Mention Folk-Rock to an American and you're going to conjure up visions of Roger McGuinn with a Rickenbacker and granny glasses performing 'Mr Tambourine Man,' or maybe Dylan and the Band being booed at Newport. Use the same phrase in England and it's a different kettle of fish altogether. Bob who? Roger what? Over there it's the real stuff, Fairport and Steeleye, and the crowning glory known as Electric Folk, when the traditional ballad met the 1960s and 70s, and everyone came away happy.
It was the best of times, it was... well, the best of times. Great songs, great performances, the discovery of a nation's musical history by its young, and a tradition kept alive. But while Fairport Convention first plugged a traditional song into their amps in '68 ('She Moves Through The Fair' on What We Did On Our Holidays, and yes, I know it's credited to The Band, but that's a lie), Folk music had already been electrifying itself - in spirit if not in fact - for a decade.
Fuelled by skiffle, that deadly take on American Blues and Folk music, a few hardy souls had looked back, and found that they had a past of their own that was worth keeping. Some of them tended the flame with reverence. Others, a bit more adventurous, realized they could mould it into something quite new and relevant, and make it burn even brighter.
So you had people like Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd working in the Folk clubs, combining the old and the new and expanding the tradition. They were followed by a new generation, people like Wizz Jones or Davey Graham, who shook up Folk, Blues, Jazz, Middle Eastern modes, and whatever else he could find in a bag, and put it out on seminal albums like Folk Roots, New Routes (with Shirley Collins) that influenced a generation or two of guitarists. Or Shirley Collins herself, Anne Briggs, The Young Tradition, The Watersons, the Ian Campbell Folk Group. By 1965 the Folk revival had gathered steam and was speeding headlong into the future.
It wasn't long before they were joined by a new legion, names like Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch, Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, who had also been making the rounds of the Folk clubs (almost invariably the back rooms of pubs; Folk music and beer have always enjoyed a symbiotic relationship) and starting to push the idea of Arran sweaters and beards (but not the finger in the ear) out of the window (and let's not forget the Incredible String Band, who didn't seem to realize there were barriers between musics at all).
Fast forward the tape a bit to 1968. Pentangle already existed, Jansch working in a group setting with John Renbourn, offering an acoustic vision of all things musical, from blues to jazz to traditional Folk. Sandy Denny, a club veteran, had replaced Judy Dyble in Fairport Convention, at that time a young group with their eyes and ears firmly pointed towards that American Folk-Rock muck. Psychedelia had exploded in multi-colored swirls everywhere. Change was in the air.
And that's exactly what happened to Fairport.
At first it was the haunting She Moves Through The Fair, a tentative start. But later in the year, on Unhalfbricking there was 'A Sailor's Life,' and things were well and truly underway.
Once the idea was hatched, it was only a matter of time before Electric Folk achieved critical mass. That came, once again, with Fairport, and the Liege and Lief record, the manifesto of the Electric Folk movement, 75 percent traditional, and 100 percent electric.
They'd taken on Dave Swarbrick full-time as a fiddle player, and replaced Martin Lamble (killed in an auto wreck) with Dave Mattacks. Ashley Hutchings was spending all his free time poking among the song archives at Cecil Sharp House and picking Sandy's brains. For it was Ashley who was the strand that brought it all together, who really saw the possibilities of a merge between the past and present, of plugging in Folk music and playing it in a way that a new generation would want to hear.
Liege and Lief more than justified his hope. From the first strains of 'Come All Ye,' through 'Matty Groves,' a bunch of wild jigs to the closing chord of 'Crazy Man Michael,' it was a complete triumph. So much so that Ashley and Sandy promptly left the band. Well, not quite like that. But it's time for an aside.
When he had nothing better to do, a certain Jimmy Page was occasionally known to pass a night or two at Folk clubs like Cousin's, listening to the talent, both the tradders and the new singer-songwriter/ guitarists like Michael Chapman, inhaling some of the tunes and styles. He already had a bit of a reputation, both as a session musician and a Yardbird, and was preparing to unleash the beast known as Led Zeppelin upon the world.
