An innovative and highly influential guitarist, Davy Graham pioneered an early blues-Indian classical mix, and introduced a number of new, open guitar tunings into the blossoming British folk scene. Although Graham recorded primarily as a solo artist, he is probably best known for his 1964 collaboration with vocalist Shirley Collins, which brought a new level of melodic expression to the English guitar style. Graham's career sputtered to a stop during the early '70s, in part due to drug use, although he has continued to record infrequently since then. Here's a quick look at his work...
Davy Graham & Alexis Korner "3/4 AD" (EP) (Topic, 1963)
An early single, featuring Graham's highly influential guitar composition. "Angi," which became a standard of the British folk-blues scene.
Shirley Collins & Davy Graham "Folk Routes, New Routes" (Decca, 1964)
A fab reissue of one of the early touchstones of the British folk movement, this captures two of the founding members at peak performance, guitarist Davy Graham and singer Shirley Collins. Graham's innovative, bluesy-jazzy guitar work is an odd, but oddly effective counterpoint to Collins' hyper-tradtionalist balladry. Even with all the musical experimentation, the flow and narrative punch of the songs are never lost, and the record is solid from start to stop. It is easy to see how Graham's adventurous acoustic work on this early album would have had a powerful impact on the up-and-coming young guitarists who came in his wake-- such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Richard Thompson -- and furthered the fusion of blues, rock and trad. Highly recommended!
Davy Graham "Folk, Blues and Beyond" (Decca, 1965)
His first solo album, full of boisterous, infectious acoustic blues. Also features the ever-solid presence of bassist Danny Thompson, who later worked with the likes of Pentangle, Richard Thompson and John Martyn. A great record, with plenty of tracks prominently featured on Graham retrospectives, and recently reissued in its entirety by Topic.
Davy Graham "Midnight Man" (Decca, 1966)
Davy Graham "Large As Life And Twice As Natural" (Decca, 1969)
Davy Graham "Hat" (Decca, 1969)
Davy Graham "Godington Boundary" (President, 1970)
Davy Graham "The Holly Kaleidoscope" (Decca, 1970)
Davy Graham "All That Moody" (Eron, 1976)
Davy Graham "The Compleat Guitarist" (Kicking Mule, 1979)
This batch of instrumentals is okay, but a little monochromatic in its pacing. Doesn't really hold a candle to his best early stuff -- probably best for the fingerpicking aficianado crowd. Fantasy Records had this in print for a while; not sure about its availability now.
Davy Graham "Dance For Two People" (Kicking Mule, 1979)
Davy Graham "Playin' In Traffic" (Crack Probe, 1993)
Davy Graham "After Hours At Hull University, Febrary 4th, 1967" (Rollercoaster, 1997)
Davy Graham "Live At St. Andrews: 8th May, 1966" (Rollercoaster, 2007)
Davy Graham "Broken Biscuits" (Les Cousins, 2007)
Davy Graham "Folk Blues And All Points In Between" (See For Miles, 1990)
An excellent selection drawn from several acoustic blues albums Graham recorded for Decca in the 1960s. It's easy to see where the fluid, languid style of his 1964 recordings would have had a huge influence on British folksters such as John Renbourn, John Martyn and Nick Drake. It's also possible to see how the same style would have sounded quaint and dated by 1969, when the last of these recordings were made. Graham's willingness to include the original lyrics to old American blues tunes -- often full of absurdly macho or misogynist couplets -- is in turns admirable, disturbing and distractingly silly. Also, the bluesy adaptations of Indian classical ragas, while pleasant, don't necessarily hold up, either. Still, this is fun stuff, and if you can find this disc, it's definitely recommended.
Davy Graham "Fire In The Soul" (Topic, 1999)
Another fine best-of, comparable to the other listed above, and probably much easier to find. This material has been out of print for years, and it might be a smart move to snap it up now, while it's still floating around...
Davy Graham "The Guitar Player"
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