Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Folk, World Music, Pop
Credited for sparking the 1960s folk revival in England, Davy Graham has inspired artists and fellow players such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Paul Simon. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin have cited Graham ... more »
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Credited for sparking the 1960s folk revival in England, Davy Graham has inspired artists and fellow players such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Paul Simon. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin have cited Graham as an influence to their music, a
Graham's darkest masterpiece
Elliot Knapp | Seattle, Washington United States | 04/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was led to believe by a number of critical and product reviews that this album is either not up to the caliber of Davy Graham's earlier albums, or at least represents some sort of creative holding pattern in his catalog. I must say, after listening to this album numerous times, that neither of those assessments are true. This is top-form Davy Graham, full of fiery playing, reimaginations of pop and folk songs, and some of the most "out-there" eclecticism in his career, which is far from any sort of holding pattern.
The album opens (in my opinion) auspiciously with a no-frills folk reinvention of the Beatles' "Getting Better," which finds Davy simply strumming his guitar and singing his heart out--it's some of the best vocals we've ever gotten out of Graham, and it's got a spring to it that only Graham and his studio band (featuring the redoubtable Danny Thompson on wicked stand-up bass) can muster. A lot of people feel Graham's vocals are his weakest aspect, but in my opinion he blows the robotic Ringo Starr out of the water on this one. Hat boasts a brace of bluesy and jazzy numbers, from the hypnotic "Lotus Blossom" (on which Graham flits between gentle strumming and dancing fingerstyle with apparent ease) to the playful blues of "I'm Ready," to a revelatory version of Bob Dylan's "Down Along the Cove"--it seems the song was purely written for Graham's ramped-up acoustic jazz treatment.
For the classically-inclined, Graham includes perhaps more than usual, with a harpsichord piece he's transcribed to guitar(!) on "Hornpipe For Harpsichord" which is not dissimilar to "Oliver," the album's baroque-flavored instrumental closer. Like my review title declares though, some of Graham's darkest music resides on this disc--the flamenco-flavored "Buhaina Chant" and the all-out barrage of "Bulgarian Dance" (in DADGAD tuning) are two of his most menacing instrumental forays into world music (probably the aspect of Graham that has been most influential over time, and one of my favorite parts of the Graham total package), not to mention the neo-classical polytonal "Stan's Guitar," which sees Graham ominously, jaw-droppingly playing in two keys at once. Folk murder ballad "Pretty Polly" is also quite dire, and Graham's rendition is positively spooky, and his treatment of "Love is Pleasing" is melancholic at the very least (especially compared to fellow guitar hero Bert Jansch's from his pop album Nicola). To round things out, Davy includes two of his pal Paul Simon's most isolated classics, "Homeward Bound" and "I Am A Rock."
Not to say that Hat is unlistenable by any stretch of the imagination--in my mind, this is some of Graham's finest work and stands on equal footing with any of his widely-held classics. It's stark and unflinching in its beauty, both musically and lyrically (the borders between those elements are certainly blurred on many tracks--a hallmark of great music), but it's not sunshine and rainbows. If you're new to Graham, I wouldn't recommend that you start here--Folk, Blues & Beyond... or Large as Life & Twice as Natural are more logical entry points to his fantastic discography, but once you're hooked (and you probably will be), this one won't disappoint. I'd recommend buying the 2008 Les Cousins reissue of this album, as Graham is directly associated with the label and more likely to be seeing the fruits of his labors. Enjoying Hat has been a slightly bittersweet experience, though, since it's the final high-water mark in his career; his collaborations with his wife Holly (Godington Boundary and the un-reissued Holly Kaleidoscope) are much less focused and magical (though still enjoyable), but at least his last great album is truly great!"
This one grows and grows
Andrew Plested | 06/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Picked this one up a few weeks ago. I've been a fan of Davy Graham for years, but had never got hold of this record. At first, I was not particularly impressed. A cover of one of the blandest Beatles tracks ever starts the proceeedings ("Getting Better"). Inauspicious to say the least. But repeated listens reveal "soul" in this track and others. DG's guitar work is intriguing as ever. Right on the edge at times, he combines beautiful phrasing with snappy breaks. His original sleeve notes, amusing and a touch pompous by turns, are replicated, and a superb writeup of his situation at the time is also included. This album contains few surprises for fans, who will be accustomed to the mix of madrigals and acoustic bebop; newcomers will undoubtedly be stunned by the range and power of one awesome man with his guitar. Thoroughly recommended for all folk; medieval bluesmen will smile and play air lute whilst dancing the hornpipe (probably). The musical equivalent of The Cat in the Hat"