Davy Graham is a name many might not be familiar with, but many more will have felt his style as he influenced many musicians that followed. Davy was an innovative British acoustic guitar player who came to prominence in the 1960s UK folk boom and is considered the main influence on similarly innovative Scottish guitarist Bert Jansch, of Pentangle fame. Jansch himself has influenced everyone from Neil Young, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan to Bernard Butler, Johnny Marr and Yo La Tengo so, in part, at least some thanks must go to Davy Graham.
Graham travelled Europe and north Africa as a busker in the days before cheap flights and package holidays and whilst travelling picked up the styles of many local musicians, incorporating alternate scales and tunings into his own traditional blues folk background. Upon his return, the able guitar player simply stunned UK audiences with a knowledge that nobody else in the UK could challenge. He is credited with devising the DADGAD guitar tuning, as later used by the likes of Nick Drake, John Martyn and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and early composition ‘Anji’, which demonstrated his fluid but complex playing, went on to become an acoustic guitar standard – it was simply the tune everyone had to learn in order to impress audiences, large or small.
Bert Jansch died in 2012, Graham preceded him, departing in 2008 and this anthology is a timely retrospective covering his complete career. Contained within are many rarities and previously unreleased demoes, live recordings and alternate versions which will surely prove irresistible to existing fans. At 54 tracks in length however, it could be an overwhelming introduction to any beginner, particularly as several of the recordings from his truly classic, early period – before a long term heroin problem stunted his development – are of debatable worth due to poor sound quality. A great addition to the catalogue of Graham, but starters should first try his classic albums ‘Folk, Blues and Beyond’ (1964) and ‘Folk Roots, New Routes’ (1965), both pivotal moments in British folk music, the latter recorded with folk singer Shirley Collins is often cited as the birthplace of British folk rock.