Death Chants: the 1967 recordings.

When Fahey re-recorded his first two albums in 1967 it was because of dissatisfaction with various aspects of the recording quality with the earlier versions rather than any intention to release them in stereo, although the commercial realities of the record market meant that stereo mixes were made the following year.

One does not have to be a purist to recognise the inadequacies of the stereo versions with their absurdly exaggerated separation; on headphones they sound less like one exceptional guitar player than two decent ones engaged in some bizarre guitar playing equivalent of synchronised swimming. Possibly intentionally, they mock the audiophile pretensions of the record buyer only prepared to buy 'stereo'.

Those 1967 mono versions were of course withdrawn after scarcely a year, and have never been available since. Given that they sound so considerably superior to the stereo mixes, it is disappointing that Fantasy didn't elect to use the mono masters when they put out their CD reissue. It was not for nothing that those 1967 records had stickers boasting that they had been recorded in 'Magnificent Mono', so here are those 1967 mono recordings for Death Chants.

Note: The titles 'Spanish Dance' and 'Take a Look at That Baby' had their respective tunes swapped between the 1963 and 1967 releases. I have left the titles (and music) here as they appear on the record in the interests of historical truth; you can of course reverse the titles (and maybe the sequence) if you prefer. As with the later 1968 cover, the sleeve reverses the sides for the listings, and omits 'Take a Look at That Baby' entirely.


Lena said...

Just hearing at with a big smile. Thank You!


Anonymous said...


Love your site.

Love the mono. Love it; simply love it.

Anonymous said...


Thanks a million for those -- never heard them in mono before.


Peter said...

Thanks a lot Stephen - really good to hear - one guitar (even Fahey) = mono.

ejg said...

thanks for posting the mono mix

adam said...

Thanks for all your work here.

Especially for the DANCE OF DEATH outtakes. That being maybe my favorite Fahey album, I listen to those outtakes quite a lot!

Also, the articles contained here.

...and today the mono Death Chants.
I made my own artificial "collapsed stereo" version of Death Chants from the Fantasy CD. Now I can hear a natural mono.

Listening to the '67 portion of that disc on headphones is a terrible experience!

Craig said...

Wow. Thank you so much for this. I've just stumbled on you blog via the Fahey Guitar Players forum, and will certainly be returning again and again. As an Art Director, your section on the evolution of the Tacoma record labels alone was worth the price of admission; and then to have access to these recordings... Did I say, "wow"?

Stephen said...

I'm glad people have enjoyed these, and thanks for the more general appreciation of the blog.

I hope to be following up on this post by getting the mono '67 Blind Joe Death up in the next week or two

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mono stuff, will you also post BJD on mono??
There's at least one person waiting!

Stephen said...

I'm sorry to say that my intended posting of the mono BJD has been delayed; I have a copy somewhere but can't locate it. Thought I'd turned it up but then found that it was the '64 version, so patience please. I'll try and get the mono Requia too as and when I can.

Apologies anyway; as and when I'm able it will get put up.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog. I've just recently gotten into John Fahey so finding everything that's out there is fantastic!

Oddy said...

Love the mono!

Any chance of listing the tracks in order, the only reason i mention it is that they download in alphabetical, and I'm not sure if they're in the same order as the stereo version. With Fahey, you never know.


Stephen said...

Oddy, I should have made sure the files had track numbers listed, as I did with BJD. The tracks are in exactly the same sequence as on the 1968 US vinyl issue, although I didn't post the two tracks brought forward from the 1963 recording which remain commercially available in the original mono on CD.

Two tunes got 'swapped' on these later recordings, it is the 1963 vinyl that is correct.

The full track listing for the album (as it appears on the vinyl) was as follows-

Side 1:
Sunflower River Blues
Stomping Tonight
Some Summer Day
On the Beach
Spanish Dance

Side 2:
John Henry
Downfall ('63 version)
Take A Look
Dance of the Inhabitants ('63 version)
Episcopal Hymn

Oddy said...

Stephen, I have ben meaning to write and thank you for some time, I do indeed have the Ace/Takoma CD with the singular varsions of The Downfall Of The Adelphi Rolling Grist Mill and Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Palace Of King Philip XIV Of Spain, so I have the complete listing.

I often forget the madness of wading through Fahey's reissue programs.
I have interviewed people who worked with Takoma of Fahey over the years, and no doubt that for the most part, they admired him, if not his way of handling the Takoma catalogue.
Too much to go into here, but not really relevant as I never fully explored the topic, as Fahey was not my main point of interest in the interviews, etc.

I'd never condsider myself much of a Fahey historian, I'm more of a country-bluegrass, and rock music orientated historical writer.

However, Fahey remains an interesting character and a very rewarding musical artist to explore, so thankyou for all your help.

I hope all is well and you are on the road to recovery, as I'm share many others here feel and have said, all the best, you have my well wishes.


Jason 'Oddy' Odd