Leave it to Hux to uncover hidden treasures. This 21-cut collection by guitar legend Davy Graham is just such an item. Best-known in America for Paul Simon's cover of Graham's instrumental "Angi” on Sounds of Silence, he was, in British folk circles, the undisputed guv’nor of the acoustic guitar by his peers and aficionados who included John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Jimmy Page, Michael Chapman, and Roy Harper -- all of whom were two to four years his junior, and held him in absolute reverence for his grasp of blues, jazz, classical, and Eastern modes. The music included here was compiled and annotated with a wonderful essay by Colin Harper, who offers convincing evidence for even the most cynically minded listener that Graham was a guitar god. The first five tracks come from the lone surviving copy of an acetate demo recorded by Bob Monkhouse in 1963, nearly a full year after his initial EP (which included the original of “Angi”) appeared on the Topic imprint. Monkhouse, a well-known radio and television personality on the BBC funded this acetate, which resulted, eventually, in the recording of Graham’s first album. The five tunes are all covers and reflect his eclecticism: the pop standards "Careless Love,” and “Sunset Eyes," Ray Charles' “Hallelujah I Love Her So," Big Bill Broonzy's "Southbound Train” and, amazingly enough, an amazing reading of Paul Desmond's and Dave Brubeck's “Take Five.” The rest of these recordings were cut at a concert performance at the Medway Folk Art Centre in its “Old Ash Tree” series in 1973. A full decade later, and wallowing in near total a obscurity -- as he would for the rest of his life -- Graham’s chops are even more astonishing. Playing everything from standards (“Pennies from Heaven,” “I Get a Kick Out of You”) to bossa nova (“One Note Samba”), to a medley of Irish fiddle tunes, to of-the-day ie"), to classical (Robert DeVisée's 15th century “Sarabande”), to hard bop jazz (Horace Silver’s “The Preacher” and pianist Carl Perkins' "Grooveyard"), Graham turns in an inspiring one-man history lesson on his guitar and reveals himself to be a musicological phenomenon who transcends his folk roots and traverses nearly the entire world of Western musical history. The sound quality on the first five cuts while not stellar is more than acceptable, and on the latter 16 numbers it's excellent -- especially for a live gig -- thanks to Cormac O’Kane's restoration and mastering. For those who know Graham’s work, this is a truly welcome -- and necessary -- addition to his catalog; for those who have yet to encounter him, come meet the guv’nor and have your ears opened wide.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
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