Solid Air (Vinyl) (Translucent Blue) (2018)

Exclusive HMV store release of Solid Air on translucent blue vinyl released 13 October 2018.

Limited edition available in store only. Bearing the same catalogue number 533 763-6 as the Solid Air Back To Black vinyl edition and with the same artwork, the only obvious differences being a sticker over the bar code and you guessed it blue translucent vinyl! Deep pockets required on release day priced at £24-99p.

HMV Press release, “National Album Day Saturday 13th October 3:33pm. Today is National Album Day and what better way to celebrate the significantly influential format than with John Martyn’s Solid Air. The hmv team have pressed limited edition vinyl of timeless records to celebrate the vital impact albums like Solid Air have had on all of us. Visit your local hmv now to get your hands on a copy.”

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Solid Air (Vinyl) (Translucent Green) (2016)

Exclusive HMV store release of Solid Air on translucent green vinyl released 18 June 2016. Limited edition of 500 copies available in store only priced at £19-99p. Catalogue number 478 527-7.


JOHN MARTYN Solid Air (2016 UK limited edition audiophile issue of the classic 1973 9-track LP issued exclusively by HMV & pressed on heavyweight Green Vinyl, gatefold picture sleeve reproducing the original album artwork. Both sleeve & vinyl remain near ‘as new’)
**Limited to 500 Copies Only**.”

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Head And Heart The Acoustic John Martyn

Released by Universal Music on 28 April 2017 a two CD set celebrating John’s acoustic music.

Thirty five songs in total (including four previously unreleased takes) accompanied by a booklet including sleeve notes and memorabilia. Available here.



1. Fairy Tale Lullaby
2. London Conversation
3. Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright
4. She Moves Through The Fair
5. Goin’ Down To Memphis (Previously unreleased)
6. A Day At The Sea (Previously unreleased)
7. Seven Black Roses (Previously unreleased)
8. Woodstock
9. John The Baptist
10. Traffic-Light Lady
11. Parcels
12. New Day
13. Tree Green
14. Go Easy
15. Bless The Weather [BBC Old Grey Whistle Test 18/1/72] (Previously unreleased)
16. Head And Heart
17. Singin’ In The Rain
18. In The Evening

1. The Glory Of Love
2. Solid Air
3. Over The Hill
4. May You Never
5. Go Down Easy
6. When It’s Dark
7. Fine Lines
8. Ways To Cry
9. Beverley/Make No Mistake [BBC – Bob Harris 15/10/73]
10. One Day Without You [BBC – John Peel 13/1/75]
11. Lay It All Down
12. My Baby Girl [BBC – John Peel 13/1/75]
13. All For The Love Of You
14. Working It Out
15. Spencer The Rover [BBC – John Peel 13/1/75]
16. Certain Surprise/Couldn’t Love You More [BBC – John Peel 4/2/77]
17. Patterns In The Rain [Island Birthday Party 4/7/87]


Universal Music Press Release

This April sees the release of Head and Heart – The Acoustic John Martyn, a beautiful, 35-track, double CD set, which captures the legendary singer-songwriter at his intimate best.

Thoughtfully compiled, the set comprises key album tracks, from his 1967 debut, London Conversation through to 1977’s One World. The set closes with a version of Patterns In The Rain, recorded live at Island Records 25th birthday party in 1987. Accompanied only by grand piano, it is an unusual and very different performance from John Martyn, highlighting his remarkable vocal talent. In addition to many of his best known songs, the album also features four previously unreleased recordings, including three demo versions of songs recorded at the sessions for 1968’s The Tumbler and the long lost 1971 performance of Bless The Weather for The Old Grey Whistle Test.

The set is made complete with the inclusion of specially commissioned liner notes by respected music writer and author of the Sandy Denny biography, I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn, Mick Houghton.

Singer-songwriter/guitarist John Martyn began his innovative and expansive career at the age of 17, with a style that, at first, drew influence from American blues artists. He eventually moved to London, where he became a regular fixture at Les Cousins, the centre for the local folk scene. He soon caught the attention of Island Records founder Chris Blackwell who made him the first solo white act to join the roster of his then reggae-based label. With his characteristic backslap, acoustic guitar playing and catalogue of timeless songs, John Martyn, who died in 2009, remains an important and influential figure in British folk and rock music.

