Piece By Piece

JOHN MARTYN: Piece By Piece

THE HEART of Martyn is his cocksure self-indulgence, a blush-free bravura that there’s nothing we voyeurs won’t be glad to know about another’s ripped and torn romance. Now that John has secured some contentment, much of this is an old concentrate diluted and decanted even the love pledge of Angeline is a worn slur of wind-pipe, muffed and scaled like an overused singing kettle. The artist has tried to be ‘contemporary’, and at times this means his singular sound hitches up to a meandering Phil Collins wagon train of synthesised reclundance.

Yet much of the cart-load is cool light rock, possessed of effortless charm. When Martyn is moved to speak his mind, he does it so freshly and breathily an accusation makes me want to wrestle, although a typically lazy side one lyric, “Piece by piece were breaking up this love we have… M’s such a tricky situation/It’s hard to see the way that things will go” – amounts to no more than trite speculation.

Serendipity, romantic hogwash about the Right One, nevertheless ranks with the best pieces here (all on the second side), blending a new and clean jazziness and allowing the voice the growling and rolling and roaring room it deserves; Who Believes In Angels tiptoes new territory, a tender soul swoon and lingering loop of lullaby even this cynic could sway to. “Look at me, the dizziest dreamer.” John, you sometimes convince me it’s worth the candle.

The two closing tracks dapple and swell with even stronger life. Coaxing sax, exotic an some bizarre bazaar noise, makes Love Of Mine a smooch, while John Wayne has a junglefoot conga beat and such a full-blooded “I am John Wayne!” bawl you think about (in)sanity. If a ‘contemporary’ sound is sought, this alter ego respectfully offers itself: I think Martyn can be indulged a while yet.

Glyn Brown
8 March 1986