When that band hit the studio for the first time, some of the magic Folk dust had obviously got under his skin, for they recorded 'Black Mountain Side' (inevitably with a writing credit for Page) which sounded suspiciously like that standard 'Blackwater Side.' Hmmm.
And the singer-songwriters, previously a notoriously namby-pamby bunch, were electrifying themselves too. Chapman had a young Mick Ronson playing with him. John Martyn, newly married, was over in Woodstock, and getting ready for his own golden period. Roy Harper, already a hippie renegade, signed to the Harvest label and created a series of albums which expanded the boundaries of Folk. And they were but the tip of the iceberg.
But back to the Fairport camp.
Ashley Hutchings had left the band because, simply, the broth had too many cooks. In Sandy and Richard Thompson they boasted two worldclass songwriters, both of whom were supplying material. He needed a level playing field to pursue his vision of "traditional music with electric instruments." And Sandy, well, she needed fresh horizons, which she found in Fotheringay, who lasted for one album, before she followed the solo path (rejoining Fairport briefly in '75).
Ashley had long been talking about his idea of the new English music with people he met at festivals. Now it was time to put it into action. Joining with the duos of Tim Hart and Maddy Prior and Gay and Terry Woods, he formed Steeleye Span. And started to write a new chapter of Electric Folk.
At first though, they weren't particularly electric. Or even live. Steeleye Mark 1 never existed outside the studio and rehearsal room, the Woods exiting before any gigs could be played. They were replaced by Martin Carthy (who actually played electric guitar on stage for the first time in his career) and fiddler Peter Knight. The quintet recorded two LPs (Please To See The King and Ten Man Mop) before both Carthy and Hutchings called it quits, and Steeleye decided it was time to crank up the volume.
Carthy returned to acoustic performance. Hutchings decided to delve even deeper into the tradition, first of all with an album of Morris dance tunes (Morris On) performed by only the finest friends, and The Compleat Dancing Master, all leading very nicely into the Albion Country Band, which he put together with his wife, Shirley Collins (who said these scenes were incestuous? Not me). Through records like No Roses, Battle of the Field, Rise Up Like The Sun and Lark Rise to Candleford (with a detour into the rustic tranquility of the Etchingham Steam Band), Hutchings showed himself to be a man who'd truly found his niche, and was mining it to utter satisfaction.
Fairport, meanwhile, decided to struggle on as a five-piece, although with the talent on hand they didn't have to struggle too hard. Full House found them at the top of their instrumental game, whether it was originals like 'Walk Awhile' or the traditional arrangement of 'Sir Patrick Spens.'
Of course, with their luck, it was too good to last. Full House would be the last studio appearance of Richard Thompson as a member of Fairport. He went off to that inevitable solo career with the superb Henry the Human Fly in 1972, then with new wife Linda on the vastly underrated I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight a couple of years later. And from there it was ever upward and onward.
With him went the real spark of Fairport. They carried on (although, from this point, struggling would have been a fairly apt term), vanished, reformed, and today still have their annual bash at Cropredy, in Oxfordshire, and knock off the odd dodgy album.
But in 1970 there were plenty of pretenders to their Electric Folk crown. Steeleye was coming up on the outside. Bob and Caroleanne Pegg had their band, Mr Fox, performing original material in a traditional manner. The Trees enjoyed a few inspired moments and Pentangle pushed their envelope, albeit at a lower volume. Even Traffic had got in on the act, with their version of the ancient 'John Barleycorn.' From the murky land of five bridges and Newky Broon came Lindisfarne, eagerly met on the corner by Geordies and Folk fans, who gave them a couple of hits, while a faintly prog outfit called East of Eden took a jig ('Jig-a-Jig') precariously near the top of the charts. Even the Frogs tried to get in on the act, as Alan Stivell put together a band to electrify Breton music. This Folk Rock thing was becoming quite popular.
