Davy Graham's second full-length solo album proved to be a groundbreaking record, and generally is considered both his greatest work and one of the most important albums of acoustic folk guitar.
Whilst his first album, The Guitar Player, had been mostly jazz-based, Folk, Blues & Beyond was a change of direction. As the title suggests, it was mostly folk-based, with a good dose of American blues in the mix, and the 'beyond' incorporated jazz and world music. Graham was a seasoned traveller, and had brought musical ideas back from his journeys abroad. Most importantly, Folk, Blues & Beyond blended middle-eastern musical themes with his western folk/blues/jazz hybrid. The resulting sound was exotic, exciting, and for its time, quite revolutionary. The songs themselves were a mix of originals, traditionals and covers (including Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's Alright", Willie Dixon's "My Babe", Leadbelly's "Leavin' Blues" and Charles Mingus' "Better Git It In Your Soul").
Genre-blending aside, the album was a landmark in Graham's career for other reasons. It was the first time he was backed by both acoustic bass and drums, the former by Tony Reeves and the latter by Barry Morgan. This gave many of the songs a harder folk-rock edge, but also added to the jazz elements. Folk, Blues & Beyond also marked Graham's vocal debut. Now his voice was never his strong point, and is often criticized as the weak part of his music, but to be honest he clearly knew he wasn't the best singer, and his vocals never get in the way. Instead they are used to broaden the pallette, in the way that taking the step out of instrumental music into true songs would always do. In the end, it is this combination of his guitar, his voice, the bass, the drums, and the simple yet rich production quality which gives the album such a great sound. And of course, it is his guitar playing that is the focus - if it hadn't already been clear beforehand, Folk, Blues & Beyond cemented his place as folk music's most pioneering, groundbreaking and technically proficient guitarist.
The Guitar Player (1963) <|> Midnight Man (1966)
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