Martyn’s One World
Now this is a beauty. At first appearances, One World is not standard Martyn fare, glossy cover and a slick production job. But it’s a very warm, full-sounding album, feels synonymous with an armchair before an open fire, somewhat stoned, keeping the cold winter at bay.
The first side kicks off with ‘Couldn’t Love You More’, a powerful ballad of unrequited love, slightly softened by Stevie Winwood’s tinkling organ and Martyn’s added high note on the ‘move’. ‘Certain Surprise’ is a rich rolling love song, with lush orchestration and Rico trombone solo. Then there’s ‘Dancing’ with its swirling rhythm and infectious melody celebrating rocking and rolling the night away.
‘Small Hours’ concludes, with a late-night feel. Slight background percussion blends to give an intimate feel with whirring hypnotic guitar leading into a brief slurred lyric, ‘Keep on loving till your love is gone, keep on loving till your love is strong, all the way’ – a long haunting story piece which takes your right out of it all. Perhaps it should have closed the album.
After these four love songs, side 2 diversifies with the angry attack of ‘The Dealer’, the fierce attractive reggae number ‘Big Muff’ and the dramatic ‘Smiling Stranger’ which reiterates the recurrent Martyn message, ‘Love is coming just as soon as we think it will’. My real delight is the title track though, here with a very ethereal fragile feel, it fades, with a breathy wail, into the lusty melody, a paean to universal brotherhood and a yearning plea to come to terms with life, ‘to take our place in one world’, a heady floating song.
Immerse yourself in One World – a rich treat.
24 January 1978