Acoustic steel-string guitar maverick John Fahey was an iconoclast, visionary, legend and an innovative composer. He’s frequently lumped into the folk genre and misunderstood. Fahey influenced many avant, alternative and indie-rockers, including current or former members of Sonic Youth, Giant Sand and the Plimsouls, among others.

The most enlightening tracks reinterpret rather than mimic. Sufjan Stevens uplifts and lays bare Fahey’s spirituality during “Variation on ‘Commemorative Transfiguration & Communion at Magruder Park.’” Calexico fleshes out “Dance of Death,” incorporating Southwest themes, Delta blues and Eastern drone. Cul de Sac’s live take of “The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, CA” is propelled by noisy dissonance.



However, Currituck Co.’s medley is a lukewarm, Grateful Dead-like jam. Lee Ranaldo’s reinvention of “The Singing Bridge of Memphis, Tennessee” is uninspiring. And Howe Gelb’s piano solo rendition of “My Grandfather’s Clock” weakly winds down this Fahey homage. Yet, more often than not, Fahey’s imagination and talent radiates, and that’s the point.



Grade: A