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John Martyn - Solid Air CD (album) cover

SOLID AIR

John Martyn

 

Prog Folk

4.01 | 61 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!!

John Martyn's Solid Air is certainly his best known album and generally acclaimed as his best album, even if there is a crowd to contest that his later 70's albums were better (OW and G&D). I'm of the first school, even if I prefer Outside In even more. Solid Air is somewhat of an anomaly in Martyn's discography for its sleeve artwork is an abstract hand moving through matter, instead of the usual self-portrait.

Obviously the beauty of this album is represented by its title track, a superb slow emotive track about one of Martyn's closest friends,, the folk songwriter Nick Drake who was going through a severe and constant depression and would end up dying from an overdose of drugs (legit or not) the following year. Funnily enough, John Martyn's trademark Echoplex is not present as the track is mostly an acoustic guitar over Danny Thompson's sumptuous contrabass line and an amazing vibraphone, Martyn's haunting lyrics are simply spine-chilling. Of course the title track is not the only pyre beauty on this album, as Don't Wanna Know is starting very much in the same mould, but finally settles in a mid-tempo where Fender Rhodes, vibes and multi-layered vocals abound. The much faster Rather Be The Devil is quite a different beast and sees the Echoplex getting some action on Martyn's excellent and unusual guitar grunts as later on, the track veers into slow jam and ultimately its death. Grandiose as well. Other tracks like Go Down Easy are more straight forward and shows John in, if not joyful, at least in a soulful mood. Dreams By The Sea is a red hot track that sizzles on the beachside and features some wild guitar, a n excellent sax solo from Tony Coe. Another stand-out track is Man at The Station, where the Fender Rhodes guides the up-beat song into excellent breaks and changeovers.

Solid Air is generally considered as Martyn's top achievement by almost everyone, with the exception of a pro-Collins faction, who will find that the early 80's trilogy is his best moment. I'll let you the sole judge, though between the obvious Outside's Solid Weather trilogy of the early 70's and the Collins ?produced Grace-Glorious-Secret trilogy of the early 80's?.. No contest, right. Martyn's testament lays somewhere on this disc.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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