Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

John Fahey: City of Refuge [Tim/Kerr, 1997]
"My category is alternative, period," avers the last intelligent person to make such a claim in this millennium. He doesn't want to be folk or New Age, and who can blame him? But if he were, some rich dunderhead might insist that he treat blues and pop rarities to his dolorously deliberate touch, like on those old Reprise albums Byron Coley sneers at. Instead he's encouraged to stagger toward an obscure destination mere mortals would noodle around, dumbfounding bystanders with the scraps of sound that flake off his beard as he goes. Once in a while tunes poke through the refuse, notably that of "Chelsey Silver, PleaseCall Home." These occasion proud huzzahs from young fools who can only forgive themselves such emoluments after a good cleansing scourge of spare solo indirection. Their self-disgust is our loss and Fahey's ticket to wankdom. Even the meandering Cul de Sac get more out of him. C+