A teenage greenhorn lays the foundation of Island’s folk-rock village. By Jim Irvin.
Debut albums can be a mixed blessing, perhaps a tentative wave hello, a flood of suppressed creative outpourings, or a clearing house for childish guff. They’re most fascinating when they wrong-foot posterity. Who could have extrapolated Radiohead’s In Rainbows from Pablo Honey or Tom Waits’ Mule Variations from Closing Time? Solidly in that subset lies John Martyn’s London Conversation, now back on vinyl (Universal ***). ILP 952, issued in October 1967, was the first release on the new pink Island label, marking the company’s shift from its reggae origins. It’s a jejeune thing – cut, so they say, in a couple of evenings for £158 – that bears almost no resemblance to his mature work, not in the sound or swing of the playing, the tone of his voice or the acuity of the writing. And the whiff of childish guff is strong on opening songRead More