Requia (subtitled and other compositions for guitar solo) is the eighth album by American fingerstyle guitarist and composer John Fahey. Released in November 1967, it was the first of Fahey's two releases on the Vanguard label.
After six releases on his own label Takoma Records and one on Riverboat Records, Fahey signed a two-album contract with Vanguard Records, best known for its catalogue of recordings by a number of pivotal folk and blues artists from the 1960s. His manager at the time, Denny Bruce, recalled that "His deal was that he could record for Takoma 'experimental records,' but to try and make commercial recordings for Vanguard, with their approval of the budget."
After beginning with three solo guitar pieces, the four-part "Requiem for Molly" begins with solo guitar interspersed and accompanied by white noise, excerpts of both string and brass orchestras, Adolf Hitler speeches, choral music, scratchy 78-rpm recordings and various other tape loops and sound effects. The melody found in Part 4 is "California Dreaming", a recent Top 40 hit for The Mamas & the Papas. A short hymn-like song, "Fight on Christians, Fight On", based on "Christians, Fight On, Your Time Ain’t Long" by Bo Weavil Jackson, played on bottleneck guitar concludes the recording.
Fahey stated "["Requiem for Molly, Pt. 1-4"] was my first attempt at musique concrète, but it's not very good and I don't really like that one. It was a good learning experience though."
"Requiem for John Hurt" refers to influential country blues singer and guitarist Mississippi John Hurt. Fahey recalled "He was in his quiet way, a very great man, and I deeply mourn our loss of him. So, I wrote this requiem for him, about him, but I play it the way Charley Patton would have played it, had he ever thought of such a thing, which of course he never would have."
In his original liner notes, Fahey wrote "Since 1948, after seeing the movie, The Thief of Bagdad, I composed cerebral symphonies every day. It was a pleasant pastime. But suddenly in 1953 I needed a full orchestra at my command—me playing every instrument in that impossible ensemble." He labeled the first two songs and "Requiem for Molly" as Requia and "When the Catfish Is in Bloom" and "Fight on Christians, Fight On" as Cantica.
In his Allmusic review, critic Brian Olewnick describes the distinct differences in the two parts of Requia, calling the four solo pieces as "a series of blues-based pieces in line with music he had previously recorded" and the second section ("Requiem for Molly") as sounding "a bit dated, largely because his source material... sounds heavy-handed and trite in retrospect." Olewnick summarizes the release writing "Requia doesn't rank up with the absolute best of his releases, but contains enough fine and interesting work to recommend it to Fahey fans."
In his book Beautiful Monsters, author Michael Long referred to Fahey as a pioneer and wrote "His personal aesthetic was easily translatable to the revisionist morbid aesthetic, most notably with respect to Requia, a collection containing the four-part "Requiem for Molly," Fahey's spatiotextural experiment in sampling, looping, and musique concrète."
In a review of The Essential John Fahey in the July 3, 1974 Milwaukee Journal, Pierre-Rene Noth referred to "Requiem for Molly" as "[Fahey's] worst.. a horrid mix."
In his piece for The New York Times, Ben Ratliff called Requia "dense with eccentricity."Requia was reissued on CD in 1997 by Vanguard.
All the songs, minus the four-part "Requiem for Molly" are included in the Vanguard CD reissue of The Essential John Fahey.
Requia was reissued on CD in 1998 in the United Kingdom by Ace Records.
All the songs, minus the parts 1 and 2 of "Requiem for Molly" are included in the Vanguard release The Best of the Vanguard Years.
Requia was reissued on a vinyl LP in 2007 by Vanguard.
All songs by John Fahey.
John Fahey – guitar
Special effects by John Fahey, Sam Charters and Barry Hansen
Cover photo by Marvin Lyons
- "Requiem for John Hurt" – 5:10
- "Requiem for Russell Blaine Cooper" – 8:56
- "When the Catfish Is in Bloom" – 7:42
- "Requiem for Molly, Pt. 1" – 7:40
- "Requiem for Molly, Pt. 2" – 7:46
- "Requiem for Molly, Pt. 3" – 2:33
- "Requiem for Molly, Pt. 4" – 3:00
- "Fight on Christians, Fight On" – 1:57