The Voice of the Turtle

Unreleased, circa 1967:

The 1968 Release:

Circa 1970:

Circa 1972:

Circa 1973:

Circa 1975:

Many of you will know that this album originally came in two different versions - one has 11 tracks, the other 12 with a considerable number of differences. Contrary to widespread belief the original release has the black & silver label shown here, which is found in both versions. Only one of these appears on the CD reissue. The existence of the second version isn't even mentioned in the CD's notes, and that CD needs a complete overhaul both with quality and content. So if you only have the CD or a post-1973 pressing of the album you probably won't have heard these tracks, recorded off the original 1968 LP shown here; click on the links below to get the mp3 downloads:

Bottleneck Blues - edited version to that on later album and CD

Bean Vine Blues - a completely different song; Joe Bussard Jnr. & Fahey.

A Raga Called Pat, Part III - a different mix, and considerably longer than the CD version.

A Raga Called Pat, Part IV - a different mix.

Train (shown on the label as 'The Little Train That Couldn't') - again, a completely different song, this is an outtake from the 'Transfiguration' sessions, with Fahey, L Mayne Smith and Mark Levine.

And here are four outtakes from the album: ....Lo How A Rose .... Kuolema .... Leaving Home .... Texas & Pacific Blues

The International Fahey Committee have a lot of really interesting stuff to say about this album. Sadly, at the time of posting this there are a few significant inaccuracies there too; for a detailed look at the complex history of the album you should read my 'Mystery of the Turtle' post.

(A note to the Concord Music Group: Please sort the 'Turtle' CD. These tracks and the others should be on it too, and you could master the whole thing rather better than Fantasy managed while you're about it.)


malcolm kirton said...


Do I understand you right, the first (1968) version has 11 songs and the later revision has 12?

This fits with my own 2 copies, which have both label styles, though oddly the book insert is missing from the first but present in the later one.
Do you know anything about alleged variations in the cover graphics?

Stephen said...


It was the IFC notes on this album that finally prompted me to start this site, because I took a rather different view to the one expressed there. And as I say here, I am intending to give VOTT a second post, giving a somewhat lengthier exposition, but to summarise my position, I don't think that there is an absolute 1st version and then a revision. I am very confident indeed that the masters for both the 11 and the 12 track versions were cut at the same mastering session, and that there was occasional rotation of the masters used. Why that was done is in the end a matter of conjecture, but I'm very confident that it was a deliberate decision rather than being any sort of accident.
My 1968 pressing, like yours, has the gatefold sleeve but no book. I have had it from new and it was one of the first batch manufactured; quite a few of them lacked the book which was not glued in on those early copies; it was the cause of a lot of complaints! I presume that it was a problem for the manufacturers too, fitting such a large book inside the sleeve for shrink-wrapping, as they soon switched to gluing it in. Takoma certainly had to provide a lot of replacements for the ones that had been sold without the book in the first place.
When the single sleeve replaced the gatefold in the late 70s, the panel on the front cover promising the book inside was replaced with a second copy of the turtle picture, with the turtle's eye changed to give it a different expression. It is said that there is more than one variant of that second turtle's eye although frankly I doubt it. The single pocket sleeve is a very rare beast indeed, and commands a considerable premium over the gatefold with the book.

malcolm kirton said...

Many thanks for that very informative posting. It would make sense if both of the masters were made at the same time and the evidence fits. It certainly looks like the matrix numbers are in the same hand. How interesting -- I've never seen a copy of the single sleeve but I think it might have been issued in the UK by another company as such. Anyone know about that.

A tentative attribution for the 2 versions of Bean Vine, from the DoD discography:
version #1 -- Fahey & Joe Bussard (vcl), April 13, 1962 as 'Pea Vine Blue'.
version #2 -- Fahey & Bill Barth (guitar duet), April 13, 1964, 'Maggie Campbell Blues'.

'Nine Pound Hammer' is probably 'Take This Hammer', from the 4/13/62 Fonotone session, with Fahey singing. According to the VOT notes both it and 'Bean Vine' are from 'Fonotone test pressings'

The other pieces taken from 78s have been identified in the Fahey Files.

Stephen said...

The single sleeve version of Voice of the Turtle was (pre-Chrysalis) US Takoma; the record within was identical to the one that came with the final gatefolds. VOTT has never been released in the UK. It was a common commercial decision to switch gatefolds to single sleeves when sales slowed, something by no means unique to Takoma.

My part-written (at this point) 'Mystery of the Turtle' post addresses the question of the sleeves in some depth (maybe too much depth!). I'm not going to say any more at this point, or I'll be left with nothing to say in that post.

Stephen said...

It is now clear that it was the eye of the main turtle that was changed, circa 1975 when new printing plates were made up (the sleeve was being manufactured differently). I've posted about this on 'The Mystery of the Turtle'.

Anonymous said...

Hello Stephen,
I'm a bit confused.
VOT with the first black label unreleased?
I'm holding a copy in my hands. With original turtle eye, black stripe sleeve, incl. The Fahey picture album and 11 tracks.
I read everything here, but still I didn't get the complete picture. Can you help?

PS: You did a wonderful job here.