Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

How bizarre: Hello Sailor frontman Graham Brazier's album from beyond the grave

Hello Sailor frontman Graham Brazier's stunning musical legacy is set to continue from beyond the grave.

Brazier - who died in 2015 - would have marked his 65th birthday next month.

But instead of hitting retirement age the celebrated musician will deliver what some consider are his best songs ever - in a posthumous album full of likely hits.

Brazier was working on the album -Left Turn at Midnight - at the time of his death in September 2015.

Finishing the album turned into a cathartic labour of love for Brazier's close friend, and renowned producer, Alan Jansson who put the finishing touches on the album last week.

"We were up until 4am . . .it has been a long time coming," Jansson said.

The producer, who was behind 90s hit How Bizarre by OMC and In the Neighbourhood by Sisters Underground, is most proud of Brazier's posthumous album.

"I feel very lucky. OMC and Sisters Underground was work but with Graham it was fun, we had so much fun in the studio."

Jansson said he was "in awe" of his friend of over 30 years and honoured to produce the album.

"Paulie from OMC was probably as green as I was and Sisters Underground hadn't been in the recording studio much so we made our way together," Jansson said.

"Graham was a perfectionist and a top artist. You have to be there, you have to have the button on record. You have to be ready for him. You don't want to miss anything."

"I feel like all the experience in my life was leading up to this point."

Jansson said the songs on the new album are as good, if not better, than Brazier's Blue Lady with Hello Sailor and solo hit Billy Bold.

"There is no B-side, all of the songs pop out of the speakers."

Jansson said Graham's sudden death, after a heart attack, had "hit him hard". He took a year off from producing the album because the grief was too raw.

"Losing him was heartbreaking. I have lost family and not cried but when I was told about Graham I just broke down," Jansson said.

"It was the saddest day of my life."

The pair had were working on Brazier's album in the months before his death.

"I would sit there in the studio trying to start the album and I'd bring the track up and I couldn't do it. For a year it was too hard," Jansson said.

"Then a few weeks ago it was decided to finish the album for release around Graham's 65th birthday."

Kelly Addis (left) and record producer Alan Jansson in the studio where they finished Graham Brazier's last album.  
Photo / Brett Phibbs
Kelly Addis (left) and record producer Alan Jansson in the studio where they finished Graham Brazier's last album. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The song Round the Bend - Where are you my Friend about Hello Sailor bandmate David McArtney, who died in 2013, was his final recording.

On another song Autumn Hello Sailor bandmate Harry Lyon plays guitar.

Jansson said finishing the album had been cathartic and had helped him work through the pain of losing his friend.

Jansson fondly remembers nights recording with Brazier at Uptown Studio in Freeman's Bay, Auckland.

Brazier referred to the old brick building by Victoria Park Market as his "church" and the pair would meet Thursdays after a "we going to church tomorrow" phone call from Brazier every Wednesday.

Photos of Brazier adorn the walls of the studio and provided Jansson with encouragement.

"I guess it helped with the grief, I would work on something then I'd look at his photo and see his foot tapping and hear him say "you can do better than that" and I'd go back and do some more."

Brazier's long term friend Kelly Addis said songs on the album are just as good, if not better than hits such as Billy Bold and Blue Lady.

Addis organised funding for the album - which cost "hundred's of thousands of dollars."

"A lot of the money was from fans of Graham's who were at university and are now CEOs of big companies," Addis said.

"When asked to help there was no hesitation - that's how many people wanted to see this legacy album made."

Addis planned the release of Left Turn at Midnight for May 5 - the day before what would have been Brazier's 65th Birthday.

The day after his birthday is another celebration - a star-studded concert "Friends of Brazier" at the Kings Arms.

"It's a party of rock royalty - all of those people who supported him," Addis said.

"Jordan Luck, Rikki Morris, Peter Urlich, Kim Willoughby - they will all be singing Graham's music with a well-rehearsed band."

• To pre-order Brazier's album Left Turn at Midnight click here.

Launch party

When: Sunday May 7
Where: Kings Arms, Newmarket
Who: Artists include Jordan Luck, Rikki Morris, Peter Urlich and Kim Willoughby for the "Friends of Brazier" show.

- NZ Herald

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