Davy 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)
Experiment, 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.
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
Davy Graham (guitar)
Alexis Korner (guitar on 03.)
01. Angi (Graham) 2.29
02. Davy’s Train Blues (Graham) 3.03
03. 3/4 A.D. (Korner/Graham) 4.40