A Scholar And A Gentleman: The Best Of Davy Graham Decca
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TOP REISSUE "My favourite Davy Graham story was told to me by a poet who gave a recital backed by the guitarist at the Edinburgh Festival in 1967. They were part of a group driving northwards in a van up the M1 motorway. Suddenly he looked at the seat next to him and, in a panic, saw that Graham had disappeared. Where to? The question was soon answered by the appearance of a pair of boot heels resting on the windscreen. Graham, who had somehow managed to climb out onto the roof of the van, was sitting there smoking a spliff. As well as underlining his maverick tendencies, this anecdote mirrors his music making: the utter fearlessness of his unprecedented
polystylistic explorations of guitar playing, and an occasional disconnectedness that found him happily singing pop covers in a distracted voice.
This intelligently compiled double CD retrospective of his work shows both sides, but highlights his innovations. It covers the years 1963–70, after which Graham drifted into the wilderness of heroin addiction. But what he achieved was truly extraordinary: a synthesis of blues, jazz, folk and classical guitar with Eastern European, Arabic and Indian influences fused into a unique style that had real integrity.
His reading of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Fire In My Soul” from 1969’s Midnight Man is brilliantly realised as a looser, jazzier take on blues rock, his sharply articulated picking jousting with the rhythm section of Danny Thompson on double bass and drummer Jon Hiseman. Even more audacious is a solo reading of Art Blakey’s “Buhaina Chant”, while his own “Sunshine Raga” and “Rif Mountain” are eclectic gems. The absolute standout, though, is a 1963 live extemporisation of the Irish ballad, “She Moves Through The Fair”. While keeping sight of the poignant melody, Graham gearshifts extravagantly through the most exotic chordings, harp-like glissandi, bent low notes and harmonics. Mike Barnes - TheWire
Cat. number: 5322631