Fairport had put it all in motion, but it was with Steeleye Span that Electric Folk saw the height of its glory. Suddenly grown men and women all over the country were singing about elves and goblins while jigging and reeling all over the stage, as guitars crunched through a series of Marshall stacks. What were they thinking? (At least they had an excuse, which is more than could be said for Iron Maiden.) Well, the truth was that the old songs had power. They'd stuck around for so long because, in some twisted -and sometimes very straightforward- manner, they captured a national consciousness. Tales of poor hedging and ditching boys might not have had much surface relevance in 1972, but at an atavistic level, a deeper meaning came through, a sense of history. Also, it had the beat and the melody, a definite alternative to the increasingly insular world of prog rock or the glam that was attracting the teenybop crowd. Folk music was, um, cool. And after a few pints you were ready to jig with the best of 'em.
By 1975, though, it was all but dead.
Quite why remains a good question. That public taste had moved on was part of it. To the great unwashed, there were only so many jigs or murder ballads you could absorb without them all sounding the same. More than that was the fact that the creative surge that propelled the bands had largely run out of energy. To be fair, the Albions still had plenty of good work ahead of them, and people like Martin Carthy are still going strong today, as are a few of the singer-songwriters. As a movement, however, Electric Folk had passed its sell-by date, and it was beginning to smell a bit.
Of course, Folk music is a tradition that will never die. The great period of the Fairports, Steeleyes, etc. might now be history, but everything runs its course. Which doesn't mean that it hasn't passed into the musical lucky bag. The influence lingers on, to be dragged out from time to time in different forms. You have the Oysterband and the Levellers, bastard offspring of Electric Folk and punk. In Scandinavia there's Hedningarna and Garmarna, who take it one step further, using acoustic instruments and a lot of samples (a sort of industrial Folk). And in the U.S., Boiled in Lead, Tempest, New St. George, Cordelia's Dad and others are merrily perverting the tradition.
No. Electric Folk may never come back, but that's fine. Because, for those of us who were there, the pictures remain crystal clear in our heads. As do the voices on CD.
There's an apocryphal story concerning John Martyn that seems to sum up the way other musicians (and a core of fans) feel about him. In the mid-70s, English folk doyen Martin Carthy was watching television when John came on to perform. Carthy got to his knees, kissed the set and said, "So good to see our John again." In the course of more than 25 years and 23 albums (three of them compilations), Martyn's moved far from his beginnings as a Dylanish singer-songwriter, to a point where folk and jazz intersect. Along the way he's made innovative (and now often copied) use of the Echoplex unit with his guitar, and gained many admirers among his colleagues in the business, including Richard Thompson, Steve Winwood, Levon Helm and Phil Collins.
John Martyn was born in 1948 in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of musician parents who divorced not long after his birth. Raised largely by his father and grandmother in Glasgow, he spent time in London with his mother, "every summer, really, because of a peculiar divorce situation between my parents." In his teens he began a romance with folk music, taking up the guitar and coming under the tutelage of Hamish Imlach, a traditional singer, and occasionally touring with him. After leaving school he moved south to attend the university, living near his mother in Kingston-on-Thames. "I was playing - well, learning to play, really," he said. "I used to go to a folk club, and this guy called Theo Johnson asked if I'd like to make a record. I thought he was joking, but I gave him my mother's phone number, because I was living in a place without a phone. Then my mother came flying round one day and said, 'A guy wants to take you to see a record company.' So I went, and, unbeknownst to me, Theo had already taped one of my songs from the club. Blackwell (Chris Blackwell, head of Island Records) really liked it." Martyn became the first white artist signed to Island, which had been purely a reggae label, but was looking to expand. His first offering was London Conversation, a very Dylan influenced album, including a credible cover of 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right.' "We did the album within two weeks of the first meeting, all in one day. And that was that." The cost of the session, which was recorded in mono, was a gigantic two hundred and twenty five pounds.
