Freak so unique

Oct 5, 2005 at 12:00 am

John Fahey – Yellow Princess (Vanguard, 1969), America (Takoma, 1971): The pioneering progressive folk guitarist has had an unquestioned influence on the contemporary freak folk scene, in particular the exploratory guitar work of Ben Chasny.

Vashti Bunyan – Just Another Diamond Day (Dicristina Star, 1970): She was a tree faerie Nico, or maybe the female Nick Drake. Bucolic British folk with a hushed, melancholic air; the confessions of a washerwoman

Donovan — Barabajagal (Epic, 1969): Lusty, organic ruminations on the fairer sex from the Scottish duke of psychedelic folk. Contains the classic “I Love My Shirt.”

Meat Puppets — II (SST, 1983): You know them as Kurt Cobain’s favorite band. The Puppets’ second album is a scraggly punk masterpiece infused with rootsy darkness and looming fatalism.

Bob Dylan — Blonde on Blonde (Columbia, 1966): Dylan’s absurdist lyrical journey through trashy rock ’n’ roll, brilliant balladry and incredibly cool song titles like “Absolutely Sweet Marie” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.”

Pentangle — Basket of Light (Edsel, 1969): British combo whose dramatic, virtuosic folk-rock conjures images of Dr. Who and the Wickerman. While often beautiful, their music is also exceedingly creepy. You’ve been warned.

Buffy Saint-Marie — Illuminations (Vanguard, 1969): Speaking of creepy. Saint-Marie’s harrowing, many-tongued vocals and its tonal, occasionally synthesized, and always forward-looking arrangements mark Illuminations as a classic in experimental folk.

No Neck Blues Band — Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones But Names Will Never Hurt Me (Revenant, 2001): A contemporary classic issued through Fahey’s personal label. Twisting rhythms, random noises, and fractured jangles add up to a record that envelopes you in its grasp.

Sun City Girls — Torch of the Mystics (Majorca, 1990): A haunting and freaky lullaby wrapped in Middle Eastern mantras and clanging, fractured rock ’n’ roll. Gets in your head and stays there, murmuring.

Van Morrison — Astral Weeks (Warner Bros, 1968): Captivating, uplifting work from Van the Man. “Beside You” is what morning dew sounds like; Astral Weeks is some kind of organic masterwork.

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