John Martyn : Well-Kept Secret (WEA).
Another individualist, singer and songwriter who has been around for years but still turns in intriguing and very different albums. Martyn started on the folk scene, but now takes a very special place in the more sophisticated British rock mainstream. His last album, produced by Phil Collins of Genesis, was his most lush and musically elaborate to date, but he describes this one as "more gutsy, based on Sixties Rhythm and Blues, the Tamla recordings, and early rock'n'roll."
That's not strictly true of all the album. There are some smooth, Philly-influenced ballads on the second side. But the best songs are direct and powerfully straightforward, from the bitter Could've Been Me and Livin' Alone to the pounding Gun Money and up-tempo Love Up. Martyn still fits into no easy category; but simply writes good songs, and as his voice sounds gradually less nasal he deserves his still-widening following.
This review was published in The Guardian of Friday 10 September 1982.