London Conversation didn't exactly set the world on fire; in fact, it proved difficult to find. "I remember going into Island Records six or seven months after it came out and saying, "I'm sorry, I don't see my record in the shops." In those days I was very enthusiastic and ambitious, and I said, "We don't seem to be getting anywhere with this.' They said, 'Okay, we'll give you some money and we'll keep the publishing,' and I replied, 'If you keep that it'll be very difficult for me to get another record.' At this point Blackwell took notice, because back then you weren't supposed to be that intelligent. So that was the start of our friendship, really."
Island let him back in the studio to record The Tumbler, a big step forward in style and ability. Martyn's guitar work had improved to the point where he felt comfortable with complex instrumentals, and although the songs still had Dylanish and bluesy edges, his own personality was peeking through. The album also included other musicians, such as jazz flautist Harold McNair, as John's horizons continued to widen: "I'd never considered other musicians until that point. I was beginning to check out other people, really."
At that point John came under the managerial wing of Joe Boyd, who bears much responsibility for the English electric folk scene of the late 60s, and he was introduced to Beverley Kutner, a singer from Coventry who appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival. Originally John was going to play guitar on the recording sessions she was due to undertake in America. Instead, he married her, and the pair signed to Warner Brothers in the U.S., who gave them enough money to prepare Stormbringer in Woodstock, NY.
"It was a Band thing. It crept in. I very much like Levon Helm, and I was inspired by all that. I was singing all the time with Beverley."
Under the direction of Paul Harris (The Doors, John Sebastian), the album was completed in eight days. It stands, still, as an interesting combination of British folk with American roots sounds, acoustic guitar over bass, drums and piano. John and Beverley alternated songs, their styles quite different, with John's writing maturing at a rapid pace.
Back home, the pair followed it up with The Road to Ruin, which built on the foundation laid in Woodstock. The songs again had that loose feel, but the mix of backing musicians, including jazzers Lyn Dobson and Ray Warleigh, and folk bassists Dave Pegg and Danny Thompson, lent the proceedings more of an improvised feel. "By that time my ears were opening a little," John said, "and I was listening to a lot more. It was osmosis, really. I'd been to a lot more live gigs and I was hanging out with musicians nonstop, really. So I was exposed to more stuff every day - people's record collections, gigs they took me to, gigs I went to."
As Beverley was pregnant with their second child, Island gave John six thousand pounds to make his next album. Musically it would prove to be a very wise investment. Bless The Weather was the pivotal album in John's career, where his ability, experience and interest combined to create something quite new. "The ones that came before were folky albums. Bless The Weather, despite being basically acoustic, was nowhere near as folky. It was very innocent, in retrospect." The record introduced not only his new technique of slurred vocals, a deliberate attempt to imitate the sinuous tones of the saxophone, but his use of the Echoplex on the guitar, on the extended instrumental, 'Glistening Glyndebourne,' a jam between the musicians, where Martyn uses the effect to create rhythmic lines he could play over, creating a soundscape. On the more straightforward songs, he also began using the slap, emphasizing the beat by use of his right hand against the strings.
The disc felt relaxed and spontaneous (some of the material was written just before the sessions), and is still considered one of his best albums. But it was followed, in February 1973, by Solid Air, which remains his best-known record. All the things Bless The Weather had aspired to became reality here. Excellent songs, strong performance, with voice and guitar more fully integrated into the improvisational fray.
The title track was written for Nick Drake, the highly-regarded singer-songwriter who would commit suicide the following year. 'May You Never' (a lukewarm version of which was later recorded by Eric Clapton; America had already covered 'Head and Heart' from the previous album) was dedicated either to Martyn's son or Andy the Greek (who ran Cousin's folk club), depending on which story you hear. All through, the empathic interplay between Martyn and double bass player Danny Thompson is evident, a combination that frequently gigged together during the first half of the 70s, building an outrageous reputation - for their behavior as much as their music. "Danny and me were a fairly vicious combination," John admitted. One of their incidents involved Thompson rolling a deaddrunk Martyn up in a carpet, then nailing it to the floor. "It's true," he said, with not even a touch of shame.
