Davy Graham with Alexis Korner – 34 A.D. (1962)

OriginalFrontCover1Davy Graham’s debut EP was released in 1962, consisting of three acoustic guitar instrumentals. The first of these, “Angie” (written when he was only 19), is the one tune that Graham is best remembered for to this day, and with it he is often credited as single-handedly inventing the idea of the folk guitar instrumental (though John Fahey was doing something similar in America at the time). The legacy of this one song is vast, as it inspired a whole generation of acoustic guitarists (it was covered by Bert Jansch, Paul Simon and many others).

The title track “3/4 AD” was a duet with Alexis Korner, also on guitar, who helped discover Graham and organize this first recording. Korner also wrote the sleeve notes which praised Graham highly and called him “a genuinely gifted guitarist who rightly refuses to let himself be fenced into one field of music.” Stylistically, the EP could be comfortably called folk music, but there are strong shades of blues, jazz, and perhaps more in his playing. Indeed Graham never felt he had to be confined to one genre, and with his later releases he explored well outside the boundaries of folk music. Even from this early release it is obvious that he had to be one of the best acoustic guitarists of his age… and this was just the beginning! (by stuckinthepast,blogspot)

Alexis KornerExperiment, per se, has only a limited value. What is of importance is the confirmation of an emotionally valid step forward in music. Musicians or singers have to be fiercely aware of the ‘rightness’ in their music in order to make it last. They may appear to be reticent or shy but, in their private selves, they must be sure.

Most good performers are, to a large extent, self-centred. They do not have to be rude, arrogant or offhand – neither do they have to be bland and ingratiating. They may be incredibly weak in many respects, but they are firm in their music. These statements apply to both Davy and me.

Davy Graham is just over 21. He is a genuinely gifted guitarist who rightly, refuses to let himself be fenced into one field of music. The great traditional folk banjo and guitar pickers have influenced his playing. Josh White, who can hardly be fitted into this category, has also exerted considerable influence. But then, so have the great modern jazz players. The fierce belief of good Gospel groups, the great blues singers, all have influenced him as have the Baroque composers.

At times he has wanted to take up other instruments because he wanted the extra sound. Fortunately, he has always been too lazy to do anything about it, with the result that he has been forced to make these sounds on guitar. So something new emerges. He gets a chance to work out his ideas at Nick’s diner, in Fulham, where he works several nights a week. He has also played the streets of Paris and had it rough – and, in his way, he has had it good, with a crowd of worshipful fans sitting at his feet. What he has learned is that, to keep his music alive, he needs to play in front of audiences; he needs to communicate.

His approach to a tune seems to be basically through the tune itself. Both ‘Angi’ – Baroque or Modern Jazz Quartet influenced – and his ‘Train Blues’ – a piece of pure rhythmic impressionism – testify to this. This approach is probably why Davy is best as a soloist. Yet one of Davy’s most telling performances is in our duet, 3/4 A.D. (The title is derived from the time signature and our respective initials). Inspired by Miles Davis’ ‘Kind Of Blue’ and Charles Mingus’ ‘Better Git It In Your Soul’, with a definite bow towards Jimmy Giuffre in the second theme, it is simply the Blues. It is not folk, it is not jazz; it is just music the way we feel it when we are playing together.

Davy Graham

There is a lovely swoop at the beginning of Davy’s opening solo. It is completely Davy, playing you will notice, harmonies rather than single-note lines, sinuous but expansive. Then a complete change in the next chorus. That is me. A hammering, shouting gospel approach which I could never get rid of, even if I wanted to. In the second theme, the solo work is all Davy.

The solo voice, treble first, then bass, in the last two choruses, is by me. It is just the way it happened to work out. We certainly would not play it exactly the same way again; it was an experiment which we may never repeat. It was however an experiment which we ‘know’ was right. (taken from the original liner-notes, written by Alxis Korner)

The recording was made by Bill Leader at his home, ‘North Villas’ London in April 1961.Released in April 1962

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Personnel:
Davy Graham (guitar)
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Alexis Korner (guitar on 03.)

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Tracklist:
01. Angi (Graham) 2.29
02. Davy’s Train Blues (Graham) 3.03
03. 3/4 A.D. (Korner/Graham) 4.40

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Davy Graham – Large As Life And Twice As Natural (1968)

FrontCover1With the exception of 1964’s Folk, Blues & Beyond, this is Graham’s finest non-compilation album. It’s also his most fully arranged and rock-influenced effort, with backing by a meaty ensemble featuring Danny Thompson (of Pentangle) on bass and British blues stalwarts Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith (Graham Bond, Colosseum) on drums and sax respectively. Even Graham’s singing sounds better than usual. Graham offers some decent blues, but more interesting are his frequent excursions into raga folk-rock of sorts, especially on “Blue Raga” (learned from Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan). The raga-jazz interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” which moves from meditative opening drones into a freewheeling explosion of modal folk-rock is one of the highlights of Graham’s career on record and one of the best expressions of his ability to make a standard his own. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Taken from the original cover-notes:
This is Davy Graham’s third adventure on an LP …and along roads that are folk, blues, jazz, Arabic, Indian-and one or two more things. Travelling with a guitar and also Danny Thompson, bass Jon Hiseman, drums, Harold McNair, flutes, and Dick Heckstall-Smtih, saxophones. Travelling like Baudelaire’s travellers; ‘who move simply to move’. The man himself is equally at home in Edinburgh (‘a stately city’); Glasgow (‘such warm acid’); or in Athens (‘gold and purple in the evening. Smooth as marble hollow solid eyes of panthers. So exhausting for strangers.’) But he is never at home in any one place for very long. And this seems to be in exact parallel with his music. For he cannot be pigeonholed: fortunately.

