Joseph Spence: I'm Going to Live That Life


I'm Going To Live That Life


Joseph Spence (guitar, vocals)


The Complete Folkways Recordings: 1958 (Smithsonian Folkways 40066)

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Joseph Spence (guitar, vocals).

Traditional, arranged by Joseph Spence


Recorded: Fresh Creek Settlement, Andros, Bahamas, July 23, 1958


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Joseph Spence had been playing the guitar for more than 30 years when researcher Samuel Charters stumbled upon him. "When you go out into a new part of the world with a tape recorder to look for music," Charters has written, "you always dream that someday you might find a new performer who will be so unique and so exciting that their music will have an effect on anybody who hears it." Charters' encounter with Joseph Spence was one of those rare moments. This artist is a true one-of-a-kind. Spence played with an unconventional tuning and a willy-nilly technique of his own invention. His recordings sound deceptively simple, but guitarists struggle to get the feeling just right when trying to imitate his style. Spence keeps melody, harmony and rhythm moving along with a boisterous energy, and his "singing"—more an exhortation than a conventional vocal—adds to the celebratory tone. This is the record to start with if you want to know how music sounds when all the commercial angles and marketing decisions are removed, and song is reduced (or "elevated" might be the better word) to a pure and perfect expression of the human spirit.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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