October 1973 brought another album from John, Inside Out, which refined some of the sounds of Solid Air and added a great deal of instrumental experimentation. "It was more adventurous, not as poppy. I think I was expected to make another Solid Air, and it came as a shock to the record company that I didn't. But it didn't bother me. And it won the Golden Rose of Montreux, so I wasn't worried."
A year would pass before his next release, an abrupt about-face to the more gentle, very relaxed Sunday's Child. The songs were focused, from the electricity of 'Clutches' and 'Root Love' to the acoustic version of the traditional 'Spencer the Rover.' "I was a Sunday's child," John said, explaining the title. "I was very relaxed then, it was a very peaceful time in my life. It was a very domestic album. I was very happy in those days."
But there was still the constant round of touring, still with cohort Danny Thompson. Frequently they were joined by jazz drummer Jon Stevens, and, from time to time, Free's Paul Kossoff. Martyn was a popular concert act, and eventually he came up with the idea of a live album. Island passed on the idea. "I don't know, I asked them and they didn't want to put it out. There must have been a reason, but I never enquired. I didn't care, I did it myself. It wasn't as if we fell out over it or anything." Recorded in 1975 at Leeds University, it had the guitar, bass and drums trio playing both electric and acoustic Martyn. John released it himself, selling it by mail order from his Hastings home in an edition of ten thousand signed and numbered copies (although it does have an Island catalogue number). The cover, a parody of the Who's Live at Leeds, has the title printed on a plain white cover in a rough stencil.
Martyn's touring extended to America at this time. Solid Air had acquired a cult reputation, and the other Island albums followed it. He opened for Yes, filling in the open dates with gigs at coffee houses and folk clubs. "I didn't enjoy it. I always did very well with the audience, it was just Yes I didn't like! You go from playing for 70,000 people to 70, and it's very odd." But American success, even at a small level, seemed to evade him.
One World returned him to Island, with a more polished sound and a broader instrumental palette, including Steve Winwood on synthesizer. "Chris Blackwell produced it, so I can't take credit for changing the lineup. It's definitely more produced, not nearly as raw as the other stuff. In retrospect, it's a pretty good album. I recorded it in Blackwell's backyard (in Jamaica) 1). We brought the Island mobile up to his house and did it there. Lee 'Scratch' Perry (the famous reggae figure who produced 'Big Muff' on this record) was there all the time. I've done a lot of work with him over the years. I've never got credited for most of it. It's rather like a), you don't get credit, and b), here's the good bit - YOU DON'T GET PAID! No, I got paid in two crates of Tia Maria. Or was it Kahlua? Coffee liqueur, whatever it was. Still, better than a poke in the eye." The U.S. and U.K. versions contain different mixes on three tracks.
At the same time Island issued the So Far, So Good compilation, which includes a version of 'I'd Rather Be The Devil' that differs from the one on Live At Leeds. Although Martyn disputed some of the track selections, it sold well enough to earn him his only gold disc.
Grace and Danger was the next release, coming three years earlier, Island held onto it for a long time "because that's when the Sex Pistols and everyone were getting very big, and they didn't think the time was right for such a ballady album." 2) Musically the record marked the beginning of Phil Collins' ongoing involvement with John ("He just turned up at the gigs, then he turned up to record"), and the increasing move towards jazz in John's writing, which would persist for several years.
