I HAVEN'T seen John Martyn since his 1984 Glastonbury set and things seem to have changed on stage since then.1
The effect, sadly, is to leave Martyn in the spotlight but simultaneously emasculate him. Gone is the powerful solitude of his presence. Gone, too, are the endearing images of an intoxicated crooner trying to come to terms with himself and those dear to him. With his competent but characterless backing group we have a bunch of mates treading the boards of the Town and Country Club and clearly pleasing an undiscerning crowd. As they clap and cheer they fail to see, for instance, the tragic dilution and overexposure of such a powerful song as May You Never. As they applaud the final chords of Mad Dog Days (which, with John Wayne and Over The Rainbow provide the only justifiable inclusions on the album) they do so more because it's dedicated to Mrs T than because it's actually a brilliant song.2 For this tune alone I might be tempted to buy the record but on the evidence of Foundations as a whole I feel fortunate not to have been there when it was recorded.
1 The Glastonbury show took place 24 June 1984.
2 At the end of Mad Dog Days, John says "Never get used to you... that's for dear Mrs Thatcher".
This review was published in the New Musical Express of 31 October 1987. Material provided by John Neil Munro.