Harry Taussig: Fate Is Only Once (2008)
Taussig's style is nimble and precise without the "how can he do that?" reaction that comes from listening to Leo Kottke or John Fahey. None of these songs are written by Taussig; rather, they are adaptations of folk tunes and popular songs of days of yore. Most of them succeed splendidly. The Gary Davis tunes that kick off the CD are textbook finger-picking, and songs like "Dark Town Strutter's Ball" take the songs in directions the composers likely never intended. "Sugar Babe, Your Papa Cares for You" is a fantastic song played on the 12-string that is about as Fahey-like as a player can get.
Taussig stumbles a bit on the second half. "Dorian Sonata" is a meandering exploration of that mode which doesn't seem completely developed, and the downright awful title track begins with the wince-inducing beginning of playing all the open strings in standard tuning (an amateur's trick), and never develops into anything remotely interesting after that.
Despite all this, Fate Is Only Once is a great listen that recreates a style of music rarely heard today. Taussig never recorded again after this, which makes this record all the more special. Wherever he may be, he can rest assured that he took advantage of an opportunity to record a gem.
Track Listing: Baby Let Me Lay It On You/That'll Neever Happen No More; Blues For Zone VII; Dark Town Strutter's Ball; R.R. Bill & Co.; Rev's Rag; Sugar Babe, Your Papa Cares For You; National Ragtime Stomp; Rondo To Death; Monte's Blues; Dorian Sonata; St. Louis Trickle; Fate Is Only Once.
Personnel: Harry Taussig: guitar.
Record Label: Tompkins Square
Style: Beyond Jazz