22 Jun 2000
We bring you the brightest gems from the dark recesses of the diamond mine of music. This issue: John Martyn.
So why's this 52 year-old Glaswegian so brill?
Because he's continuously ploughed his own furrow. His newly-released Glasgow Walker is a melancholically romantic riposte to his debut 1968 LP London Conversation.
Melancholic. How very unlike John Martyn. So what else has changed?
Well, his voice is even deeper and more slurred. His beard's a tad shaggier and inevitably he's grown a belly, but when this guy and his guitar tune in together he's liquid gold.
So what's he play? Romantic ballads? Reggae?
You know, you're not far wrong. He was black enough to be the first white solo artist signed to Chris Blackwell's Island label in 1967. He started off very folky with his wife Beverley, with whom he made a remarkable album, The Road To Ruin, which included some pretty unusual African beats courtesy of Dudu Pukwana1 and Spear.2 But he ended up more of a late-night smokey jazz man, with a double dose of echoplex.
Solid Air was one helluva record to get stoned to.
John Martyn was very pally with Nick Drake. Solid Air was Martyn's elegy to him after he killed himself.3
Any other names to drop while you're at it?
Well, Phil Collins has produced him, you know. Basically, he's very well respected in the biz.
What do his audiences consistently yell for him to play at gigs?
May You Never, a tender romantic blessing for a loved one; and One World, a true highspot in his career.
So basically, he's God.
Correct. (Gabe Stewart)
■ John Martyn plays Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow on 26 Jun; Gaiety Theatre, Ayr on 27 Jun; and the Liquid Room, Edinburgh on 28 Jun. Glasgow Walker is out now on Independiente.
1 Gabe actually wrote Doo Doo Putwana.
2 No idea what is meant by this. Dudu Pukwana and the Spear was an act under Witchseason management, though.
3 This is nonsense. Solid Air is from early 1973 while Nick passed away 25 November 1974.
This announcement was published in The List 389 of 22 June 2000.