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John Martyn - John & Beverley Martyn: The Road To Ruin CD (album) cover


John Martyn


Prog Folk

3.14 | 15 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Second and last album with wife Beverley née Kutner, Road To Ruin is also counted as the fourth album in Martyn's "solo" career, even if it might overlook a tad Bev's contributions on these two albums. The couple was still living in the Woodstock area and more on TRTR than on Stormbringer, this shows and influences the sound. Coming with a 19th century artwork, Road To Ruin is the logical continuity of Stormbringer, but brings the duo too often on country grounds instead of remaining folk. It should be noted that it was John who resisted the solo trail and insisted on making this second album, despite having much praise. He probably regretted his decision during the recording in late spring 70, as it was obvious that Joe Boyd and him did not see eye to eye on production value.

Opening on Primrose Hill, a short commercial Beverley-sung (and written by) track that also present a rare sax and Harris's ever present piano, we're into fully electrified folk rock, while Parcels is a sweeter more acoustic folk track sung and written by John, thus giving two different tones. Both of these tones will meet on the superb 6-mins Auntie Aviator where Beverley's voice and Harris' piano draws chills in our spines, but this is nothing compared to John's incredible aerial electric guitar solo and a certain amount of sustain note, enhanced by his Echoplex pedal effect. The flute-laden (by ex soft Machine Lynn Dobson) New Day follows, the first to feature also the double-bass king Danny Thompson. Although a cover, Give Us A Ring (intended at nick drake apparently) is more aligned with Bev's style (a tad more country-ish), but it's John singing.

The flipside is fairly different, much harder rocking (all things relative of course) with the downright country-ish Sorry To Be So Long, complete with sax, jew's harp. The same can be said of Say What You can, and it's no surprise these tracks were co-written and represent more Bev's side of things. While John's Tree Green comes back to his LC days, it's also filled with slide guitar. The 6-mins+ title track closes the album is an almost-normal Martyn fashion, with him almost solo for the first two minutes, before bongos and piano pick up and again a sax (actually two here) as the track takes on a Traffic feel and give a bit of Live At Leeds jamming-feel.

The remastered version comes with added live picture of the couple, some cool liner notes and one bonus track, Here I Am, which fits relatively bad with the album as it's the hardest rocking track of the album, even though it's from the end of the RTR recording session. While the logical continuation of Stormbringer, it's clear the Road To Ruin is digressing from Martyn's normal progression trail, yet it sufficiently influenced him in his career that even though not essential to his discography, it's still a solid foundation stone to Martyn's adventures.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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