Davey Graham is a perfectionist. Since 1961, when he recorded the quite remarkable - and largely unnoticed - 3/4 AD with Alexis Koerner, he has restricted his record output, and almost everything he has recorded has been of a high standard. So when he agrees that this is one of the finest records he has made, it really has to be one of the finest guitar records of recent years... Throughout his career he has mixed these high personal standards with an inventive, daring approach to music. Because he plays acoustic guitar he may have been labeled as a 'folkie', but nothing could be further from the truth. He knows a great deal about folk music - and the folk music of North Africa and India as well as Britain and America - but he also has a strong interest in medieval music, later classical music, jazz and the blues.
The sixteen tunes on this album were all chosen because they were instrumentals Davey likes and enjoys playing, rather than to demonstrate particular guitar styles but of course the results work on both levels. This album is both an intriguing musical selection and a tribute to his remarkable technique. He has included hymn tunes, a selection of Irish melodies that are a great personal favorite of his. "They are mostly pipe and fiddle tunes and I've been working on them for some time. I take a great interest in the Irish scene and I'm learning the language". Alongside these there are the classical and medieval pieces ranging from Vaughan Williams' Down Ampney to the Prelude From The Suite In D Minor by Robert De Visee ("a Frenchman who matched Dowland")
Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)
1. Medley: Lord Mayo* & Lord Inchiquin*
2. Lashtal's Room*
3. Ein Feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God)
4. The Road To Lisdoonvana (Jig and Reel)
5. Renaissance Piece*
6. Hardiman The Fiddler*
8. Frieze Britches
9. Blues For Gino
10. The Hunter's Purse
11. Prelude From The Suite In D Minor
12. Fairies' Hornpipe*
13. Forty-Ton Parachute*
14. The Gold Ring
15. Down Ampney
16. Banish Misfortune
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: Davey Graham never found a style of guitar playing that he didn't want to master. In fact, he was such a perfectionist that he recorded infrequently, preferring not to commit any tunes to wax until he had thoroughly explored all the avenues that each tune had to offer. From ragas to ragtime, Graham did it all, but frustratingly a lot of his work is difficult to find.
The Complete Guitarist, originally released in 1977 and now available on CD for the first time, is one of the Socttish guitarist's most satisfying works and a compelling array of acoustic guitar styles. Graham kicks things off with a medley of a traditional Irish air and jig, followed by a catchy original, a hymn, a baroque tune and....well, you get the idea.
Graham, though, is not an archivist or a preservationist, but loves these songs because they're a lot of fun to play and hear. Although many of these songs have been around for years (in some cases for centuries) and are played true to their roots, everything is as fresh as paint even today. Graham has assembled what amounts to a mix tape of traditional tunes from a variety of sources, yet the real feat is that he makes a seamless listening experience out of them. And what's more, while some guitar records can wear thin, Graham's record constantly grabs the attention with an enchanting melody or novel arrangement.
The only problem with The Complete Guitarist may be an over reliance on the DADGAD tuning that was a popular way to render the modal harmonies from the isles (many are familiar with it from Jimmy Page 's acoustic numbers on the Led Zeppelin records). It's a cool sound, but a little goes a long way, and really we don't need five pieces that all sound pretty much alike (although "Frieze Britches" is a great name.) As an added bonus, for those who play guitar (surely part of the core audience for this release) six of the tunes have tab versions available as part of the CD.
No matter. Graham recorded some oddball records in his day, but The Complete Guitarist is one of his most straightforward and rewarding dates. Long before the new age bug hit, there was a lot of great acoustic music that was being made. Graham was one of those guys worth a listen. – Dave Rickert, All About Jazz