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JOHN MARTYN

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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John Martyn biography
Like a vast majority of 60?s UK folk artistes (such as INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, STRING DRIVEN THING, DONOVAN, The PENTANGLE, Jethro Tull's IAN ANDERSON, etc.), John Martyn (Born Iaian David McGeachy), grew up in Scotland and by the age of 15 took up the guitar and by the time he'd finished school, he had started to play folk music in Glaswegian pubs. Taking influences from DAVID GRAHAM and getting friendly with ISB's Clive Palmer, he soon found his own style, which brought him to Island label?s boss Chris Blackwell?s ears and earned him a recording deal.

Martyn's first two albums London Conversations and The Tumbler are about as straight folk and folk rock as you can get and were both recorded under Joe Boyd's tutelage, and it is through him he met singer Beverly Kutner. She would quickly become Mrs Martyn and they recorded together two albums, which are essential in Martyn's instrumental progression. Both Stormbringer and Road To Ruin have their own duo charm, but also hold the first hints of the future soundscape of John Martyn.

Ending his musical partnership with Beverley (she'd still write a few lyrics and make the odd appearance in coming album) after the birth of their second child and returning to the UK (Hastings, Kent), John Martyn's musical realm took another giant step with the stunning Bless The Weather. Indeed Beverley?s acoustic guitar strumming had allowed him to pick up the electric guitar and he became enamoured with the pedal effects (but also daring 'electrify' his songwriting), especially one that would make his guitar sound famous, the Echoplex. With BTW, Martyn proposed us a blend of folk, blues and jazz, that can only maybe compared with Tim Buckley around Happy Sad or Lorca, even if the latter's vocal prowess made him unique as Martyn's Echoplex. With the stunning Inside Out and the career-defining Solid Air, John Martyn developed an incredible sound, helped by the former PENTANGLE bassist Danny Thompson, one of the best and most recognizable bass paw in the genre. With the less-successful Sunday's Child in 74, Martyn's new studio recording, he would eventually decrease the frequency of album releases. Unfortunately he was prone to excessive drinking and substance abuse even this soon in his career), which caused his erratic behaviour, and later growing health problems often having to cancel gigs with no notice. One of the couple's friends was Nick Drake (also a Joe Boyd pupil) whose own suicide proved detrimental t...
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JOHN MARTYN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JOHN MARTYN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.22 | 14 ratings
London Conversation
1967
3.91 | 11 ratings
The Tumbler
1968
3.19 | 15 ratings
Stormbringer!
1970
3.15 | 13 ratings
The Road To Ruin
1970
4.00 | 31 ratings
Bless The Weather
1971
3.86 | 24 ratings
Inside Out
1973
4.02 | 49 ratings
Solid Air
1973
3.14 | 18 ratings
Sunday's Child
1975
3.51 | 23 ratings
One World
1977
3.56 | 21 ratings
Grace And Danger
1980
3.08 | 12 ratings
Glorious Fool
1981
3.36 | 11 ratings
Well Kept Secret
1982
2.83 | 10 ratings
Sapphire
1984
2.98 | 13 ratings
Piece by Piece
1986
3.71 | 7 ratings
The Apprentice
1990
3.67 | 6 ratings
Cooltide
1991
1.33 | 5 ratings
Couldn't Love You More
1992
2.80 | 5 ratings
No Little Boy
1993
3.00 | 2 ratings
And
1996
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Church With One Bell
1998
3.67 | 3 ratings
Glasgow Walker
2000
3.80 | 5 ratings
On the Cobbles
2004
3.71 | 7 ratings
Heaven and Earth
2011

JOHN MARTYN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 10 ratings
Live At Leeds
1976
3.50 | 4 ratings
Philentropy
1983
3.96 | 5 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
1992
3.00 | 2 ratings
Live
1995
4.00 | 2 ratings
Germany 1986
2001
4.00 | 2 ratings
On Air: John Martyn
2006
3.14 | 3 ratings
In Session At the BBC
2006
4.00 | 2 ratings
BBC Live In Concert
2007

JOHN MARTYN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 2 ratings
John Martyn At The BBC
2006

JOHN MARTYN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.67 | 3 ratings
Sweet Little Mysteries: The Island Anthology
1994
4.05 | 2 ratings
Ain't No Saint
2008

JOHN MARTYN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

JOHN MARTYN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 One World by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.51 | 23 ratings

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One World
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

4 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).