28th APRIL 2017

For further information etc. please contact Dorothy Howe Press & Publicity.

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May You Never: The Essential John Martyn (2016)

Budget compilation from Universal Music released on 25 November 2016.

Fold out digipack includes 58 songs over 3CDs including album tracks, alternative takes and mixes. No previously unreleased songs.

There appears to be a printing error in the tracklisting which states that Glistening Glyndebourne is an “alternate take previously unreleased” .


  1. Fairy Tale Lullaby
  2. London Conversation
  3. Cocain
  4. Back To Stay
  5. Goin’ Down To Memphis
  6. Fishin’ Blues
  7. Knuckledy Crunch and Slippledee-Slee Song
  8. Stormbringer!
  9. John The Baptist
  10. Traffic Light Lady
  11. Primrose Hill
  12. Say What You Can
  13. The Road To Ruin
  14. Go Easy
  15. Bless The Weather
  16. Head and Heart
  17. Singin’ In The Rain
  18. Glistening Glyndebourne
  19. I’d Rather Be The Devil
  20. The Easy Blues/Gcomentle Blues
  21. Man In The Station


  1. May You Never
  2. Solid Air
  3. Over The Hill
  4. Fine Lines
  5. Ain’t No Saint
  6. The Glory Of Love
  7. Beverley
  8. Make No Mistake
  9. One Day Without You
  10. Sunday’s Child
  11. Spencer The Rover
  12. You Can Discover
  13. Couldn’t Love You More
  14. One World
  15. Smiling Stranger
  16. Small Hours
  17. Save Some (For Me)
  18. Some People Are Crazy
  19. Johnny Too Bad)
  20. Grace and Danger


  1. Some People Are Crazy
  2. Sweet Little Mystery
  3. Baby Please Come Home
  4. Sapphire
  5. Over The Rainbow
  6. Fishermans Dream
  7. Acid Rain
  8. Mad Dog Days
  9. Tight Connection To My Heart
  10. Angeline
  11. Piece By Piece
  12. John Wayne
  13. Love Of Mine
  14. Serendipity
  15. Who Believes In Angels
  16. The River
  17. Deny This Love
  18. Lifeline
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Solid Air (Vinyl) (Half-speed Master) (2016)

Released by Universal Music on 6 May 2016 (delayed from 15 April 2016) on high quality audiophile vinyl.

Unlike previous re-issues the album was cut at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios. This technique results in the very highest quality sound reproduction.

The process involves the original 1/4 inch studio master tape being played back at precisely half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is similarly turned at half the desired playback speed. This allows the cutting head twice the time to cut the intricate groove, affording considerably more accuracy with important matters such as frequency extremes and micro-dynamic contrasts. The resulting cuts have excellent high frequency response and very solid and stable stereo images.

Further details are provided in the press release kit (below) which includes a detailed explanation of the mastering process.

  1. Solid Air (J. Martyn)Solid Air Web Half Speed
  2. Over The Hill (J. Martyn)
  3. Don’t Want To Know (J. Martyn)
  4. I’d Rather Be The Devil (S. James)
  5. Go Down Easy (J. Martyn)
  6. Dreams By The Sea (J. Martyn)
  7. May You Never (J. Martyn)
  8. The Man In The Station (J. Martyn)
  9. The Easy Blues (J. Martyn)

Press Release

Recorded at the Sound Techniques Studio in Chelsea during 1972, John Martyn’s seminal album Solid Air was released in February 1973.

Emotionally intense and hauntingly beautiful Solid Air encapsulates almost every musical genre with ease and accomplishment. The songs are exquisitely crafted fusions of blues, country, folk, jazz and rock, with dazzling guitar, musicianship and outstanding vocals.