Following Grace and Danger, John moved to Warners for two albums, which were released on the Genesis subsidiary, Duke. Glorious Fool (1981) had a slightly softer sound, produced by Collins, based around synthesizers rather than guitar, which seemed to constrain John's personality. However, it reached #25 on the U.K. album charts. In 1982 its followup, Well Kept Secret, with a rawer feel, went even higher, peaking at #20. Island, meanwhile, capitalizing on this surprising new popularity, issued another compilation in the U.K., The Electric John Martyn, notable for its inclusion of the U.S. mixes of three tracks from One World.
By this time John was working regularly with a band, a necessity to reproduce the fuller sounds of his records. "It took me a long time to learn to play with a band, 'cause when you're playing solo you don't have to count the eleven and a half bar blues or something. You can't take that kind of liberty when you're playing with other musicians. You can get away with it in a trio, if the other people know how your head works, but mostly it's kind of dangerous. And it's interesting, because you have to deal with other personalities. I never had that before. So you have to become a little more sociable when you have a band."
Seemingly out of nowhere, the band issued a live album, Philentropy, on the tiny Body Swerve label in the U.K. in November 1983. Documenting shows recorded in London, Brighton, and Oxford, it showed that a group setting hadn't diluted his power - in fact, the more recent material benefitted from the setting.
With that out of the way, John rejoined Island, and Chris Blackwell, who returned him to Jamaica to record. The result, Sapphire, produced by John ("but with a lot of help from Robert Palmer"), is a very light album, completely dominated by synthesizers, almost to the point of blandness; it certainly doesn't seem like a John Martyn record. It did, however, contain a quirky version of 'Over the Rainbow' which reached #2 in Sweden as a single. "We were running short of things to do one night," he recalled. "I put a drum loop down. It went dee dee dee deep. I just started wandering round the studio singing the melody. It was a happy accident."
Piece By Piece (1986) was a return to form, as John ripped his way through tracks like 'John Wayne' with a vitality that hadn't been heard in almost a decade. The U.S. CD lists nine tracks on the sleeve, but contains 13, with 'Solid Air,' 'May You Never,' 'One World,' and a version of Dylan's 'Tight Connection To My Heart' added.
Several tracks from this album were also on Foundations, a third live album which appeared in 1987. The weakest of his live offerings, it did contain some new songs, the studio versions of which turned up on The Apprentice.
Released in 1990 on the indie Permanent, The Apprentice featured Martyn's first acoustic guitar recordings in 10 years, and a collection of strong material. Its successor, Cooltide, didn't have that wealth of tunes, and when No Little Boy 3), a reworking of older material, supported by several guest stars (including Collins, Dave Gilmour and Levon Helm) came out in 1993, it seemed that Martyn might be a spent force, resting on his few laurels.
As it turned out, this was the album that rejuvenated his career. Recorded at the behest of his European record company, it received radio play on a number of adult alternative contemporary stations. Supported by a tour with the band in Europe - with plenty of press coverage - and several months of solo touring in the U.S. ("the first time I've played that way in years") it sold well - well enough to prompt Island to dig in its vaults an produce Sweet Little Mysteries - The Island Anthology, a 2-CD set covering the period from Bless The Weather to Foundations, all beautifully remastered. The word from the company is, if it sells well, all his albums will become available on CD here - a welcome thought, with all the LPs long out of print, and only Piece By Piece and Foundations ever having seen that format here, with the latter now deleted. As John himself said, "They're going to put out a box set, and I'm not even dead yet. Isn't it incredible!" No, it's just about time.
1) This is not correct, One world was recorded in Theale, west of London, but the house might have been owned by Chris Blackwell.
2) Another explanation than the usual one, of Blackwell being uncomfortable with the private nature of the material.
3) Nickson apparently missed BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert in the story (not the discography), Couldn't Love You More and Live, probably as a result of the geographical distance.