 Solid Air by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.02 | 49 ratings

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Solid Air
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars John Martyn - Solid Air (1973)

It took me a couple of listens, but I can now confirm this is a special slightly progressive folk-rock record with jazz- rock leanings. The thing is, I usually don't listen to introverted sounding artists. John Martyn's music is defenitely artistic, but it sound a bit to background music to my ears. A function I have come to like a bit more since friends do like this kind music.

John Martyn has a gentle voice that is relatively soft in the mix of guitars, drums, bass and piano. All songs have their own sound-pallet with destinctive settings for guitar en keyboard. The power of the record is in the subtle interventions and atmospheric feel. I must admit I find some songs a bit repetitive. The production is quite excellent and modern for its time.

Conclusion. The lable folk-rock might attract listeners who expect something quite different, I'd rather think of 'Solid Air' as an artistic introverted soulrecord with some folkinstruments. Three-and-a-halve stars.

 Solid Air by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.02 | 49 ratings

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Solid Air
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by RussellChap

4 stars One of the albums I own that keeps drawing me back is John Martyn's 1973 album Solid Air. This magnificent record is suffused with irradiated liquid folk but also holds hidden, dark undercurrents within. The pleasure this album gives never evaporates even after repeated listening, which have been many as I bought it in 1991, in the days before mp3 and downloads when you had to visit a record shop (yes really).

Throughout John Martyn sings with a lazy warmth sometimes loving, other times carnal, there are moments when his voice oozes as if it's melting, the words becoming onomatopoeic. His guitar, fed through his echoplex (a tape delay device which allowed him to sustain notes), is similarity fluid, all heat haze scintillation and smoky scrolls. Particularly on the Skip James song 'I'd rather Be The Devil' which has the same vibe as Jimi Hendrix's aqueous '1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)'. He is ably supported by the great Danny Thompson on bass, providing a supple backbone, who was a great friend of john Martyn playing on many of his albums as well as being a stalwart member of folk rockers Pentangle.

Although released in the seventies tracks like 'Dreams By The Sea' (which is full paranoia and suspicion "Dreaming you've got a lover/Dreaming that there's a killer in your eyes"), the aforementioned 'I'd rather Be The Devil' and title track 'Solid Air' (about the late Nick Drake "I know you/I love you and I can be your friend/I can follow you anywhere even through solid air"), have a timeless and place-less quality. Maybe that's why I never get tired of Solid Air. It keeps returning like waves lapping a shore.

 Solid Air by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.02 | 49 ratings

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Solid Air
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

5 stars Solid Air is an album that puts on display many of the directions available to folk artists.

The album's opener, "Solid Air" (5:46) (9/10) with its xylophone accompaniment shows a very jazzy side.

2. "Over the Hill" (2:51) (9/10) is very bluegrass with its prominent RICHARD THOMPSON (FAIRPORT CONVENTION) mandolin contribution.

3. "Don't Want to Know" (3:01) (7/10) with its fully electrified rock band bleeds into

4. "I'd Rather Be the Devil (Devil Got My Women)" (6:19) (9/10) which is a kind of Beat/bluesy bebop jam.

5. "Go Down Easy" (3:36) (9/10) is one of those timeless STEVE WINWOOD-like beauties that wrenches the heart in a JEWEL-kind of way. Definitely a folk classic.

6. "Dreams by the Sea" (3:18) (9/10) puts a funky BRIAN AUGER-like vibe in your face. Very tight instrumental support from his support band.

