John Fahey – Popular Songs Of Christmas & New Year’s: Guitar Instrumentals
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz || Folk, Holiday
1983 Varrick || Includes insert from Rounder
Less hauntingly beautiful as his initial Christmas LP, this is still plenty enjoyable. Heck, by 1983, Fahey had released enough Xmas records that I quite literally can’t keep track, especially since at least one (or possibly two) got repackaged with different covers. Anyway, check this out if you liked any of the others.
Some subsequent issues of this record have second guitarist (and producer) Terry Robb with a ‘co-billing’ credit on the front cover. I think that was very generous of Fahey, perhaps a gesture to a protege — I don’t know squat about Robb, never even heard of him, but this appears to be his first album credit. He’s not playing on all the tracks and this seems very much like Fahey’s ballgame.
The song choices here are lovely and, like all things Fahey, a bit quirky. Some are familiar as the background soundtrack of anybody who ventures out of their home in the month of December: the schmaltzy, roasted chestnuts of ‘Winter Wonderland’ or the corny ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ are nestled in their beds alongside ancient carols like The Holly And The Ivy. It’s Bing Crosby rubbing frosty elbows with Shirley Collins; Hollywood gloss meets Middle Ages austerity. There are also some truly lovely waltzes that I don’t really associate with Christmas per se but maybe because I’m just not familiar with them: “The Skater’s Waltz” and “The Waltz You Saved For Me”, dare I say they are the ‘deep cuts’ of this record? All in all, this is a record that will be pleasing to those who enjoy Christmas music no matter what it is, as well as staying interesting enough to edify guitar aficionados or the Fahey obsessed. It’s good as either innocuous background music for sitting around the Christmas tree, or for sitting and giving it all of your attention.
One curious footnote about this album is that is sounds to me like it has a digital reverb with a profile very much like the early Yamaha units. The REV 1 had only just been put on the market. It was top of the line and very pricey for its time, and possibly would have been out of reach for Fahey’s own Takoma Records, but by this time he was recording under the auspices of Varrick, an imprint of Rounder, who were known for their high quality recordings.
A1 Jolly Old Saint Nicholas 1:45
A2 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 2:53
A3 The Skater’s Waltz 3:52
A4 The Christmas Song 2:18
A5.1 Christmas Time’s A-Coming
A5.2 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
A6.1 The Holly And The Ivy
A6.2 The Cherry Tree Carol
A7 Apple Blossom Time 1:30
A8 White Christmas 1:34
B1.1 Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
B1.2 Winter Wonderland
B2 Remember 2:00
B3 Christmas Time Is Here 1:15
B4 Do You Hear What I Hear 2:23
B5 I’ll Be Home For Christmas 1:53
B6 The Waltz You Saved For Me 3:16
B7.1 Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly
B7.2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Rounder Records Corp.
Recorded At – High Tech Recorders
Mastered At – Masterdisk
Pressed By – Wakefield Manufacturing – 42020
Design – Susan Marsh
Engineer – Jack Barr
Guitar – John Fahey, Terry Robb
Mastered By – Glenn Berger
Producer – Terry Robb