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John Martyn - Ain't No Saint CD (album) cover

AIN'T NO SAINT

John Martyn

 

Prog Folk

4.05 | 2 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Matti
4 stars John Martyn started as an acoustic folkie in the latter half of the 60's, later on his music has included jazzy, bluesy, rocky, proggy and even funky elements. Despite this versatility he always sounds genuinely himself. 40 years is a long time making music. Four discs can easily run out when one tries to summarize John Martyn's career. This set seems to be designed to Martyn fans rather than those not yet very familiar with his discography. And that is a negative remark at first, but the contents are rewarding after all. I just missed more informative discographic details: I had to use All Music Guide in order to find out the source albums to each song. Even before finding out that fault, the notions that discs 3 and 4 are previously unreleased live recordings and also discs 1 and 2 contain a huge amount of tracks marked as Previously Unreleased, made the whole package somehow untempting to be borrowed from the library (of Tampere, my neighbour town). Well, you may find this attitude strange, but in my experience collector-oriented compilations can be really frustrating. The concert sound may be messy and also the unreleased studio tracks can be some f***ing demos with low sound quality, etc.

This one was very good listening experience though. The live material was of high quality and there were no seedy demos. Even a newcomer doesn't need to be doubtful. Prev. unreleased non-live tracks include e.g. studio out-takes. The most interesting one was a song 'Anna' for a film called In Search Of Anna, released as a single only in Australia. The compiler John Hillarby has chosen one track from each studio album (what a waste leaving discographic details out!), and everything runs in chronological order from the 1967 debut to albums released in early 2000's, and on live CD's from a performance of 'Bless The Weather' in 1973 to 'Over The Hill' from a concert in 2008. The last disc is mostly dating from the nineties and recorded for various BBC television or radio programmes.

The essays, or what do you call them, are rather shapeless and tiresome to read; again it all tastes like made for a Martyn connoisseur. It's a relief that this set was released before John Martyn passed away in 2009, because now at least the text avoids overwhelming pathos. The box itself is a handy 19-centimetre high with the 38-page booklet tied inside, but otherwise the way of represention leaves several wishes. But for the luxorious and for the most part interesting contents this deserves four stars as a definitive Martyn compilation.

Matti | 4/5 |

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