7. "May You Never" (3:43) (8/10) is a guitar and voice solo song that became one of Martyn's signature songs and had the distinction of being covered by Eric Clapton four years later on his Slowhand album.

8. "The Man in the Station" (2:54) (9/10) is an edgy song that vacillates between quiet guitar and electronic keyboard to bluesy rock band to great effect. There is also an odd tension of jazz and Latin feel to the song. One of my favorites.

9. "The Easy Blues" (3:22) (7/10) is a very straightforward acoustic blues song in the vein of Robert Johnson and other Southern rockers. A shout out to bassist Danny Thompson for his wonderful contributions.

In my opinion, John Martyn is one of the unsung masters of the prog folk subgenre--and he produced high quality music over the course of a very long career--one in which he continued playing live performances up until just two months before his death in 2009--and one in which he put out over 20 studio albums and over 40 live recordings! Though the Echoplex guitar effects are not heard or used much, John remained fond of the sound throughout his career. I guess the Echoplex sound is one that runs hit or miss with music fans. I personally love it. The John Martyn studio sound is so warm and intimate and Solid Air remains one of my favorite John Martyn albums though it came out over 40 years ago. It makes me wish I had attended one of his concerts. At least we have DVDs to remember him with. This is most definitely a masterpiece of Progressive Folk music.

 Piece by Piece by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.98 | 13 ratings

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Piece by Piece
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars ...and so the 80's grooved along. Keyboards and stuff. Hang on, I don't mean to be patronising. Yes, i do think Martyn was at his best between 1970-1980 but that does not mean I'm not hopelessly in love with all of his output. The love differs in passion, though. That's all.

When I bought this album I was heavily into Martyn's earlier works, alongside other folky stuff. You know, Pentangle and all that earthy bulk of musical history. I had no intention of loving this album when I put it on. I had foolishly decided against it before even given it a chance. How silly!

Piece by piece is actually a very good album. There is not much to complain about. As with it's predecessor it holds some good moments and a few great ones. The title track, "Serendipity" and the live classic "John Wayne" are outstaning pieces of music. While the first two are very much of it's time, "John Wayne" is a very powerful, almost hard rock track, though dressed in a slick and for the 1980's very appropriate overcoat. I have always found Martyn's excursions into rock music to be so and so but here it works very well indeed. If potent in it's studio version, it is omnipotent live. Check it out, why don't you?

When all is said and done Piece by piece remains one of Martyn's more forgotten output, alongside most of his post 70's albums. That is a shame. I think that music should be judged by it's own merits rather than by comparison. So, this album may not be as fully enjoyable as, say. Solid air but it is a good album. Not the best way to start if you are interested in the man's music but when you have gone through his more classic works, stop by this saloon and have a whiff of this. It is quite enjoyable.

 Sapphire by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.83 | 10 ratings

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Sapphire
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I have a special love for John Martyn and his music. He was truly progressive in his genre, though shifting more towards contemporary, slick pop in the early 80's. His music had these jazzy overtones I find appealing. Though he did not always hit the mark, when he did it was magic. Pure magic.

Sapphire was released in the year of 1984. By this time Martyn's music was ever so electronic and synthezised that little remained of his folky past. That is in itself not necessarily a bad thing, just different. When he released "Grace and danger" in 1980 he was spot on and that album remains very dear to me. By 1984 the result was good but not great. Musically Martyn is as professional as ever but the material is not that amazing, though some very good.

The title track starts the album off very well, followed by what is actually a very good cover of "Over the rainbow". The best pieces are "Fisherman's dream" and the magnificent "Mad dog days". The latter is a favorite of mine for several reasons but mainly because it is a great song. "Acid rain" is a sort of ecology-themed track and one that is good aswell.

There are not any bad tracks on Sapphire, which in some ways makes it a really cohesive album. The standouts, though, are not that many in numbers. The album is, however, a charming oddity or testament to a musician's need and willingness to change and progress. By no means his best album it is a great piece of work, solid and well performed. I think it could be that the album has aged not that gracefully, as some albums do. Or maybe it's just that it is an okay album and that is good enough. I like it, anyway. Give it a go. It won't kill you.

