By Neil Gill
The fourth official solo album from Graham “Left Turn At Midnite” was officially released on May 4th and has made it to number 3 in the New Zealand international artists top 40 album charts and number 1 in the New Zealand artist album charts first week in. Graham always said he would do much better sales after his death and told me that this would be his last album, “four is enough isn’t it Neil?”. The album is undeniably amongst his best work as a song writer and fulfills his long time wish to make a more organic Folk/Blues album if we can define it in that genre. His close friend Dave McArtney was also in the room when they both told me that is the direction their music would be taking in the future. In his last months Graham was listening to Liverpool Sea Shanties and an album called “More Miles Than Money” The Soundtrack to Garth Cartwrights book on American Roots music. If you listen to Dave’s post humous album “Nomads Land” you will find songs that reflect Dave’s Americana style song writing in his last few months. Graham’s album showcases his most recent songwriting and his incredible voice which has attained a fuller richness in later years. He said one day in the bookshop, “if all else fails I can always rely on my voice to get me through”. The song “Autumn” is testiment to this. It has come along way from the early cell phone recorded version I heard back in 2010. He has made the song what it was always meant to be through his voice. Graham had some of the 9 songs on the boil for a while and would try them out on audiences at such places as the Big Beat Cafe which was located conveniently right next door to his bookshop on Dominion road. He would play on a Friday night every other month. As well as his past classic songs he would play acoustic versions of “His and Hers”, “Around The Bend” and “University” where he would get the crowd to do the tricky three beat clap beat for him during the song. The opening track “Seven Sets Of Traffic Lights” was originally written when Graham was very young, possible around 19. I spotted a fruit box with bunch of cassettes in the corner of the bookshop one day and Graham said that I could take them home and check them out (a regular occurence over the years). One cassette was very badly damaged and the tape was broken so I transferred it into a new shell and spliced the tape. When I payed it back there was the first version of “Seven Sets of Traffic lights”. Graham thought there was something missing from the embryonic version so Alan Jansson told him to write a bridge and lo and behold there was another great song and the opener for the abum.
Here is a video I put together utilising all of the songs on the album culled from live footage that I shot at The Big Beat Cafe, The Riverhead Tavern and in his bookshop during Grahams last years.
The album release party was held at the King Arms Pub in Newton on Sunday 7th May where Graham and Hello Sailor had done many gigs over the years. The show was organised by a team of people including Tracy Bennet and Pete (Rhooda) Warren who was the musical director. I have never see the Kings Arms stage so full of extremely talented New Zealand musicians and friends of Grahams The Hello Sailor gentlemen Harry Lyon, Paul Woolwright, Ricky Ball, Stuart Pierce and Lisle Kinney were present and played as an opening act called The Remants (of Hello Sailor) with Harry’s son Johnny helping out on guitar.
The tee shirts and cd’s on sale in the caravan in the garden bar on the day all sold out so both have gone in for a second run of printing.
For a full review and photos of the party. I suggest visiting the fantastic 13th Floor website.