Graham Dee – The Thirteenth Man

graham dee
Graham Dee
The Thirteenth Man
Tin Kan Records

Midnight music for groovers of all ages

Like–probably–absolutely everyone reading this review, I’d not heard of Graham Dee before discovering this gem of an album, although he’s been an integral part of the London music scene since the 1960’s as a songwriter, producer, touring musician, and whatever else it took to get by.

Now that I know his pedigree, it’s no surprise whatsoever that he has created such a slick album of self-produced and self-written soul-jazz fusion that at times sounds uncannily like an edgy English Steely Dan.

It was the opening bars to the opening track “My Philosophy” that initially caught my attention and had me hooked like a big fat bass on the hook. The song itself is the ultimate in cool, with strings, funky girl backing singers, ace guitar playing and keyboards straight out of Muscle Shoals, and it sets the tone spectacularly well.

Nothing truly gets cranked up past third gear; but that’s hardly the intention with super tracks like “Distracted” and the Mambo beat of “Ducking and Diving”, which just oozes a steamy night in crooked nightclub surrounded by gangsters and their molls.

The first time I heard “Cheating on Love”, it sent goosebumps up my back as Dee’s soft, slightly slurred voice tells a classic tale of betrayal over a luscious backing beat.

For a while, Dee transferred across the globe to L.A. to make his fortune, and he chronicles that period in the delicious “Diminished Responsibility”, which is only missing a Chet Baker trumpet solo to make it perfect.

All of these songs, and possibly the arrangements too, could easily have come out of Stax or Atlantic Records anytime in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, but Graham Dee’s soft, flat, almost purring enunciation is 100% Estuary English and crosses the divide like nothing I’ve heard before.

Much like “the Dan” this album needs to be played late in the evening, with the lights dimmed and a glass of something alcoholic in your hand. Having a partner at hand is optional as these creative love songs will appeal to those in love and brokenhearted equally well.

Released June 2nd
Tin-Kan Records TKCD001

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