Graham Brazier is a name familiar to many in the music world and surely to many not as well-versed in music.
Brazier passed away in September 2015, two years after bandmate and friend Dave McArtney also passed. I wrote about McArtney’s memoir Gutter Black a couple of years ago, and it talks about the days of Hello Sailor, tells many stories that include Brazier and ultimately shows the close relationship these two musicians had for so long. If you haven’t read Gutter Black, I’d personally stake my name that it is one of the best autobiographies of the past few years.
Hello Sailor is best known as one of the electrifying rock bands of the pub circuit that included Ponsonby’s very own Gluepot. With Brazier as the swaggering front man, singing hits like ‘Blue Lady’ and sometimes pulling out the saxophone, they toured and played across the 70s and 80s, with a brief and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to break in to the United States.
One of those little stories that’s become something of a Kiwi legend, is that while Brazier was playing in the United States with Hello Sailor, he was asked to take the place of the late Jim Morrison in The Doors. He reportedly stood by Hello Sailor and was determined to make the Kiwi band succeed.
It was lifestyle that was very much sex, drugs and alcohol, plus a few instances in court and it was certainly colourful. We are about to be treated to a final album from the man himself. Left Turn At Midnite is the brand new album from Graham Brazier, produced and released after his death, and a well-crafted collection of the last songs he wrote.
Left Turn At Midnite has a bit of everything as it pulls together sounds that have made Brazier one of New Zealand’s most iconic rockers. The slide and almost surf sound behind Brazier’s voice in ‘Storm Coming’, or the crooning and ballad of Hosana. The grunting, grooving harmonica driven song ‘Shack’, hails back to that sound you’d have found in the Gluepot in the 80s as the dance floor writhed and moved.
‘University’ almost has elements of the old time country, Cash slap and clap, with
a nice touch of trumpet adding some tasteful instrumentation. Brazier sounds energised throughout the whole of Left Turn At Midnite, and it rightfully has been hailed as his finest collection of music ever. The songs were written and created during a time in his life that included the loss of his best mate and musical colleague McArtney. Brazier wears brutal honesty well, add a mix of raw emotions and that iconic deep voice and you are left with an album that really showcases this musician’s talent.
Produced by Alan Jansson, someone with whom Brazier had wanted to work for years, Jansson has faithfully taken on board Graham’s ideas and concepts and caressed them in a way that lifts the entire album to a level above anything we have seen in the past.
Left Turn At Midnite is out now and is our last taste of Graham Brazier’s writing and genius. I’d recommend going and finding the album, getting a glass of your favourite and raise a toast to a stunning era of Kiwi music.