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John Martyn - John & Beverley Martyn: Stormbringer ! CD (album) cover

JOHN & BEVERLEY MARTYN: STORMBRINGER !

John Martyn

 

Prog Folk

3.26 | 19 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Martyn's first album with his wife Beverley née Kutner in tow, after two "solo" albums, Stormbringer does have the merit to have John evolve his musical realm into a rockier atmosphere. Beverley was no amateur as she'd already worked with producer Joe Boyd, appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 67, she was a friend of Paul Simon and a London "local glory" and they met in Jan 69 and married fairly quickly. An American deal was worked out and the couple crossed the Atlantic in the summer of that year and located , right around the Woodstock area, where Dylan and Hendrix had rentals, and this US move does make itself heard on the two albums the couple made, thus explaining the presence of US back-up musicians. This should be one of Joe Boyd's first production job in the US, after his own crossing the Atlantic to return home after five years in the swinging London, but apparently Paul Harris (The Doors) had as much to do with this album's production as he also played keyboards and wrote the arrangements. There are three drummers (including the Band's Levon Helm and Zappa's Billy Mundi) and Harvey brooks on electric bass. Released in Feb 70, and armed with a stupendously romantic artwork, John & Bev look like the ideal hippie couple, but surely this wouldn't last long, as John's heavy leanings for hard liquor and other substances would not have the most pleasant side effects on his entourage and himself.

Starting on the country-ish Go Out And Get It, it's quite clear this album will be electric as Paul Harris plays on the electric piano, but it's mostly Bev's acoustic strumming that will allow John to pick up his electric guitar and start playing with pedals, the echoplex soon coming in the picture. Following the string-laden Can't Get The One I Want (sung by Bev), the first highlight is the amazing title track, where plenty of superb synth layers and enough drama to make it interesting for progheads. The lengthy Sweet Honesty (an 8-mins blues) is another highlight, where Beverley takes on lead singer to great effects. Be still though, the coming Woodstock is not Joni's song, but John & Bev's as they at least appeared in the three day feast, unlike Joni. It goes back to his debut album, stylistically speaking.

The flipside doesn't bring much different as The Ocean is very reminiscent of "Can't Get", while Traffic Light Lady has an ISB feel. But better than these two tracks are Tomorrow Time (an interesting track, and has the curiosity of having the What's The Story, Morning Glory?), and the good John The Baptist. Obviously the best was left until the end, and the lengthy Would You Believe Me announces the future John Martyn and his wild guitar effects, moody vocals and occasional time sigs and tempo changes.

It is the custom to count this album as John's third album in his "solo" career, maybe overlooking Bev's presence or contributions, and of course the upcoming Road To Ruin will get counted as his fourth. Both albums proudly stands in Martyn's discography as entire setting stone to his evolution and it's almost inconceivable jumping from Tumbler to Weather, without listening to these two excellent but not all-that-essential albums. For some reasons Stormbringer failed to chart on either side of the Atlantic, but this is most likely due to extreme abundance of folk albums on the market.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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