Jack Rose Dr Ragtime & Pals/Self Titled Review

Released 2008.  

BBC Review

He remains a bafflingly word-of-mouth proposition.

Chris Jones 2008

It remains a mystery as to why the name of Jack Rose hasn't spread further afield in this country. Rose has been slowly but surely forging a reputation as one of the USA's foremost revivalists of what used to be known as 'American Primitive'. ie: he deals in the same open-tuned acoustic folk blues that the legendary John Fahey and the Revenant label made famous in the '60s and '70s. Despite being featured by Fiona Talkington on Radio 3's Late Junction nearly four years ago he remains a bafflingly word-of-mouth proposition. Hopefully this latest double from Rose will change all that.

Most of Rose's output (Raag Manifestos, Two Originals Of...) since leaving the drone rockers, Pelt, has been entirely solo. But here, on the first disc, 'Dr Ragtime...' he joins forces with ex bandmembers (Mike Gangloff) as well as another disciple of Fahey's, Glenn Jones of Cul De Sac, to whoop it up a treat. Jaunty rags and jugband blues complete with rattling washboards and tootling harmonicas grace this manifestation of old time goodness.

While it's never less than entertaining, the real heart of Rose (as with Fahey) is in the darker primitive drones and raags that he coaxes out of his twelve string. It's this material that makes up the second disc: 'Self Titled'. A reissue of material previously only available on the vinyl Archive label, this is the stuff that works its way into your soul, dredging up some kind of collective memory of shacks, rural hardship and spiritual brutalism.

On tracks such a Levee or Spirits In The House, he conjurs up a bleak yet incredibly satisfying blend of psychedelic folk and deep blues. It's as though the open-tuned resonances vibrate something deep within you. And never once do you feel the need to question the specious notion of how 'authentically' a young white man can raise such ghosts. Heady stuff...

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