Mar 19, 2010

Joseph Spence. The Complete Folkways Recordings.

Joseph Spence played the guitar and sang. Sort of. He rarely seemed to know the words to the traditional gospel and folk standards that made up his repertoire, so he growled and grunted with an infectious, gravelly dirt road of a voice. His vocals bob like a fisherman’s floater, dipping and popping in the surf; sometimes leading the guitar, sometimes just harmonizing with it. He sings like a man constantly swept up in joy—his lyrics more laughter than words.

He was the master of one of the most idiosyncratic and inventive guitar styles ever put to tape. Tuning his guitar to his own eccentric standards and picking out counterpoints and rhythmic shifts that wowed and baffled professional musicians, he earned comparisons to improvisational masters like Thelonious Monk. No one has ever been able to replicate or equal him, and whatever it was he was doing, he did it with immense heart.

The effect is delightful and ebullient. It’s simply insane how good he is. You can’t feel bad while listening to him.


Joseph Spence on myspace

1 Blurt:

Bob O'Link said...

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy life to share your words of encouragement and music with others. And just for the record, I prefer my calamari fried.