“I really like the title track. It was done for a friend of mine [Nick Drake], and it was done right with very clear motives, and I’m very pleased with it, for varying reasons. It has got a very simple message, but you’ll have to work that one out for yourself…”

Go Down Easy and Don’t Want To Know proved to be chill-out masterpieces decades before the phrase had ever been invented. I’d Rather Be The Devil is viciously wild with echo drenched guitar, however Martyn will always be remembered for May You Never, a delightful song of kindhearted advice that he recorded in one take at two in the morning accompanied only by his acoustic guitar.
“A great album…as a single overall expression ‘Solid Air’ flows beautifully and shows the entire spectrum of music that John Martyn has at his fingertips.” (Sounds 7/4/73)
“Solid Air shines out like a beacon in the darkness.” (Pippin)
“With mellow jazzy flourishes and warm acoustic sounds, Solid Air is the musical equivalent of a reassuring hug… a quiveringly sexy folk record.” – (Q, 1999 voting Solid Air as one of the best chill-out albums of all time)
“An ocean of tension quivers beneath surface tranquility” – Mojo

This time defying album is packaged in a superb reproduction of the original gatefold sleeve adorned by unmistakable schlieren photography (a photograph of the flow of fluids of varying density) that demonstrates the ‘solid’ nature of air.

Considered by many to be his finest, and without doubt his most famous album, the enduring theme of love epitomizes Martyn’s philosophy on life.

“Love – Nuff Said.”

Universal Music Catalogue & Abbey Road Studios’ Half-Speed Mastering Series Press Release

Six Iconic Albums Half-Speed Mastered For A Superior Listening Experience


The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St
The Police – Ghost in the Machine
John Martyn – Solid Air
Cream – Disraeli Gears
Free – Fire and Water
Simple Minds – New Gold Dream

Release 15th April 2016

Images and Miles Showell’s personal notes for each record are available here (see below).

Six iconic albums have been exclusively Half Speed Mastered for vinyl at the world’s most famous studio Abbey Road, to bring a superior listening experience with a new level of depth and clarity.

This limited edition launch range, all pressed on 180g vinyl, come in deluxe packaging that includes a certificate of authenticity from Abbey Road, with all releases an exact replica of the first pressings in terms of artwork.

Cut by Miles Showell, one of the world’s leading exponents of half speed cutting, these are among the very finest vinyl pressings that these albums have ever received. Half speed mastering has resulted in “superior high frequency response (treble) and very solid and stable stereo images”, and pressed to a very high standard in Germany, ensuring top notch sound quality.

Further care has been taken to create packaging that adheres to the same high standards, from giving each album its own individual obi strip to creating detailed artwork reproduction. ‘Exile On Main Street’, for instance, comes with the 12 original postcard inserts taken by Norman Seef, art director for the original 1972 pressing of the album, while The Police’s ‘Ghost In The Machine’ features a replica of the original picture inner sleeve.

Miles Showell says: “Anything recorded in a professional studio… that still sounds good, is going to benefit from being half-speed mastered. That’s the beauty of [half-speed mastering]. You don’t need the world’s greatest turntables… [and with] a moderately reasonable hi-fi deck, something you order for about £200 or up from there, you’d easily hear the difference between a normal cut and a half-speed cut.

“If the source isn’t good enough, I won’t be doing it. I’m not here to try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I want to make sure that everything I’ve got is good. So… if there’s no high quality source to work from, there’s not a lot of point.”

The six initial releases are:abbey road studios

The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St
The Police – Ghost in the Machine
John Martyn – Solid Air
Cream – Disraeli Gears
Free – Fire and Water
Simple Minds – New Gold Dream

All vinyl are available via the Abbey Road shop.

The technical description of ‘the process’:

Abbey Road’s engineers have been cutting grooves into discs since the studios first opened their doors in 1931. In 2013, award-winning engineer Miles Showell joined their existing mastering team, bringing a wealth of disc-cutting experience with him.

One of the artisan techniques offered by Abbey Road that results in the very highest quality sound reproduction is Half Speed Cutting. Simply put, this process involves the master source being played back at precisely half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is similarly turned at half the desired playback speed. This allows the cutting head twice the time to cut the intricate groove, affording considerably more accuracy with important matters such as frequency extremes and micro-dynamic contrasts. The resulting cuts have excellent high frequency response (treble) and very solid and stable stereo images.

Of course, it is not as simple as running everything at half rate. There is an EQ curve applied to all vinyl records and by running the lathe at half speed, all the frequencies are wrong. However, the technical staff at Abbey Road have had new custom built filters installed which allow Miles to practice half speed cutting to the full on a modified Neumann VMS-80 lathe.

For more information please contact B** P***** at P*****.


