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John Martyn - One World CD (album) cover


John Martyn

Prog Folk

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars After almost three years since his last studio deceiving album Sunday's Child, most of Martyn's fans were expecting pmich of the coming One World. To say the least, the album did not get unanimous acceptance by the fans: those expecting another Solid air were definitely disappointed, however those wanting more accessible tunes were very happy. Indeed Martyn wrote maybe his poppiest album of the 70's, whether Stevie Winwood's presence over most of the tracks, and the gradual disappearance of Danny Thompson (less than half the tracks), but one feels an era has passed, and it won't come back. Winwood himself was in a transitional phase of his cerreer and released his first (excellent) solo album the same year, but it would be another 5 year until the hugely successful (sales-wise anyway) Arc Of A Diver

Don't get fooled by the opening track Dealer, it's not the Traffic track, but a Martyn original that IMHO does make hint at the 68 song. but it's relatively funky and upbeat, a perfect way to start an album, even if the track is only average at best. Much more interesting is the slow title track, where Martyn's echoplex effect pedals are used to great effects under Handsford Rowe's (future Gongzilla) superb round bass. Another winner is Smiling Stranger with Winwood's Arabic strings synths in the background, but again Solid Air is ac distant memory. The didgeridoo-lead Big Muff track features Brand X's Morris Pert on percussions, but the track is not only repetitive, but overstays its welcome by a good three minutes. Not sure if the co-author Lee Perry uses the "Scratch" epithet, but like many tunes f this album, the track is on the limit between funk and reggae.

The flipside sees the return of Danny Thompson on bass, and directly with a bow on the contrabass, Couldn't Love You More is a return to Bless the Weather, but the following Captain Surprise sticks out like a sore thumb, especially the cheesy trad jazz sax solo. You might gas well ship the next Dancing track, to get faster to the album's best piece, the almost 9-mins, the sleep inducing (and aptly titled) Small Hours.

Actually, although this album is often fondly remembered, I personally think that it is of the same accabit as Sunday's Child, possibly even worse of the 70's. The strory doesn't tell you whether Martyn himself was pleased with the album, but it certainly did not prompt him back soon in the studio as the the next (and much betterŕ Grace And Danger wouldn't huit the shops until three years later. As for this one, it certainly is NOT a priority

Report this review (#245715)
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars One World is one of John Martyn's more experimental works. All the albums of his that I've heard have laid-back moods, but possess their own characters. This is quite atmospheric, and the way that Martyn blended his signature rhythmic, echoey guitar sounds with jazzy drumming, funky bass and swirling keyboards over his slurred, bluesy vocals once again made him a true individual.

It's a very strong timeless album that makes superb late-night listening. "Smiling Stranger" and the dub influenced "Big Muff" which was collaborated with Lee Scratch Perry are delightful. Steve Winwood also contributes his keyboards to the album.

"Couldn't Love You More" and "Certain Surprise" are lovely, very melodic pieces and are two favourites along with the dreamy title track, plus "Dancing" which is a really uplifting summer breeze of a song, and last but not least the spacey, ambient "Small Hours".

A lot of the songs were recorded in the early hours and the mood is captured perfectly. I just discovered that it's three years to the day since this artist's passing, but his wonderful music will continue to influence many people. Three and a half stars.

Report this review (#622312)
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One World was a lucky discovery for me at an open air market in the city of Norwich in 1980. In one fell swoop I was introduced to the deeply moving, introspective work of this bluesy folk artist as both Solid Air and One World played over a cheap sound system while I perused the bins of albums and tapes. I bought both. Though One World's "Couldn't Love You More" (3:09) (9/10) was remade in 1981 for the Phil Collins-produced Glorious Fool under the production guidance and instrumental ensemble assistance of one Eric Clapton (featuring Max Middleton, Alan Thompson and drummer Phil Collins in support), the original version remains a favorite of mine. For me the stunning and haunting "Small Hours" (8:44) (10/10) remains the centerpiece and jewel of the album though it is the last song on Side Two. The Echoplex guitar sound--which Martyn hung on to as a signature sound for most of his career--is used to absolute perfection here, with the sound of boats and wooden docks creaking in the water, as if the song was recorded outside.

Other outstanding favorites include: "Dealer" (4:58) (9/10); "One World" (4:10) (9/10); "Big Muff" (6:30) (8/10); the lovely STEPHEN BISHOP-like "Certain Surprise" (3:52) (10/10), and; the delightfully playful "Dancing" (3:43) (9/10).

A minor masterpiece of progressive folk music.

Report this review (#1470076)
Posted Sunday, September 27, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an odd little album that finds John Martyn teaming up with Steve Winwood, whose organ playing adds jazzy, funky accents to Martyn's already typically laid-back sound. The end result is a weirdly sunny-sounding album which sort of resembles a folk rock artist's attempt to figure out what reggae sounded like based only on some rather vague descriptions. A strange mix, yes, but somehow an intoxicatingly catchy one, making this stylistic experiment a resounding success. Despite the fact that it its further outside the usual folk rock sphere than either Bless the Weather or Solid Air, somehow this manages to be the most accessible of Martyn's 1970s works.
Report this review (#1680551)
Posted Monday, January 16, 2017 | Review Permalink

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