Review by David Bowling
John Fahey, 1934-2001, was a master of the steel string acoustic guitar. While he was grounded in blues/folk traditions; his unique style of picking the strings contained classical elements. Today he is many times a forgotten musician but in 2003 Rolling Stone ranked him at number 35 on their list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time.
He released a number of Christmas albums during the course of his career. Now selections from Guitar Soli Christmas Album (1968), Christmas With John Fahey Vol. II (1975), Christmas Guitar Volume One (1982), and Popular Songs Of Christmas and New Year’s, with fellow guitarist Terry Robb (1983) have been taken to form the a new compilation album titled Christmas Soli.
He had one of the most recognizable guitar styles of his era. Each note is distinct as it connects to the next. He released a number of Christmas albums and whether these are the best 14 tracks or not can be debated but they do fit together well.
His versions of “We Three Kings Of Orient Are,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “O Holy Night,” and “Joy To The World” are stunning in their solo simplicity. I prefer him alone but his duets with Terry Robb on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Deck The Halls/We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and “The Christmas Song” show a different side of his career.
Christmas Soli is a very different Christmas album. It is music for a quiet evening around the fire place. Fahey has been gone for over a decade but his music lives on. A worthwhile addition to any Christmas collection.