Heaven And Earth - Hole in the Rain LSM 4010

11 May 2011
The Herald Scotland
Keith Bruce

John Martyn, Heaven And Earth

Two years after his death, the final recordings by the ground-breaking Glaswegian are released.

Although now regularly cited as an influence by many (and audibly so), it is over three decades since Martyn's career was at a peak, but technology has since made copying his technical innovations possible, and his vocal range –from light-voiced yearning to blues growl– is the aim of many.

The good news is that these nine tracks are a very fine epitaph indeed, not excluding the slightly disturbing inclusion of a Phil Collins song (Can't Turn Back The Years). The rest are all Martyn compositions and they pretty much cover the spectrum of his oeuvre. There is lurching, Little Feat-ish funk (Stand Amazed), sub-bass throb and bar-room hammond and tenor sax (Gambler); and a surefire hit-in-other-hands with the personal politics of Could've Told You Before I Met You.

The producers and other longstanding associates who have completed the disc make much of not tampering with Martyn's intentions and that lack of production gloss may be crucial to why this last testament sounds so good.

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