John Martyn - U.K. Album Discography
Island ILP 952 London Conversation (1967, mono)
Island ILPS 9091 The Tumbler (1968)
Island ILPS 9113 Stormbringer (1970, John & Beverley)
Island ILPS 9133 The Road to Ruin (1970, John & Beverley)
Island ILPS 9167 Bless The Weather (1971)
Island ILPS 9226 Solid Air (1973)
Island ILPS 9253 Inside Out (1973)
Island ILPS 9296 Sunday's Child (1975)
Island ILPS 9343 Live At Leeds (1975)
Island ILPS 9484 So Far, So Good (1977)
Island ILPS 9492 One World (1977)
Island ILPS 9560 Grace And Danger (1980)
WEA K 99178 Glorious Fool (1981)
WEA K 99255 Well Kept Secret (1982)
Island ILPS 9715 The Electric John Martyn (1982)
Body Swerve JMLP 001 Philentropy (1983)
Island ILPS 9779 Sapphire (1984)
Island ILPS 9807 Piece By Piece (1986)
Castle DOJOLP26 Philentropy (reissue) (1986)
Island ILPM 9492 One World (reissue) (1986)
Island ILPM 9226 Solid Air (reissue) (1986)
Cacophony SKELP 001 Live At Leeds (reissue) (1987)
Island ILPS 9884 Foundations (1987)
Permanent PERM LP1 The Apprentice (1990)
Permanent PERM LP4 Cooltide (1991)
Island ILCID 9052 London Conversation
Island ILCID 9091 The Tumbler
Island ILCID 9113 Stormbringer
Island ILCID 9133 The Road To Ruin
Island ILCID 9167 Bless The Weather
Island ILCID 9226 Solid Air
Island ILCID 9253 Inside Out
Island ILCID 9296 Sunday's Child
Cacophony SKELP CD001 Live At Leeds
Island ILCID 9484 So Far, So Good a)
Island ILCID 9492 One World
Island ILCID 9560 Grace And Danger
Island ILCID 9715 The Electric John Martyn
Castle DOJOCD26 Philentropy
Island ILCID 9779 Sapphire
Island ILCID 9807 Piece By Piece
Permanent PERM CD1 The Apprentice
Permanent PERM CD4 Cooltide
Windsong WINCD 012 BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
? No Little Boy
Island 314 522 245-2 Sweet Little Mysteries: The Island Anthology
U.S. Album Discography
Warners WS 1854 Stormbringer
Warners WS 1882 The Road To Ruin
Island SMAS 9311 Bless The Weather
Island SMAS 9325 Solid Air
Island SMAS 9335 Inside Out
Island SMAS 9296 Sunday's Child
Island SMAS 9484 So Far, So Good
Island SMAS 9492 One World
Island SMAS 9560 Grace And Danger
WEA K 99178 Glorious Fool
WEA K 99255 Well Kept Secret b)
Island 90507-1 Piece By Piece
Island 422-825 788-2 Piece By Piece
Island 7 90853-2 Foundations
Permanent PERM CD1 The Apprentice
Permanent PERM CD4 Cooltide
Mesa R2 79057 No Little Boy
Island 314 522 245-2 Sweet Little Mysteries: The Island Anthology
a) sitenote: The CD release for So Far So Good is corrupt.
b) sitenote: He missed Sapphire, which also had a US release (Island 90248-1).
The feature concluded with a kind of definitive compact cassette for Electric Folk: the Home Taping Project. John was recommended for side 2, track 2, in the following words:
2. JOHN MARTYN - 'Fine Lines' (3:43)
UK LP Inside out Island 92532. From the days of dope and roses, another shining example of the singer-songwriter who could flit from tradition to raging, unearthly blues in the snap of a guitar string. And his own material wasn't too shabby, either, as this shows.
DISCoveries (oh what a pun) was a US newspaper monthly magazine "For record & CD collectors" published by Antique Trader Publications in Dubuque, Iowa (ISSN 0896-8322). This issue originally cost $ 2.50. The Electric Folk feature also consisted of two stories on Fairport Convention (by Chris Nickson) and Steeleye Span (by Dave Thompson). John's story was illustrated with the Lanarkshire promo photo with the sheep.