Prompted by the release of a career-retrospective boxed set, Johnny Black talks four decades' music making with John Martyn
Whatever there was in the water at Cousins -heart of 60s London's folk music happenings- it was potent stuff that helped spawn a scene.
UNCUT: What do you think of the anthology?
JOHN MARTYN: I haven't heard it... I keep as far away from all that stuff, man. As soon as I've finished it, it's gone. I love playing live, you know? It's actually a stricter discipline than being in the studio, because you only get one shot at the gig, whereas in the studio you get loads of shots.
Album: John Martyn, Ain't No Saint (Island)
Reviewed by Nick Coleman
Four discs, two live, two studio, the latter comprising 34 songs, a dozen of which are unreleased – a decent enough way to reflect on an extraordinary career on the eve of the artist's 60th birthday.
Next Thursday, John Martyn – the legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist – turns 60. It is a landmark many thought he’d never reach.
The Bottom Line:
40 years of John Martyn.
Forty years of living life to its fullest has supplied John Martyn his fair share of both high and low points - the past 12 months alone have seen the singer/songwriter recieve a wealth of awards and also contract pneumonia. But with an array of remasters and a new studio album in the pipeline, the future looks positively rosy for the evergreen star.
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Pro: One of the most influential and innovative folk musicians of the 1970s, Martyn introduced elements of jazz and blues into his sound: without his classic albums Bless The Weather and Solid Air, it's arguable that there'd be no Tunng, Four Tet or even Portishead.
Con: He's also responsible for the plague of guitar-tapping, loop-pedal-wielding idiots who batter our ears in the name of folk. Thanks, Mr Martyn, for Newton Faulkner.