We have previously released two compilations featuring Robbie Basho’s recordings for Takoma – “Guitar Soli” and “Bashovia”. This month we turn our attention to the first of the two albums he made for Vanguard Records. “The Voice Of The Eagle” marked the peak of his immersion in Native American culture and history, starting with the seven-minute title track’s “piece of Hopi pageantry, a Hopi raga”, as he called it in his cover notes.
“I don’t call a lot of my stuff far out,” Basho explained. “I just call it a different level of feeling. It’s far in, as far as I’m concerned...I spent years on the road singing folk songs that had no meaning. It dawned on me music is supposed to say something. Music is supposed to do something.”
This is a Basho vocal album – his singing, which John Fahey described as “strangely compelling”, came straight from the heart and soul with no regard for restraint, phrasing or timing. Thankfully, he was blessed with a mercurial tone and bottomless well of power, able to let loose with often ecstatic abandon.
Robbie Basho never had mass recognition when he was alive and was almost forgotten for years as Fahey, Leo Kottke and his contemporaries carved their legends. Now this previously overlooked gem stands as a snapshot of this unfettered talent at his most expansive peak. Or as he put it, “I decided to see how high and beautiful I could go, but then you leave the masses behind.”
By Kris Needs