Glasgow Walker, Classics

1 Jul 2000
Mojo #80
Chris Ingham

Glasgow Walker (Independiente)
Classics (Artful)

30th-odd album plus old song collection from Glaswegian songwriter.

Martyn's early '70s albums (Bless the Weather, Solid Air, Inside Out) -delicious, blues-infused, smeary ambient folk-jazz- are classics of a kind. But somewhere in the late '70s his music mutated into an aimless AOR electric wash that it's hard to reconcile with the same artist. His sea-lion yawn can still sometimes send shivers (the spine-chilling You Don't Know What Love Is on Glasgow Walker) but when his idea of a song these days is a sentimental, incomprehensible moo over his three favourite round-the-houses minor chords, the sense is of a hugely expressive musician with nothing to say.

Even Classics re-sets some lovely older songs in the bland, grown-up rock colours of the '80s. Of course, that sounds like the complaints of those, who -when Miles Davis began to play fusion- wished he would go back to playing My Funny Valentine. And it may be that Martyn's post '76 work will come to be held in as high regard as the trumpeter's electric excursions now are. Unlikely though.

Chris Ingham

John Martyn: sentimental moo