As a by-product of the folk boom of the Sixties, there was a fingerpicking guitar boom in the Seventies. In England the most important influence was the Scottish guitarist Davey Graham. Davey took ideas from American blues and jazz players to develop his own approach to the instrument for playing a wide range of material. He hit the scene as an important generation of guitarists were in their formative years, and set a standard that inspired John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy, and many others. The guitarists who began recording in the Seventies had plenty of options to build on; where American guitarists tended to be just guitarists, a young English player could emulate Bert, who is even more significant as a singer-songwriter than as an instrumentalist. Or he could look to Carthy, who forged a highly effective style of backing traditional vocals. Bert, John, and Davey had all written excellent instrumentals, so there were handy models for aspiring composers as well. Some of the guitarists who started out in this milieu have gone on to be relatively well-known, like Roy Harper and Martin Simpson, but others have fallen through the cracks. None is more interesting and original than Dave Evans.
Dave's approach to the instrument certainly owes in a general way to what was going on around him in the Sixties, but his sound is utterly unique, as is his feeling for harmony. Some of Bert's beautifully understated early compositions (one of which is on this recording) are relevant, and others remind the listener of the impressionistic composers, particularly the maverick, Eric Satie. You can also hear echoes of what was going on in the British rock world and even traces of country blues playing. But Dave never sounds like he's forcing stylistic marriages. Like any true artist, he has digested his influences and come out singing his own song.
Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)
1. Stagefright *
3. The Train and the River
6. Knuckles and Buster
7. Medley: Mole’s Moan &The Gentle Man Trap
8. Sad Pig Dance *
9. Raining Cats and Dogs
10. Braziliana *
11. Sun and Moon
13. Morocco John *
15. Whistling Milkman *
16. Insanity Rag
17. Willie Me *
18. Tear Away
19. Jessica *
20. Grey Hills *
21. Ugly Duckling *
22. Jolymont *
23. Cold Feet *
Those tunes marked with a star (*) are included in the tab/music PDF booklet on this CD.
You will need Adobe Acrobat (a free download) to open and print this file from your computer.
Review: One way that guitarists expand the harmonic possibilities of their instrument is through the use of open tunings. By tuning the guitar differently than the standard EADGBE arrangement (for instance, to an open chord), a whole new world of sounds and textures becomes available.
New age guitarists were quick to adopt this method to create beautiful melodies that went nowhere. Dave Evans , however, was one who coupled his love for open tunings with his knack for writing good songs and came up with a terrific album in Sad Pig Dance, originally released in 1974 at the height of the finger-picking guitar movement. Evans is a minor figure on a scene dominated by Davey Graham, Bert Jansch, and others, and this is about all the recordings of his currently available. However, this is quite an album to rest his legacy upon, a near perfect recording full of strong melodies and nimble playing.
Evans manages to take a slew of diverse influences, from blues to rock to jazz and meld them into a style that never seems disconnected. Evans' pieces are frequently lyrical and whimsical, form the playful "Chaplinesque" to the unconventional "Morocco John." "Stagefright" is the rare long guitar instrumental that never wears thin and "Jessica" foreshadows the ambling musing of new age guitarists a decade later (yet in a much more interesting way.) There are twenty-three songs here, all of which demonstrate the vast range of possibilities for folk guitarists to explore. Those who play the guitar will be pleased to know that tablature for eleven of the songs here is included for study.
Sad Pig Dance is a marvel of an album, the kind that is so good it transcends its genre and just becomes good music. It's an odd title for album so filled with pleasures. – All About Jazz