Over the past 35 years, Jad Fair has managed to never lose his utter believability. That’s no small feat. Some call him a primitive, an intuitive, or an outsider, but none of those terms really matter, nor do they reveal what a varied sensibility he possesses. His constant quest to stay engaged, to encounter the new and unexpected, to be surprised, those are all the hallmarks of a true artist.
The discography of Jad Fair is a sprawling marvel. He first appeared on records with the band he formed with his brother David in the mid-’70s, Half Japanese. There have been other bands and collaborations with the likes of Yo La Tengo, R. Stevie Moore and Daniel Johnston. He has sung about love and monsters with equal conviction. He has created sonic landscapes that revel in beauty or terror. Beautiful Songs collects 109 songs on three discs. With some thousand tracks to choose from, anyone following Jad’s output is bound to find that something they favor has been left off, but this set serves as both a perfect introduction to newcomers and fine tour through a staggeringly enormous body of work as compiled by Jad himself.
Over the course of some 50 albums, Fair has come up with enduring classics that adhere to rock & roll’s primal heart. Case in point, these fine lyrics: “I comb my hair with my hand, five fingers baby, I’m your lovin’ man.” That comes right out of a bucket drawn from the deep well where rock & roll was first discovered.