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Bringing It All Back Home 

The latest, greatest acid-folk reissues

Wednesday, Oct 25 2006
Blame it all — the preponderance of acoustic guitars, unicorns, and beards in current popular culture — on Devendra Banhart. Of course, without the hirsute freak folker and his enduring influence, we'd also be without the recent parade of unbelievably grand, thoroughly obscure acid-folk reissues. Already we've seen the rediscovery of Vashti Bunyan's bucolic-pop masterpiece Just a Diamond Day, Gary Higgins' smoked-out soft-rockin' Red Hash, and Bridget St. John's first three Nico-meets-Joni discs. So who will the hipsters flock to next? Well, it doesn't get much more underground than Sibylle Baier's Colour Green, a collection of stark tunes that the German woman recorded during the early '70s, and which stayed unreleased until Elf Power's Orange Twin Records put them out recently. If Cat Power emulating Leonard Cohen isn't your bag, check out Bill Fay's 1970 LP, Time of the Last Persecution (Eclectic), which sounds like the Band on really strong drugs (i.e., dark, thorny lyrics and equally thorny guitar solos). Both Nick Cave and Banhart admit longtime fascinations with Karen Dalton in the liner notes to the resplendent reissue of 1971's In My Own Time (due in November on Light in the Attic Records). The Native American blues singer was the folk version of Billie Holiday long before Jolie Holland was, with a voice that could make statues cry. Bert Jansch is one of the most influential British guitarists ever — lauded by the likes of Neil Young and Jimmy Page — and yet he's almost unknown Stateside. That may change with his new Drag City release, The Black Swan, which includes guest spots by Beth Orton, Otto Hauser (Vetiver), and Banhart (of course). Swan is a better roots record than the last three Dylan releases combined, featuring Jansch's cool, expressive baritone and intricate guitar playing, which draws on blues, jazz, folk, and world music. (Plus, he didn't steal any of the lyrics.) Keep it up, Devendra, please.

About The Author

Dan Strachota


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