Glorious Fool

JOHN MARTYN: Glorious Fool.

JOHN MARTYWS twelth album, his first with Warners and his first with a band. The glorious fool continues to go his own way with little or no regard to the dictates of fashion, business or anything else besides. Phil Collins produces and plays drums, the latter inventively and with authority, the former with a skill that tends towards ‘Couldn’t Love You More’.

Thanks to Collins and thanks to the band, “Glorious Fool’ bursts with a confidence sometimes lacking on previous albums. Martyn himself has never lacked the necessary but as a solo artist his albums have often sounded dressed from the outside – the backing here ain’t backing, it’s integral, band music. Yet Martyn’s personality and particular style dominates throughout as he rings his conventional changes round the love scale.

For a man committed to changes and the forward motion, Martyn has a tendency to divide his music into regular boxes, a ballad (“Hold On My Heart”), a dance number (‘Perject Hustler’) and some groaning funk (“Amsterdam’). Yet for all these recognisable repetitions, it would be churlish to complain because this remains one of the most genuinely passionate records of the year. While most singer-songwriters are content to deal in wimpery and nostalgia, Martyn continues to attack emotion and sex head on; when he funks, he funks, pleading, groaning, begging or commanding, the emotion here is as naked as it gets. Full marks to John then for being John and following his muse, the old charmer. + + + +

Mark Cooper
1 October 1981