 Bless The Weather by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.00 | 31 ratings

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Bless The Weather
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars John Martyn's Bless the Weather doesn't quite have a sound as compelling as the stark minimalism of Solid Air (in particular, the jazz influences on Martyn's music haven't really manifested yet), nor does it have any compositions which stand out quite as much as the subsequent album's title track, but it's still enjoyable as a folk album in its own right and offers a fascinating insight into the early development of the guitar techniques and vocal stylings which would come together so effectively on Solid Air. Whilst subsequent work would win him more attention, folk listeners would be well advised not to overlook Bless the Weather.
 Piece by Piece by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.98 | 13 ratings

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Piece by Piece
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by gr8dane

3 stars My introduction to John Martyn was when Angeline got airplay, when this album was released. Heard it a couple of times before it became an album or artist, that I wanted to become familiar with.So it grew on me yes,and I bought the album.

Ended up getting Piece by Piece and was not disappointed,as most songs of the album carry a similar sound.

Didn't know of Martyn's earlier discography ,so I could obviously not analyze and compare, with the likes of Solid Air and others.

As I became a CD buyer at the time and my turntable broke down,years and years went by without me hearing this.Now thankfully I-Tunes has made it available and I re-purchased it.

So,at the time,Martyn and/or the record company wanted more mass appeal and made a more accessible album,sorta like something Bryan Ferry would come up with.I think he is doing this very well.

The first song is an odd one.Nightline is like The song Manifesto from the album of the same name by Roxy Music.Strange song that makes you wonder what the hell is going on.Now the real good songs will start.Outstanding songs in the pop'ish vein with lots of synths for atmospherics.Yes, like Roxy and Ferry were masters of. 7 songs of that caliber follows and are very enjoyable.Only one of those songs will have noticeable guitar, that I now know he is capable of,and be superb at. Album ends with the song John Wayne ,that I find rather odd.It is supposedly a fan favourite.

So.....Song one and nine are 2 **.Most of the other 7 songs are to me 4*'s easy.Now there is obviously not much prog here,and I will rate this album 3*'s,but to me this is a 4* album,as I have no problem with prog artists making quality 'pop'.

As I always say.I rather have 'pop' music by prog musicians,than no music at all.

 Solid Air by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.02 | 49 ratings

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Solid Air
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars John Martyn's Solid Air reminds me of what would happen if you combined the intimate chamber folk of Nick Drake with the murky, slightly inebriated atmosphere of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, then added some jazz sensibilities to the mix. The Drake connection, it turns out, is no coincidence - the title track's a tribute to Nick, though as with Drake's own material it's sufficiently lyrically obtuse that I suspect only Martyn and Drake ever knew the real meanin go the song - but the connections to the rest of the British folk scene don't stop there, with various folk luminaries including Richard Thompson serving in Martyn's backing band. The focus, however, is almost always in Martyn's touching vocals, which are able to command the listener's unceasing attention.
 Grace And Danger by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.56 | 21 ratings

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Grace And Danger
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What you need to rememeber is that Grace and danger isnot what you would call prog-folk. It's rather a turn for a more radio friendly, 80's-sound. Slick, groovy stuff which on the surface seems poppy enough but underneath it all lurks the beast of a divorce and bitter break-up from his then wife Beverley. The lyrics, at the time deemed too grimand depressing, are actually a very good description of the pains and emotions running amok when hearts used to beat as one suddenly tear themselves apart.

For me this is a really cohesive album with lots and lots of great tunes. In fact, this is a surprisingly solid affair, considering the times it was written. All songs are great but it's the last five that really hits the spot. Great, moving pieces filled with amazing musical and vocal deliverance. If you like me love the works of Martyn Grace and danger is a must but if you've only just discovered him you'd be better off trying anyone of the classic like Solid air.

Thanks to sean trane for the artist addition.

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