The title The Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favorites might lead some to believe that this is a collection of public-domain items that go back to the Deep South of the 19th century. However, while this 1964 session does contain a song titled "Dance of Death," most of the material (including that tune) was written by Fahey himself in the early '60s. So an intriguing title is simply that: an intriguing title. Nonetheless, Fahey's music does have strong southern roots. Unaccompanied, the acoustic guitarist/instrumentalist demonstrates his love of African-American blues as well as the Anglo-American country, folk, and hillbilly music of Appalachia.
Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around in a car with two friends. When challenged to a drag, the women accept, but are forced off of a bridge. It appears that all are drowned, until Mary, quite some time later, amazingly emerges from the river. After recovering, Mary accepts a job in a new town as a church organist, only to be dogged by a mysterious phantom figure that seems to reside in an old run-down pavilion. It is here that Mary must confront the personal demons of her spiritual insouciance.
"I’ve been wanting to record these tunes for a long time. They’ve been in my mind for years and I didn’t even dare to think that one day I’d be able to record them. The memories connected with this music have stayed with me. Like on a film, the images of the people I grew up with and of my parents changed in front of my eyes. I inherited this music from them. Each of these tunes has got its own story. I recorded them for my own pleasure, but then I thought why not let other people have them? Why not give them some pleasure as well? A lot of these people have now grown old and, like me, have dreamed of hearing this music recorded and preserved for future generations." Ivo Papasov
To say that Iron Maiden's Book of Souls was ardently anticipated would be a vast understatement. Though it was (mostly) finished in 2014, vocalist Bruce Dickinson's cancer diagnosis and treatment delayed its release until he was medically cleared. While 2006's A Matter Of Life And Death and 2010's The Final Frontier showcased longer songs, Book of Souls is epic by comparison. Their first double album, it's 92 minutes long, and three of its 11 tracks are over ten minutes. Steve Harris contributed one solo composition, and co-wrote six tracks with various bandmates. Dickinson – for the first time since Powerslave – wrote two solo tunes, the album's bookends, and collaborated on two more. The music is cleanly divided between the two discs. The first is tight; it offers a bit of everything that makes Iron Maiden…well, Iron Maiden.