Weekly Digs: Ernie Graham – Artist Profile

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It’s easy to feel like you’ve gotten to know an artist just by listening to their music, and sometimes I feel weirdly betrayed if it turns out someone who’s music I really like is a bit of an asshole. With the music of Ernie Graham and a few odd photographs, comes a strange confidence that he was a genuinely good dude. Just look at that smile:

imageIn the end though I suppose it’s probably just the music that matters, not the person who created it. Ernie Graham was a man, and he created some excellent music. Starting out as a rhythm guitarist for Tony & The Telstars in his home of Belfast, Ireland, Graham soon split for England where he met Henry McCullough. The two headed back for Belfast and formed The People, later called Eire Apparent. Eire Apparent is mostly known for recording an album produced by Jimi Hendrix, with a couple songs featuring his guitar work. These are gems for any Jimi fans, but Eire Apparent’s stuff was seriously excellent, and should stand on it’s own merit. Here’s an pretty raw 1968 single of theirs:

Here I Go Again

The band broke up in 1970 and Ernie decided to go solo, releasing the eponymous LP Ernie Graham in 1970. This album is an absolute stunner, and if you’ve got a record player I can’t recommend it enough. On it, Graham takes a new direction with his sound resulting in what most would define as “pub-rock”, a musical movement aimed at bringing music back to it’s basics from the glam rock that was emerging around the same time. Some parts folk, some parts roots; good vibes abound and Ernie Graham captures the soul of the genre perfectly. Here are a couple standouts from the album which was reissued by 4 Men With Beards this year and can also be found on CD:

So Lonely

The Girl That Turned The Lever

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The album was praised by critics but sold poorly, and in 1971 Graham joined the band Help Yourself, appearing on their 1972 album Strange Affair. Ernie would go on to form the band Clancy, releasing two albums with them and later going solo again. In the 80s after another failed attempt at success with a new band, Ernie Graham called it quits on his music career and took a job on the railroads. In 2001 he died due to complications with his alcoholism. Perhaps a sad ending for a man who never received a fraction of the recognition he deserved, but I think he must have died proud of the music he helped create. Here’s a song from Strange Affair to send you off:

Brown Lady

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Jamie Coughlin

Weekly Digs: Milton Nascimento/Clube Da Esquina

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If the cold weather is starting to bring you down, it’s time to listen to the sunny music of Milton Nascimento. A Brazilian legend, Nascimento isn’t very well known outside his home country, despite having a heavenly voice and prodigious songwriting ability. Take the first track from his 1975 album Minas:

The tune opens with a youth choir singing a lyricless melody, then merges into Milton’s wonderfully charged falsetto voice over a softly finger picked guitar progression. A third voice enters the mix and soon the choir rises back up to meet the two melodies, creating an epic and expertly arranged conglomerate of singing. It’s this precision and confidence that makes Nascimento’s music so magical and enjoyable to listen to.

In the 1960s Milton formed the Brazilian music collective Clube da Esquina (Corner Club) along with lyricist Márcio Borges and songwriter Lô Borges. The group recorded and released their first LP Clube Da Esquina in 1972, which has become regarded as a classic of Brazilian music. Inspired by the likes of The Beatles, Clube Da Esquina blends rock and roll with the Brazilian sounds of bossa nova and jazz, and is accessible for fans of all kinds of music.

The production alone warrants a listen, layering crystal clear instrumentation and blending textures of all kinds, resulting in a sound that is broad, intricate, definite, and pure. As the record plays it feels like you are right there in the studio, listening in on the group play over 40 years ago. Clube Da Esquina is an album that takes multiple listens to even begin to digest, but it’s apparent during the first spin that Nascimento and Co. were onto something special.

Nascimento would go on to put out over 40 albums in a career that is still going on today. The depth of his work is incredible and full of wonderful songs as well as collaborations with artists like Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, and Quincy Jones. Below is Clube Da Esquina in it’s entirety. 

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Jamie Coughlin