There is a saying of The Bedouin Tribe. “We pitch our tents far apart, so that our hearts remain close.” Since the mid-seventies John and myself have had our tents very much apart, but the friendship developed during the three years we had together has remained a strong bond.
These recordings are an important documentation of Johns originality and innovative style. Yes there are some fine songs: Dealer, Big Muff and Certain Surprise, also great songs: One World and Couldn’t Love You More, all these and more. They also give the listener a perfect insight into John’s use of free expression: in songs he vocally crosses the restrictions of strict tempo, in whatever meter, and within the instrumental builds melody upon melody, keeping us locked in to his instrumental storytelling. But for me the most impressive fact is…’HE SWINGS!’… whatever the mood.
During our lives we put on faces to suit different situations, but if we’re serious about our music then we can only be honest. John is an ‘in your face’ person and bares his soul to all in daily life and within his compositions, if you have any doubts about this then what about lines like;
“Silence has never been my thing.
I’m one of those, I love to shout and sing about my love”
(Certain Surprise) and
“If you kissed the sun right out of the sky for me,
If you told me all the lies I might deserve,
If you lay all night in the rain for me,
Well I couldn’t love you more.
(Couldn’t Love You More).
He is being honest about his feelings here and not out to write a hit song, but his honesty is also thought provoking for us all in;
“Some of us live like princes
And some of us live like kings,
Most of us live just like me and don’t know what it means
To take place in One World,
To make our peace in One World,
To make our way in One World,
To have our say in One World.”
We also get a hit of John’s move away from the solo performer to group leader with Dealer, Big Muff, Dancing etc. To hear these again brought back memories of being involved with a fine song writer and musician, and friend, but more than all of that someone who…… swings! Check it out.
Danny Thompson 1999