JOHN MARTYN: And.
Martyn has never really topped his two classic albums, ‘Solid Air’ and ‘One World. The first, made in 1973 after a career as an acoustic folkie singer/ songwriter, was a record that experimented with electric blues, vocal phasing and echo effects and which sounded completely out there: the second he recorded in Jamaica with Lee ‘Scratch Perry producing, and it was completely out there.
After languishing in obscurity over the last few years. Martyn has signed to Go! Discs and made one of his most adventurous albums in ages. Recorded in Chicago with young hip-hop producer Stephan Taylor, this could have been a case of mutton dressed as lamb, but in reality its the injection of fresh ideas that his songs need to take life.
Opening track ‘Sunshines Better’ boasts all his hallmarks: lazy. slurred vocals, occasionally bitter and occasionally oblique lyrics, but allied to an almost Tricky-esgue trip-hop beat and Jan Garbarek-like alto sax. The Downward Pull Of Human Nature’ and ‘Who Are They?’ are equally groundbreaking; you feel that this is the sort of music that Nick Drake would be making, had he lived. Closing track ‘She’s A Lover’ is vintage Martyn – cool arid just a touch angry – and while there’s nothing that will upset the neighbours, it does take some real risks.
1 September 1996