The Rolling Stones, ‘Exile on Main St’ – Cut from 24bit/96khz digital transfers supplied by The Rolling Stones and made from original ¼” tapes
The Police ‘Ghost in the Machine’ – Cut from a high-resolution digital transfer from the best known ¼ analogue tape in existence
John Martyn ‘Solid Air’ – Cut from a high-resolution digital transfer from the ¼” analogue masters
Cream ‘Disraeli Gears’ – Cut from digital transfers made from the original ¼” MONO masters (with edits) from Atlantic Studios NYC, 1967 – transfers were made at Sterling Sound, NYC, in 2013
Free ‘Fire and Water’ – Cut from digital transfers from the original ¼” tapes, recently prepared by Free remastering engineers Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham
Simple Minds ‘New Gold Dream’ – Cut from a high-resolution digital transfer from the original ½” analogue masters

Universal Music Press Kit Solid Air – ARHSLP003

Miles Showell (Engineer) Notes

1. What is ‘Half-Speed Mastering’?

This is an elaborate process whereby the source is played back at half it’s normal speed and the turntable on the disc cutting lathe is running at 16
2/3 R.P.M. Because both the source and the cut were running at half their “normal” speeds everything plays back at the right speed when the record is played at home.

2. What are the advantages of Half-Speed Mastering?

The vinyl L.P. is an analogue sound carrier. Therefore the size and shape of the groove carrying the music is directly related to whatever the music is doing at any particular point. By reducing the speed by a factor of two the recording stylus has twice as long to carve the intricate groove into the master lacquer. Also, any difficult to cut high-frequency information becomes fairly easy to cut mid-range. The result is a record that is capable of extremely clean and un-forced high-frequency response as well as a detailed and solid stereo image.

3. Are there any disadvantages?

Only two, having to listen to music at half-speed for hour after hour can be a little difficult at least until I get to hear back the resulting cut when it all becomes worthwhile. The other dis-advantage is an inability to do any de-essing. De-essing is a form of processing the signal whereby the “sss” and “t” sounds from the vocalist are controlled in order to avoid sibilance and distortion on playback. None of the tools I would ordinarily employ on a real-time cut work at half speed as the frequencies are wrong so the offending “sss” does not trigger the limiter and everything is moving so slowly there is no acceleration as such for the de-esser to look out for. This has always been the Achilles heel of half-speed cutting until now (see below).

4. What was the source for this record?

This album was cut from a high-resolution digital transfer from the 1⁄4” analogue masters. The tapes were re-played on an Ampex ATR-102 fitted with custom extended bass response playback heads. Only minimal sympathetic equalisation was applied to the transfer to keep everything as pure as possible. Also, as this was an analogue, vinyl only high quality release, I did not apply any digital limiting. This is added to almost all digital releases to make them appear to be loud and is responsible for “the loudness war” and in almost every case is anything but natural and pure sounding.

5. Why could you not cut it all analogue?

The biggest variable when cutting from tape is the replay machine. Every individual roller in the tape’s path will have a direct effect on the quality of the audio emanating from the machine. In addition to this, there is the issue of the sub 30Hz low-frequency roll off on an advance head disc-cutting tape machine which in effect will come into play at 60 Hz when running at half speed. In addition to this, there
are also some unpredictable frequency anomalies in the 35-38 Hz region with analogue tape that will double up at half speed. These are all problems if you want to hear as originally intended the lowest register of the bass end on a recording. There is also the lesser potential problem of tape weave that effectively increases at lower speeds and leads to less high frequency stability and the possibility of minor azimuth errors. Even if these problems could be overcome the master tapes for this album were encoded with Dolby A noise reduction. Dolby only ever made a very small quantity of half-speed enabled Dolby A cards, none of which are available to me. Although the technical team at Abbey Road are more than capable of modifying some spare Dolby A cards for half-speed use, to do so would require an intimate knowledge of the expansion circuit in the card which has never been made available outside of the Dolby Company. Finally, analogue tape becomes degraded with each pass over the replay heads. These tapes are getting old and it is no longer considered good practise to play and play and play precious old original masters for fear of damage and general wear and tear. Far better, then, to eliminate the variable of
the reply machine, to decode the Dolby noise reduction correctly and to minimise wear of the master by capturing the music digitally at very high resolution using professional converters locked down with stable external word-clocks. To capture from an Ampex ATR-102 with extended bass heads is a far superior method in my opinion.

