01 Feb 1981
Jeff Allen, Drums
Jeff is a leading session drummer whose credits read like a who's who of the record business. Formerly in East of Eden for four years he went on to play with Bonnie Tyler, Barbara Dickson, B.A. Robertson and on literally hundreds of records.
Danny Cummings, Percussion
Introduced to John by Tommy Eyre of the Grease Band, Danny is a top session player who has played with Linx, Level 42, and Central Line.
Max Middleton, Keyboards
Max was with the Jeff Beck Band for 5 years and was featured on 4 of the band's LPs. He also held down the keyboard role on albums by Beck, Bogart and Appice, and more recently has played on LPs by Hummingbird and Kate Bush.
Alan Thomson, Bass
Alan is a young virtuoso bassist who formed his own band in Glasgow called The Arthur Trout Band. John Martyn's cousin played in the same outfit and when John saw the band he pinched the Bass player. Alan's main influences are Gong, Bill Bruford and Weather Report.
|THE ROAD TO RUIN
|SO FAR SO GOOD
|OCTOBER||23||MANCHESTER Free Trade Hall|
|24||LIVERPOOL Royal Court|
|28||NEWCASTLE City Hall|
|30||POOLE Wessex Hall|
|NOVEMBER||1||LONDON Hammersmith Odeon|
|3||BRISTOL Colston Hall|
|4||OXFORD New Theatre|
|5||GUILDFORD Civic Hall|
|7||SHEFFIELD Lyceum Theatre|
Management: Sandy Roberton/ Paul Brown.
Who can fill a hall with sound using just a guitar and an echoplex? Who wears natty suits, complete with braces? Who has gained ecstatic reviews for every album he has released in the last ten years?
The answer to all these questions is - John Martyn. His new album Glorious Fool will be eagerly awaited by rock fans, not least because producer and drummer is Phil Collins, with whom Martyn collaborated on his last album Grace and Danger, his final album for Island, after an eleven album run with that label.
John Martyn's beginnings were the dear old sixties folk club circuit. He started playing guitar seriously in Glasgow folk clubs when he was sixteen, but inevitably drifted to London and used to play venues like the Kingston Folk Barge in the company of other sixties folk greats like Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. At the age of eighteen he cut his first album for Island, London Conversations [sic], released in May 1968.1 It has several John Martyn self-penned songs, and a good version of the old classic 'Cocaine'. In retrospect it is a naive period piece, though its sleeve notes in good Dylanesque style, are quite entertaining! More interesting is his second album, The Tumbler, released in December 1968. On it, Martyn started to collaborate with other musicians, most notably Harold McNair, an extraordinary flute player who turned John on to wearing the suits which he now always wears on stage.
There was a short silence until 1970, when Martyn released two albums, Stormbringer and Road to Ruin (February, and November release respectively). The first was recorded in Woodstock, New York State, in summer 1969 with Beverley, a solo artist in her own right. John was first her accompanyist, then her collaborator, and then her husband. A strong jazz influence was beginning to creep into John Martyn's work.
The early four albums though, pale into insignificance compared with what happened next. With Bless The Weather (November 1971) and Solid Air (February 1973), John produced two classic albums which identified his style, and -more importantly- introduced him to a greater public. Solid Air, a real ace in the John Martyn pack, continues to sell well to this day. John was, by this time, intrigued with the possibilities of building up layers of sound using an echoplex. 'Glistening Glyndebourne', an eight minute improvisation using these techniques, appeared on Bless The Weather as did the classic love song 'Head And Heart' and a rather cheeky version of 'Singing In The Rain'! Solid Air gave us 'Over The Hill', 'May You Never' - a love song that John still features in his acoustic sets, and of course, 'Solid Air' itself. The sound was just amazing - watery, mysterious, and hypnotic. John Martyn had arrived.
Rather than follow up with a sure-fire commercial album, John embarked upon Inside Out, released in October 1973. The endless layers of sound are infiltrated by a very strong jazz and freeform influence. In retrospect Martyn feels he was overstretching himself -he now sees it as a brave try- but he still uses the title track as a basis for a long improvisation on his stage sets, and it's a number which always receives roars of approval.
The more sedate Sunday's Child followed in January 1975, with a nod in the direction of his folk origins with a beautifully drifting version of 'Spencer The Rover'.
And then in 1977, came the best of the lot, One World. All the music critics proclaimed Martyn as a genius. This was the autumn when London was hit in the mid-riff with punk. But still most critics placed it very high on their 'Best album of the year' charts. The dreamlike 'Small Hours', the stylised mumbly 'Couldn't Love You More', the aggressive rock lick on 'Dealer', the mesmeric guitar rumbling on 'Big Muff' all show Martyn at his best.
In the late seventies John Martyn spent a lot of time in Jamaica, which he has since referred to as being "very hard... a bit like Glasgow transported to paradise." He has always been interested in reggae, and the extraordinary 'Johnny Too Bad' and its dub version sprung from this trip. The track appeared on Grace And Danger, issued in 1980. Island had meanwhile capitalised on Martyn's growing back catalogue by releasing a compilation So Far So Good, which turns out to be a very intelligently chosen selection of Martyn's best old tracks.
Side Two of Grace And Danger is filled with love songs, which were composed as a direct result of John Martyn splitting up with his first wife Beverley. Interestingly, the main guest on the album was Phil Collins, who was also going through the throes of a marriage break-up. The two musicians worked so well together that Phil has also produced John Martyn's latest album, his first for WEA, Glorious Fool.
John Martyn remains one of the greatest and most individual musicians working in Britain. He is willfully eccentric, interviewers have to be really on their toes to deal with his wild sense of humour! - and is still feted by all the music critics on radio and in the press.
Glorious Fool turns out to be a very commercial down-the-line John Martyn album. The album starts out with a re-run of 'Couldn't Love You More' - a much soulier version than the previous on One World. Try 'Amsterdam' for John Martyn at his heaviest, 'Glorious Fool' and 'Pascanel' ('Get Back Home') are typical of the man's style and excellence.
BUMBLE AND THE BEEZ
[Advert: "1st single Fools out now on EMI records."]
Weirdos 'Bumble and the Beez' were formed in January 1981 in London with Michael Riley (ex-Steel Pulse and Headline) - vocals/ percussion and Winston Blissett (ex-Headline) on bass. With the addition of Dan Lee (rhythm guitar), Nick Page (lead guitar) and Simon Walker (violin/ keyboards) Bumble and the Beez began to rehearse and rehearse and look for a drummer. The long search ended when no 'free style' drummer could be found to compliment the music so the band decided to go ahead without a drummer, leaving the rhythm section to Michael Riley on percussion and Simon Walker on violin.
Siouxsie and the Banshees heard a demo tape and gave Bumble and the Beez their very first gig at Hammersmith Palais in February fronting 'hard core Banshees fans'. The reaction was amazing and the experiment 'worked'.
With determination and strong belief, Bumble and the Beez started to gig around the London club circuits attracting the attention and the curiosity of the record companies and the public, the essence of Bumble and the Beez's music being the contents of the lyrics and particularly the different approach to contemporary sound.
EMI Records signed the band on a long term deal in August 1981 and a single is to be released early October entitled 'Fools'.
Photographs by Keith Morris, Anton Corbijn.
1 Actually London Conversation surfaced October 1967.
The original Glorious Fool Tour Program counts 16 pages. John once put an autograph on a copy, on his forehead, adding: "There must be something in here."