Ernie Graham (self-titled)

Ernie Graham

Ernie Graham was a member of Eire Apparent, whose claim to fame was their Sunrise album, produced by Jimi Hendrix. His brilliant 1971 solo record often gets the ‘pub rock’ tag, but sounds closer to genuine Americana, like The Band record that never was. It doesn’t feel like most pub rock (even considering Nick Lowe’s Brinsley Schwarz filled out the backing band); it may just be because Graham hailed from England that we call it pub rock. Labels aside, this is a pretty much perfect record.

“Sebastian” is a wonderful folksy opener, but overtly dylanesque.  “Belfast,” the closer, is the other anomaly on this disc, definitely a good number but drastic in its divergent Irish style. All the tunes in between are delicately produced gems and true lost classics. Thankfully, the Dylan impersonation tones down as Ernie lets his natural voice shine through. “So Lonely” kicks in with that mellow groove and tunes like “Girl That Turned The Lever” etch their melody into your mind. A laid-back combo: acoustic guitar, touch of organ, the bass and drums sound warm and wooden, with doubled electric guitar punching it up. Even the harmonies are low key, just barely there, lending to the album’s lovely, lulling mood. The “la la” refrains to “For A Little While” and “Don’t Want Me Round You” are positively anthemic and the psyched-out shuffle of “Blues To Snowy” and dreamy feel to “Sea Fever” seal the deal.  It’s hard to believe this record could fall so far through the cracks.

Beautiful growing melodies, choruses that resonate before you even know the song. Bruce Eder calls this “perhaps the greatest unknown album of the 1970s” and I tend to agree.

The bonus tracks included on the Hux Records reissue are interesting but severely out of place, sounding like Springsteen jams. After this record, Graham would play guitar and pen tunes for Help Yourself, who released their own Cali-flavored gem from the pub rock scene, and would later form his own band, Clancy, who released two albums in 1975.

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“So Lonely”

:D CD Reissue | 2003 | Hux | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | Libery | search ebay ]

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  • Dewi Fraunhofer

    So reminiscent of Meic Stevens, Gordon Jackson, Gary Farr .
    Beautiful music that I’d never heard before. Thanks.

  • Dave

    This is gorgeous. Not pub rock at all! Much more like The Band, as you point out. Thanks for posting Brendan.

  • ib

    On first listen these two tracks seem bordering on the beautiful, but the closing refrain on “for A little While” really seals the deal. I have never heard of Ernie Graham or seen this album before. Certainly, the backing is much warmer than any Brinsley Schwarz I’ve heard previously, and on “So Lonely” the sound is oddly reminiscent of early Frankie Miller, though definitely not in vocal style.

    “For A Little While” is different again, and the guitars have that Beatles “Abbey Road” feel where everything is smokey brown and whiskey comfortable. Great stuff.

  • I missed this one the first time around. Just tracked back from the “Help Yourself” post. More great stuff! Thanks again.

  • Dr Debaser

    Was feeling a little jaded. Been posting and searching for 70s music for a long time. Stumbled upon Ernie Graham LP up on Ebay. Then found your blog. Wow ! Beautiful music.

    Thanks for the great posts and for making me feel enthusiastic again.


    Dr Debaser

  • David Lerner

    This record is fantastic. Too bad reissue is CD only.
    Academy LPs (Brooklyn)

  • I bought this record last year after reading your post and listening to the sample. “For a Little While” is hitting the spot right now. Thank you!

  • Jack Graham

    I have the original reel to reel tape that he recorded in my bedroom with just himself and guitar, just beautiful. I’m his brother.

  • Len Liechti

    Excellent stuff, confirming that a good few UK bands had their own highly enjoyable and quite authentic takes on country rock, Brinsley Schwarz and Starry Eyed And Laughing to name but two of the best. They’re only referred to as “pub rock” because initially the London pub circuit provided the venues for the early gigs by these “lo-fi” bands, while the high-profile prog rock acts were monopolising the college and theatre scenes. Incidentally Graham came from Belfast in Northern Ireland and would have considered himself an Irishman, not an Englishman, in the same way as his fellow countryman Rory Gallagher did.

  • jack graham

    Just for fans Harold is not in his name this was given to him for the sunrise album

  • Adrian

    Only just found this site – but thanks for posting, Jack. I love the EG album, as well as his work elsewhere. Is there any way you can make Ernie’s ‘bedroom tapes’ available on the net for us? I would love to have some more of his music. It is a shame that the Clancy records aren’t available on CD too.

  • jack graham

    Adrian thanks for the interest he truly was talented amongst the bedroom tapes are 4 or 5 other songs he never recorded While I have converted the tapes to CD and mp3 I’m sure you will understand that for the moment it’s nice being the only person in the world with copies forgive me for being selfish not even our sister or other brother has a copy A point of interest though Belfast was written on the plane on his way back to England and not in keeping with the rest of the album but because of the trouble in Belfast at the time and having listened to the family singing Irish songs at parties he felt he should record something

  • Adrian

    Of course I respect your position and memories although hope that you will want to share these when you feel ready. It is good to remember him and know his music lives on – I have shared it with friends and family too. I really like both sides of the ‘Romeo’ single too, did he promote this in any way? I was only saying to Nigel Cross recently what a shame it is that Ernie is not with us to play his wonderful songs – perhaps you know Nigel, who wrote the sleeve notes for the CD? Best regards to you and yours and thanks for the courtesy of your reply, Jack.

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