I’ve written extensively about the utterly unique, stupendous, and dumbfounding music of Joseph Spence. So I won’t write much this time, but if you haven’t heard his music, go and read my other posts on him, and then forget all the words and just listen, because the music really has to be heard to be believed. Actually, hearing it, you still probably won’t believe all those sounds are coming from just one man and his guitar.
As one Amazon customer wrote:
The music is absolutely insane. It has no equal. Old Joseph Spence, god bless him, was like Sun Ra with an acoustic guitar. Even the grouchiest customers would leave with a wild gleeful smile on their faces.
Waxed for Elektra in 1964, this has better sound than the Folkways recordings and offers some of Spence’s most percussive playing.
mp3 160kbps | w/ cover | 46mb
Few musicians have as unique a sound as Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence. Sounding a bit like an old Delta bluesman swept out to sea, Spence grunts and groans his way through his mostly religious song catalog like Howlin’ Wolf crossed with Popeye, all the while picking out amazing polyrhythmic patterns on his acoustic guitar in a style that is so idiosyncratic that he has actually been called a folk version of Thelonious Monk. A true folk artist, Spence made few allowances for the commercial music world, and his body of work is as singular as any ever recorded. This collection of spiritual material was recorded in the field by Guy Droussart in Nassau, and it is typical of Spence’s performances, alternating solo pieces with tracks where he is joined by Edith, Geneva and Raymond Pinder, and while the sound can be a bit unnerving to the novice listener, a closer examination reveals a wonderful deconstruction and reassembling of these hymns, all laced with Spence’s eccentric, jagged guitar runs. Highlights include “Jordan Chilly River,” “Down by the Riverside,” and “Out on the Rolling Sea,” although everything here is of a piece, cut from the same wonderful cloth.
big thanks to Op for the albums.
and in case you haven’t been over to Times Ain’t Like They Used to Be, you’ll find some more Spence there too.