He is a life-member on the roundabout of alteration. Like his deep-down blues, and you have to accept his setting of a 1000 year old Romeo and Juliet story. Go with him on a musical flight to Morocco (‘Jenra’ : pavilion’d in splendour) and the return journey will be via an extended raga. But always-I should add-in the company of originality. For after introducing North African music to Western guitar, he has now done the same for India. It’s a bit like Dr Bannister running his 4-minute mile and then going off in search of another distance. All of which is quiet disparate, but also very thorough and exciting and satisfying. In the past few years Davy has played his folk at the Edinburgh Festival, his jazz in some of the best clubs in London, his Arabic interpretations in Tangier and his ragas to people who know Ravi Shankar’s records. (Unlike those who have gone to India for a 3-week Sitar course, he has investigated the form of ragas.) So far nobody who has listened has found his music a disappointment. And certainly not the many who have brought his two previous LPs.

Following this later collection I know have no idea where his next stop will be. He might take a bicycle to Mexico or slip inside a carrier pigeon’s message to Senegal. Or it could be Canterbury. At least I know it will be fascination though as his producer of records, apart from supervising the sessions, I have found myself becoming more and more an editor of the ideas, which zoom out from him like flying saucers, with there origins just as mysterious. He will sometimes break off in the middle of a ‘take’ that another guitarist might become a Faust for, to tell me about three points of recording and it is preserved there for everyone to buy-he rarely performs it before an audience again. “I have to avoid the cliche,” he says. “I want to keep them on the move…”
Well on behalf of those of us who have done cur best to keep up with him. I hope he does.(by Ray Horricks)

DaveyGraham1Personnel:
Davy Graham (guitar, vocals)
Dick Heckstall-Smith  (saxophone)
Jon Hiseman (drums)
Harold McNair (flute)

BackCoverTracklist:
01. Both Sides Now (Mitchell) 5.54
02. Bad Boy Blues (Traditional) 2.11
03. Tristano (Graham) 3.54
04. Babe, It Ain’t No Lie (Traditional) 2.24
05. Bruton Town (Traditional) 3.55
06. Sunshine Raga (Graham) 6.10
07. Freight Train Blues (McDowell) 4.00
08. Jenra (Graham) 3.02
09. Electric Chair (unknown) 2.41
10. Good Moring Blues (Traditional) 5.12
11. Blue Raga (Graham)

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Davy Graham – Folk, Blues And Beyond (1965)

FrontCover1This was Graham’s most groundbreaking and consistent album. More than his solo debut The Guitar Player (which was pretty jazzy) or his previous collaboration with folk singer Shirley Collins, Folk Roots, New Routes, this established his mixture of folk, jazz, blues, and Middle Eastern music, the use of a bassist and drummer also hinting at (though not quite reaching) folk-rock. “Leavin’ Blues,” “Skillet (Good’n’Greasy),” and “Moanin'” are all among his very best folk-blues-rock performances, while on “Maajun” he goes full-bore into Middle Eastern music on one of his most haunting and memorable pieces. Covers of traditional folk standards like “Black Is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair” and “Seven Gypsies” combine with interpretations of compositions by Bob Dylan (“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”), Willie Dixon (“My Babe”), Charles Mingus (“Better Git in Your Soul”), and Reverend Gary Davis (“Cocaine”) for an eclecticism of repertoire that wasn’t matched by many musicians of any sort in the mid-’60s. If there is one aspect of the recording to criticize, it is, as was usually the case with Graham, the thin, colorless vocals. The guitar playing is the main attraction, though; it’s so stellar that it makes the less impressive singing easy to overlook. Ten of the 16 songs were included on the compilation Folk Blues and All Points in Between, but Graham fans should get this anyway, as the level of material and musicianship is pretty high throughout most of the disc. (by Richie Unterberger)

DavyGraham

Personnel:
Davey Graham (guitar, vocals)

BackCoverTracklist:
01. Leavin’ Blues (Ledbetter) 2.54
02. Cocaine (Elliot) 2.26
03. Sally Free And Easy (Tawney) 3.51
04. Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair (Traditional) 2.23
05. Rock Me Baby (Broonzy) 2.47
06. Seven Gypsies (Traditional) 2.40
07. Ballad Of The Sad Young Men (Landesman/Wolf) 3.11
08. Moanin’ (Timmons/Hendricks) 2.30
09. Skillet (Good ‘N Greasy) (Traditional) 2.28
10. Ain’t Nobody’s Business What I Do (Traditional) 2.20
11. Maajun (A Taste Of Tangier) (Graham) 2.42
12. I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes (Johnson) 3.36
13. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Dylan) 2.54
14. My Babe (Traditional) 2.46
15. Goin’ Down Slow (Dupree) 2.31
16. Better Git In Your Soul (Mingus) 2.28

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