Sunday, 25 March 2012

Danny Graham LP Sinsemilla SINS-0001/YPRX-1620, 1980

The "short, stocky, slow-witted bald man" from American Pickers may very well be the most objectionable personality on TV right now, and I say that fully aware that we're on the cusp of an American/Australian Celebrity Apprentice season crossover. Perhaps it's a case of Freudian projection, akin to seeing the scumbag collector impulse staring back at us in the form of a Kim Wilde picture sleeve collector, or closer still, self-loathing at the demon of Ruts completism turned outwards. Whatever the psychological drive, every time beardo Picker opens his pie hole about the desirability of a vintage oil can, I roll my eyes, groan audibly, and pray for the fat fuck to be seen off the property at shotgun-point. Tellingly, it is the exact reaction I observe from my wife when I bring records like this into our home.

Exhibit A in my defence: that sleeve. A wasted Danny Graham, looking like he's just woken up after spending the night in a dumpster, trying to pass off a Polaroid self-portrait as the cover of Space Oddity. And then, in case his eyes and the name of his label didn't say it all, Danny emphasises the point by spelling out his name in dope leaves. Clearly, music is not the only kind of DIY at play here; another record in our secret stash. Your honour, the phrase "buy on sight" was invented for records like this. The defence rests.

"That sounds like Play School music", I hear disapprovingly from the next room as the gavel comes down on Put The Blame On Me. It's not an unreasonable verdict. Like an asthmatic David Virgin, Danny Graham's breathy vocals do have a certain child-like quality, the tentative delivery evoking an image of Danny with microphone in hand, bed sheet over his head, trying his best not to wake the neighbours. Given that this LP was recorded at "Bedroom Studios", that may well have been the case. That tone pervades the LP - laidback, predominantly acoustic, bedroom singer-songwriter stuff. The liner notes for the recently-released Left Of The Middle compilation describe it more optimistically as "uniquely mid-'70s acid-folk art rock", adding that "there is no other Australian artist remotely similar to his singular sound". An asthmatic David Virgin notwithstanding, we largely agree. Ordinarily the kind of record that would make us run a mile, Danny Graham's personality shines through on every song, and the LP's low-budget, home-recorded loner charm has turned it into an enduring favourite. Though not without missteps, its many great songs far outweigh the occasional lapses into turgid MOR.

Put The Blame On Me [Download]


Love Start [Download]


Ev'rything Will Grow From Here [Download]


Sister Roulette Eyes [Download]


Hazel, I Don't Know [Download]


Baby, Don't Shoot [Download]


Danny's second LP (Sinsemilla SINS0002/YPRX 1852, 1981) will similarly prove to be a "love it or loathe it" proposition, though it's an entirely different kettle of fish. We're not just talking about the aquatic-themed cover, either. Titled Promotional Copy Only in the grand tradition of our old friends the Guest Stars, the album sees Danny in rock band mode with what could best be termed a new wave approach. Again, that description undersells it somewhat, as the songwriting is unique and decidedly, er, left of the middle. Not only that, Danny emerges from under the covers to deliver some truly staggering vocal performances, the likes of which haven't been heard here since our favourite vocodered Brisbanite, Ross Lovell. Check out Dragon Fire for the best example of his new-found "let it all hang out" yelp. Someone hand the man some Ventolin! Elsewhere, there is much to like in stoned lyrics such as "Does time spiral or repeat on a curve?" and "When our eyes meet it's like the mingling of molten metals", and as on the first LP, the musicianship reveals Danny to be an accomplished and creative guitarist.

This time around, recording took place at "Basement-Bedroom Studios" - literally a more underground offering than the first LP (and fittingly, a tougher one to track down). Interestingly, about half of the songs on Promotional Copy Only use pre-recorded drum tracks sourced from DrumDrops, a series of LPs designed to allow guys like Danny to avoid the obvious displeasures of dealing with a real life drummer. Fans of basement-recorded oddities may recall R Stevie Moore's C90 cassette from 1980 built around the same approach. Here, Danny's use of DrumDrops gives a telling insight into the motivations behind this LP - beats are taken exclusively from the "British side" (as opposed to the "American side") of DrumDrops 5, featuring drum tracks labelled Fast Punk Rock and Straight Ahead New Wave.

Dragon Fire [Download]


Coloured Movies of Ev'ryone's Dreams (Shake) [Download]


Slide Into Slinterland [Download]


Middle Class Romance [Download]


Danny's last release (Sinsemilla SINS0003/13155, 1981) is also the easiest to acquire. Whereas the earlier LPs surface rarely - and are even more scarce without seam splits, sticker scars, water damage, and writing on the labels - this final 45 can typically be found with some digging and a little patience. Featuring two songs from Promotional Copy Only in rerecorded versions, the single should appeal to fans of that earlier record, though for better or worse (one vote here for the latter) it is noticeably slicker in its production.

So what became of Danny Graham after this release? Good question. We'd like to think that this link may provide clues to his whereabouts, and at the very least, evidence of Freudian projection from Danny himself. But unfortunately your worship, the case is largely circumstantial.

Baby's Got The Rhythm [Download]


Middle Class Romance (Infatuation) [Download]


February 2014 update: In July 1981 Roadrunner magazine took a few minutes off from sucking major label arse to pen the following review:


September 2014 update: The first Danny Graham LP has no drum breaks or funky horn lines, so when our friend Mark found a copy he onsold it forthwith. Luckily, he saved scans of the press release tucked away inside:




8 comments:

Holly said...

Brilliant post, thank you so much! Funny how some folks still manage to slip under the radar..

jarrodzlatic said...

Hey, I actually emailed that Christian guy hoping it was the same D.G. but alas, was not. All the points in his favour; rural NSW, surfs, drugs (re: present publications) blah blah blah, but n-o-p-e.

Wallaby Beat said...

It's a recurring theme, Jarod. When contacted, other people listed in the credits have denied any involvement, too. As we say, it's a circumstantial link, but perhaps it's not surprising that someone peddling Christian anti-pot DVDs would disavow his stoner past.

Anonymous said...

Luke and Henry, if you ever find another copy of either of these lp's, i would be happy to purchase for my own collection...baz@egg

SOTISE said...

firstly , i met Danny Graham a few times some years ago he was somewhat of shall we say (a hopeless junky) , the 'lead' guitarist on this album was a friend of my girlfriend's at the time... this is going back to the late 80s... my understanding (based on second hand information) is that Danny Graham , over dosed in 1990 -91, and sadly died.. shortly there after

Anonymous or any other interested party .. i have a near mint copy of the first album, played once or twice , which i'll be selling on ebay within a few days of posting this message... i'll start at 20 bucks... i like the record an am digitising it , so if anyone wants a repost ..happy to oblige

devron rossalini said...

SOTISE,
have you sold that record?

dave chapman said...

The press release mentions that Danny is recording at "Mix Studios". Actually he was recording at "Mixdown Studios" in Artarmon where I was the engineer. We were recording what would become Danny's single of "Baby's Got The Rhythm". Though perhaps a better sound overall, the song never recaptured the vibe from Danny's original album, and Danny had difficulty nailing the vocal. I saw Danny years later at a gig in Thornleigh, but he had no idea who I was. He was…pretty vacant.
I liked Danny a lot and some of his ideas were brilliant. Hope he's still with us, but it would hardly surprise me if he wasn't.

Tom Freck said...

Is there anyway you could send me the mp3's of these songs. I had downloaded them on divshare what must have been years ago and I think the link has gone bad? I need to hear that sound! thank you kindly.

Devin