Dusted Reviews

Henry Taussig - Fate is Only Once

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Henry Taussig

Album: Fate is Only Once

Label: Tompkins Square

Review date: Aug. 27, 2006

The current level of interest in all things related to John Fahey has produced a wave of great and not-so-great Takoma acolytes — most notably Jack Rose — but so far it hasn’t led many labels to repackage hard-to-find recordings by some of Fahey’s lesser-known contemporaries. Thankfully, the tide seems to be turning with this reissue from Tompkins Square Records. Their first Imaginational Anthem compilation featured tracks by new and old fingerpickers, including one tune called “Dorian Sonata” by the heretofore-obscure Harry Taussig. It was one of the highlights of the disc, and now the label has remastered and reissued Fate Is Only Once, the artist’s private press LP from 1965. 

Taussig had a couple of pieces on Takoma’s Contemporary Guitar: Spring ’67 compilation and wrote a number of instructional guitar books, but apparently this was his only full-length album. Like Fahey, he seems to have been heavily influenced by Elizabeth Cotten’s playing style. He covers (and mistitles) her wonderful “Honey Babe Your Papa Cares For You” and his version of the traditional “R.R. Bill & Co.” is an unmistakable homage. The original liner notes, reprinted in the CD booklet, also cite Mance Lipscomb, Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, and the Rev. Gary Davis as inspirations. Taussig’s guitar playing is slightly looser than Fahey’s, but the minor imperfections and mistakes actually give the songs a lot of character and personality. 

It wouldn’t be completely unfair to describe Fate Is Only Once as a minor album. But while it doesn’t ever reach the heights of Fahey’s classic Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death, it’s still a very enjoyable record. Maybe I’m alone in having a limitless appetite for this type of music, but I sure hope a few more labels are gearing up to bring other rare solo guitar albums to a wider audience. As much as I’ve enjoyed new stuff like James Blackshaw’s O True Believers, I find myself coming back to older things like this and the fantastic Mark Fosson CD on Drag City far more often.

By Rob Hatch-Miller

Read More

View all articles by Rob Hatch-Miller

Find out more about Tompkins Square

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.