6. Are there any advantages to this working method?

Yes, any problems with the tape can be treated far more accurately digitally than they could be by using traditional analogue techniques. For example de-essing. I can, by clever editing, target just the offending “sss” and leave intact the rest of the audio. Therefore high-hats, bright guitars and snare drums are not affected or reduced in impact. Using an analogue scatter-gun de-esser approach would also trigger the limiter in many parts of the audio that do not need to be worked on. The de-esser cannot tell a bright guitar from bright vocal and will smooth everything out leading to dull guitars or soft snare drums and weak hi-hats. Targeting the “sss” sounds in the vocal as I have done in this series is time consuming but is worthwhile in the pursuit of the very best possible sounding record. Also if there was any damage to the analogue tape (drop-outs and clicks for example) this can by and large be restored using modern digital methods in a way that is unobtrusive and this would be impossible using analogue methods. For the record, none of the albums in this series have been de-noised.

Only clicks and drop-outs have been repaired.

Miles Showell

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Piece By Piece (Remastered And Expanded) (Vinyl) (2015)

Piece By Piece remastered and expanded was released by Universal Music on high quality heavy weight vinyl on 26th January 2015.

The press release stated;

“Single disc, two-disc, double lp and digital equivalent releases which marked John Martyn’s return to Island Records in the mid-1980’s.

Universal Music Catalogue is pleased to announce the multi-formatted releases of Sapphire and Piece By Piece on January 26th 2015, two of John Martyn’s most overlooked albums and a return to the label he was most famously associated with following two album for WEA.

Both Sapphire, originally released in 1984, and Piece By Piece, 1986 are long deleted and ripe for reappraisal. Each album has been remastered and expanded, including some recently unearthed material, with a second disc as part of Island’s RePresents series alongside limited edition double vinyl editions.

Sapphire features alternate mixes by co-producer Andy Lyden, and five previously unreleased studio takes. Among these, the ‘Straight Choir’ version of ‘Fisherman’s Dream’, one of Martyn’s most popular songs, was omitted from the original album in favour of a gospel choir version. There are also three previously unreleased live performances recorded in Hamburg in 1986.

Piece by Piece includes seven alternate mixes, and seven previously unreleased live performances also recorded in Hamburg in 1986. Bob Dylan’s ‘Tight Connection To My Heart’ features among the new live recordings; it was a song Martyn rarely played on stage. ‘Angeline’ became the world’s first ever CD single when it was taken from the album and released at the beginning of February that year, just ahead of a 20 date tour which marked John Martyn’s 20th anniversary since his first professional shows.

Both albums feature enhanced packaging containing lyrics, a new essay plus rare and previously unseen photographs.”

Piece By Piece was first released in April 1986, further details here.

This remastered and expanded gatefold vinyl release includes a second LP of alternative takes/mixes and live songs. There are 9 alternative takes plus John’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Tight Connection To My Heart. Five live songs from 1986 are also included. Both records are housed in custom printed sleeves illustrated with photographs, memorabilia and sleeve notes. There are 6 previously unreleased takes including 5 live songs, the other takes on LP2 were previously included on the comprehensive 18 CD limited edition box The Island Years released in 2013.


  1. Nightline (J. Martyn)
  2. Lonely Love (J. Martyn)
  3. Angeline (J. Martyn)
  4. One Step Too Far (J. Martyn)
  5. Piece By Piece (F.Patterson)
  1. Serendipity (J. Martyn)
  2. Who Believes In Angels (J. Martyn)
  3. Love Of Mine (J. Martyn)
  4. John Wayne (J. Martyn)


  1. Lonely Love – Alternative Take
  2. Angeline – Alternative Take
  3. Tight Connection To My Heart
  4. Serendipity – Alternative Take
  5. John Wayne – Alternative Take
  1. Nightline – Live in Hamburg 23/4/1986
  2. Piece By Piece – Live in Hamburg 23/4/1986
  3. Serendipity – Live in Hamburg 23/4/1986
  4. Love Of Mine – Live in Hamburg 23/4/1986
  5. Tight Connection To My Heart – Live in Hamburg 23/4/1986
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