Mark Fosson's The Lost Takoma Sessions seemed to be the definitive statement on his earliest work upon its release in 2006, but then again, before the studio work there had to have been something around that caught John Fahey's ear to start with. Digging in the Dust: Home Recordings 1976 is just that, collecting performances of many but not all the songs that were eventually re-recorded for Takoma, along with an otherwise unavailable recording in the shape of Gene Autry's classic "Back in the Saddle Again," like everything else here done in strictly instrumental form. Given the reputation for home recordings in the 20th century as being the home of murk and sometimes intentional imperfection, the crystalline sound throughout is evidence enough that Fosson wasn't messing around with his two-track reel-to-reel. But beyond the technical evidence, it's little wonder hearing Fosson's skilled work song for song that Fahey showed an interest. If Fosson was clearly playing in a realm the older performer was not only inclined toward but to a large degree helped define -- Leo Kottke's early work being another unavoidable but understandable reference point -- there's both a sprightly passion and a clean elegance throughout the recordings here that's a treat to listen to on an almost tactile level. Hearing how he plays with melodies after having established them is a particular treat -- his twists toward the conclusion of "Back in the Saddle Again" are standouts here. Two songs come with alternate takes -- "Frozen Fingers," which sounds anything but that either way, has its key difference more in recording quality, the alternate sounding even more intimate and piercing; "Quarter Moon" has a similar division in its takes. It may seem unnecessary to explore further if one already has The Lost Takoma Sessions, but it's well worth a listen to hear such fine performances.(AMG by N. Regget)
Here's what he has to say about them: 'These 11 tracks are the songs I began writing after acquiring my first 12-string guitar. I recorded them in my living room on a Pioneer RT 1050 2-track reel-to-reel with a rented microphone (I believe it was an AK6414 but I won't swear to it). All are originals except for 'Back In The Saddle Again' which resulted from my other obsession at the time of watching old black & white Gene Autry movies any chance I could... Most of these songs would appear later in slightly altered form on The Lost Takoma Sessions, but these original versions are my personal favorites. I can't believe the tapes have survived so long and still sound as clean as the day I recorded them.'"