Davey Graham
The Complete Guitarist
Kicking Mule Re-issue 1999 (www.fantasyjazz.com)

You may not know Davey Graham, but you've probably heard those who have. Many guitarists call him an influence, like Bert Jansch (who recorded his tune "Anji") and John Renbourn (who produced this album.) It continues today: adapting Moorish music to guitar, Graham hit upon the D-A-D-G-A-D tuning. His tastes were eclectic, and he learned instruments from around the world. Here he sticks to guitar, but variety is not lacking: with all sorts of tunings he covers a spectrum of music. You may not know Davey Graham, but there is no better time to start.

The sound here is strong: deep metallic strings with plenty of ring. The low strings drone, with the theme floating gracefully above. It's the effect of chords without their presence; songs like "Lord Inchiquin" sound like a harpsichord. On "Mighty Fortress" Graham uses a 'Gnashville' tuning, where some strings are the "doubling" strings from a 12-string guitar. The resulting shimmers embrace you, giving it greater majesty. Another style comes in "Renaissance Piece": mellow notes played crisply, the sound is sweetly intimate. Hearing this, you'd think Graham a Renaissance man - but you knew that already.

"Sarah" is a deep blues, served with a tangy finger style. The high notes snake downward; the bass brings the theme! There's even a point where he sounds like a National Steel guitar, a most appropriate touch. It's similar on "Blues for Gino", only here it sounds like two guitars, as Graham calls and then responds. "Down Ampney" is another classical piece, but with the Gnashville sound: the peaceful strains of a time gone by. The same applies to "Banish Misfortune", with lots of that droning bass. The churning strings bring strength: times may be hard, but not for long. When hearing this, the times were never better.

As a bonus, there are eight tracks from other albums; in many ways, these are the highlights. "Dance for Two People", about a friend's children, starts uneasy and goes down from there. Faster it gets, and the notes go progressively sour; a rancorous lot, those kids. What's listed as "Panic Room Blues" is actually Bobby Timmons' "So Tired": a creeping bass and little notes on top. His blues style in a nutshell, and something more. And we leave with two vocals, his charming accent smiling through tales of woe. It fits that flow of notes behind him: that quiet ease is heard throughout, and he's willing to try anything. His success is complete, and so is your enjoyment. - John Barrett

More recordings from Davy Graham

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