New York, Max's Kansas City, Mar 1973

14 Apr 1973
Sam Sutherland
Rick Roberts
John Martyn
Max's Kansas City, New York

Two solo performers, one treading familiar country rock paths, the other striking out for new musical ground, provided an evening of strong contrasts for Max's audiences.

Rick Roberts is best known for his work with the Flying Burrito Brothers. Now recording as a solo act for A&M, he is an easy-going performer offering comfortable, rather familiar images in a country context.

Co-billed with Roberts was John Martyn, a native of Glasgow and a fixture on the English folk circuit for some years who enjoyed some exposure here as a duo with wife Beverley.

Martyn has returned to his solo career with Island Records, having moved well beyond his original blues and folk stylings toward a much more ambitious fusion of modal folk and blues with fluid rhythmic and emotional ideas inspired by his love of jazz.

The results are startling. His guitar work, on acoustic guitar and amplified acoustic with wah-wah pedal and echoplex, is extraordinary, extracting harmonic subtleties from those electronic devices that considerably exalt those effects; his voice has acquired a new strength and sense of confidence reflected in his impressionistic phrasing and smoky sense of texture; his sense of humor immediately defeats any pretension.

Best of all, his abilities as a writer lie not in deft artifice or jabs to the solar plexus, but in simple, evocative songs that are alternately warm and moving, vividly menacing, gently humorous. His sets at Max's drew primarily from his most recent Island LP's Bless The Weather and Solid Air.

At present, Martyn is stunning his audiences. Hopefully, those legions will grow, for his aspirations are obviously great.


This review was published in Billboard of 14 April 1973 in the Talent In Action section. The date of the concert is as yet unknown. Another review from Cash Box states that the gig took place with John 'having recently completed a U.S. tour with Traffic', so most likely it happened later than 24 March.