Put this disc on the player and ask your friend who claims to know music from A to Z to guess who it is. Of course this friend has to know who John Martyn is (the British folkie who's been around since the late 60s), or it doesn't count.
Martyn's latest -his tenth and his first in three years- is quite an unsettling surprise. Martyn just does not sound like Martyn, even on the best cuts such as Certain Surprise, with its nice soft trombone by Rico, and Followed By Dancing [sic], which features Steve Winwood's keyboards and four members of Fairport. Granted, Martyn's not the kind of guy who rehashes very much and he's been experimenting with reggae producer Lee Perry. But there's a lot of unexpected jazz, and cuts like Smiling Stranger and Dealer Blues [sic] drag on and on. Still, it's hard to underrate Martyn or knock this album.
Susan Fails. And wondering where the jazz is.. Perhaps Ry Cooder's Jazz album, which was printed next to John's in the same column, interfered.
This American review must have been done over the phone and was published in The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) of Saturday 10 June 1978.