John Fahey - Days Have Gone By

John Fahey
Days Have Gone By

Released 1967 on Takoma
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 20/07/2000ce

Guitarist John Fahey is one of the GIANTS of American music and this album "Days Have Gone By" is his unqualified masterpiece! Those unfamiliar with the man are urged to get a hold of a 2 CD set on Rhino called "Return of the Repressed" which is a good place to start to know the great man's music, it is in fact a stunning overview of John's career.
I'm not sure if this album "Days Have Gone By" is available at the moment but in case it isn't pay whatever you have to and get a hold of this record ASAP. This is the sound of REAL AMERICA not the plastic dry wank most people abroad think of this country.
John Fahey plays music that is hard to pigeonhole so let's just say he uses country blues as a jumping off point most notably Blind Willie Johnson and Robert Johnson. But I'll be damned if John doesn't play some of the most psychedelic music it's ever been my pleasure to hear, he uses tons of echo and space in his compositions as well as very haunting sound effects and background noises. This music really breathes and has incredible atmosphere.
Side 1 opens with a simple country blues called "Revolt of the Dyke Brigade" that brings to mind Sandy Bull (who is perhaps John's spiritual second cousin). "Impressions of Susan" is another good timey country blues that shifts into a psychedelic drone-out in the mid section before returning to the familiar main theme. "Joe Kirby Blues" contains some nicely strummed chords and spacey finger picking. "Night Train to Valhalla" is just that, an aggressively played psychedelic tour de force . You're on the Night Train to Valhalla and there is no turning back.
Next in line is one of John's greatest pieces which also carries one of his greatest song titles "The Portland Cement Company at Monolith Calif." here John plays some mind numbing psychedelic solos on his acoustic that sound like they were studied by every San Francisco freak guitarist. Check out Jorma Kaukonen's "Embryonic Journey" recorded with Jefferson Airplane for a reference point.
Side one closes with my all time favorite John Fahey track "A Raga called Pat Part 1" which carries over to side 2 and is concluded in grand style at the start of the second side. This two part song is a psychedelic skullfuck of the highest order. The piece begins with a lonesome freight train whistle in the background as John warms up playing some dazzling blissed out trance phrases. This song reminds me of that Munsters episode where Herman and the family Munster are traveling by train to the hip vacation spot called "Buffalo Valley" Herman gets off the train in a ghost town called "Indian Flats" to buy a magazine and the train splits without him leaving him pissed off to the max! Shades of the old TV western "Death Valley Days".
Side 2 begins with the conclusion of "A Raga Called Pat" this section begins with the now familiar train whistle, then adds some thunderstorm sound effects and some bird calls that are not of this world, I think that I also hear a rooster crowing in the background. At one point John's guitar is pushed to the back of the mix and the sound effects take over the piece. This is a staggering piece of music that makes me want to jump on the next freight train to Kansas City"!!!
The greatness just keeps on coming with "My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs". This piece of music is so beautiful and inspiring it's beyond words, let's just say that if you're not hooked by now please leave the country at once. "My Grandfather's Clock" is a short and happy toe-tapper that will have you reaching for a pitcher of lemonade and heading for front porch America.
The title track "Days Have Gone By" sounds like it's from a Syd Barrett bootleg complete with background studio chatter and false starts, Oh did I mention that it's fucking incredible!!!.The record ends on a somber note with "We Would Be Building" a slow spiritual piece from the backwoods of Mississippi. Then this life changing record is over leaving you hanging in the balance and wanting more.
This record is a complete classic, there is not one wasted second of music. The only drawback to playing "Days Have Gone By" is that everything else in my collection pales in comparson for a few days afterwards. I recently put this record on tape and went for a drive in Northeastern Connecticut in search of old abandoned mills and rusty freight train cars and believe me I was feeling no pain!!

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