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Originally released in either 1968 or 1969 depending on your sources, The Yellow Princess saw a post-philosophy degree, subculture-aware Fahey branching out from his earlier, more traditional work. He earned his name back in 1959 at the age of 20, with his Blind Joe Death debut album. Following that album Fahey engaged in a wide stylistic range, from Appalachian-style fingerpicking to delta blues, but this album and its partner Requia, both for the Vanguard label, took Fahey to places for which, as it turned out, his audience was unprepared. Their lukewarm reception drove Fahey to follow the albums with a Christmas album, of all things.
In recent years – and thankfully prior to his passing – Fahey became a frequent touchstone, an inspiration remarked on by independent musicians such as Six Organs' Ben Chasny and Cul de Sac's Glenn Jones (the latter's band released a noteworthy collaborative album with Fahey). And with the current trendiness of acoustic folk in the underground, The Yellow Princess is a welcome reminder of the possibilities open to a true visionary; not to mention Fahey's remarkable technical abilities.
The title track is what the original liner notes called a "stabilized improvisation" on a passage from "The Yellow Princess Overture," by Camille Saint-Saens. Fast finger-picked acoustic guitar, it's a five-minute tour de force, a complex composition wedded to traditionally more primitive Americana-style playing. It amply demonstrates Fahey's ability to take a form of playing and extend it into new territories, through both his unique creative vision and his superb guitar technique.