist and wish to hear some outstanding guitar playing,get this CD.It has 9 pieces altogether and each one is gem.You will find them uplifting and make you wish that you were playing them!"Face to face that I shall know Him" and "Bimini girl" are my favourites plus "The Lord is my Shepard" which I can now play to some degree!Spence maximises the potential of the dropped"D" guitar tuning using the bass D to great effect.So,guitarists who want a finger twisting Challenge, or listeners who want an aural challenge I would certainly recomend this CD.Well thats it from me. Now back to my guitar to dream!
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Format: Audio CD
I've owned this album for many years on cassette, and would agree with Andrew Westhead's description of the recording. It's not easy to listen to this rough field recording with all the tape hiss, etc., but Joseph Spence's finger-picking and his live personality is so inspiring, it's worth the effort.
I'm a guitar picker who loves to play in dropped-D tunings, and I enjoy playing hymns and pop tunes in this tuning. Joseph Spence has been a major influence in this area, not only for me, but for many others. Note, for example, Ry Cooder's recordings of some of these tunes on "Jazz." That should be tribute enough for any serious guitar player to consider getting this recording.
My five-star rating is not for the quality of the recording, but for the raw energy and inspiring playing of this great guitar picker!
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By G on March 29, 2013
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I discovered Joseph Spence through Woody Mann. After previewing several cuts on Amazon I had to purchase the entire album. What a unique and interesting player. I think of him as the Blind Blake of the Bahamas.
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Format: Audio CD
Loose, happy, like a Bahamian breeze. Charming and as original as Doc Watson. Hints of calypso, but distinctly different-more churchy. Finger-picked guitar and growling, mainly. Growls and foot stomps are an integral part of the goings-on, hinting at all kinds of latent structures behind the improvisation. Includes originals from Ry Cooder's Jazz. An instant pleasure throughout. [51:22]
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