JOHN MARTYN - Glorious Fool (WEA 99 178):
John Martyn's friends are better known than he is but with pals like Eric Clapton and Phil Collins, who needs fame and fortune?
Actually Martyn, a veteran of the British folk scene who moved on to dabble in everything from jazz to reggae, is one of those rare birds who ignores commercial success in favor of experimenting with his own kind of music - and gets away with it.
Of course there's probably hope in the boardrooms of the record world that Martyn's talent will eventually out, that his distinctive style will catch favor with a broad enough cross-section of the record buying public to generate a financial return to match his creative ability.
Meanwhile Martyn continues to put out exceptionally fine albums and Glorious Fool is another gem. There are no hit singles here - though the delightful vocal riffing on Didn't Do That might be catchy enough to give the song an outside chance at chart success.
But forget AM radio. This is a marvellous listening album, something that is sufficiently different from anything else yet seeped in enough familiar sounds to be stimulating and relaxing at the same time.
Smooth and deep, it seems made for listening with the lights on low and yet so finely honed that it's never mushy. In fact, to increase what edge there is to much of this music, one merely has to increase the volume level. The album holds together beautifully at just about any setting.
Collins again contributes both his production and performing talents. His drumming is excellent, definitely a key element to the music, but absolutely superb in Please Fall In Love With Me where it becomes the lead instrument.
Throughout, Martyn's soft, seductive singing is superbly backed by tight musicianship with the horn work of Dick Cuthell a definite treat.
This Canadian column was printed in the Ottawa Citizen of Friday, 23 October 1981. Other reviewed albums were 1984 by Rick Wakeman and Quinella by the Atlanta Rhythm Section.