RFI : John Martyn

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Ok, I got some tracks from "Solid Air" last night. not bad. anything else of his worth picking up? Also, any other folkie's worth giving a listen to. New or old.

Chris V. (Chris V), Thursday, 24 July 2003 10:48 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

maybe it would help if I include what I have or heard.
Nick Drake
S & G
Al Stewart
Richie Havens
Joni Mitchell
Joan Baez

New: or should I say nu
James Yorkston
St. Thomas
Iron and Wine
Damien Rice

Chris V. (Chris V), Thursday, 24 July 2003 10:52 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

John Martyn - Many swear by Live at Leeds, but despite buying it for my father's birthday a few years ago, I've yet to hear it. One World is quite beautiful, Inside Out, Bless the Weather and Sunday's Child are all interesting, if a little patchy.

Jamie Conway (Jamie Conway), Thursday, 24 July 2003 11:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Jamie's OTM, i'd say.
Actually, nigh everything from The Road To Ruin(70) through Glorious Fool(81) sounds, to my pair of ears at least, as good or great or superb.
And there are very wonderful songs also on later albums. Glasgow Walker kinda grew on me - though it took a while.
*Some* of the latter-day compilations, though, should be approached with caution ("cases of horrible remixes, ahoy")

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Thursday, 24 July 2003 11:30 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

In this months Uncut (Or Mojo or Word - Can't remember exactly) They made a brief comment that he'd lost one his legs, but didn't elaborate whether through accident or disease (or just plain carelessness)- Does anyone know if this is true and if so why and is he OK apart from this obvious tragedy

Last time I saw him was at Burnley Mechanics about 5 years ago, he was off his nut, stoned as a kipper and was veh good indeed.

ActionJackson, Thursday, 24 July 2003 13:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Ha! I saw him once, I think at Leicester De Montford Hall when I lived in the UK, and at one point, he tried to smoke his beer and drink from his spliff. Everyone in the audience cracked up, and he looked kinda sheepish.

But I never heard about this accident.

I remember an older late 70s compilation (So Far So Good?) that had a lot of good early stuff on it. His 80s stuff is generally not as good, although, yeah, One World has some gorgeous moments.

Has anyone heard his cover of Portishead's "Glory Box"? Is it any good? I just can't envisage(?) it in my mind's ear.

David A. (Davant), Thursday, 24 July 2003 19:54 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

(Here's an idea: how about I use the word "good" one more time?)

David A. (Davant), Thursday, 24 July 2003 19:55 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'd forgotten about So Far So Good. My dad had it. It's a nice overview of his 70s stuff, and had a good number of my favourites on it. My dad had it, with the ticket Martyn signed for him at a gig in Irvine taped to the inside.

His live shows in recent years have been notoriously erratic - my "uncle" saw him numerous times and said almost everyone was a dud.

On an unrelated note, an old friend of mine claimed his dad used to work alongside him before he became a musician, My friend's dad was a coffin maker. I'm not sure if Martyn was in the same line.

Jamie Conway (Jamie Conway), Thursday, 24 July 2003 20:03 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Get John & Beverley Martyn's Stormbringer. I will be forever indebted to the man who recommended it to me.

N. (nickdastoor), Thursday, 24 July 2003 21:25 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

There's that Island 2xCD collection, too, of course, which also has a lot of his 80s stuff. It's interesting that of 34 songs, only 4 are taken from his 80s albums (Sapphire, Piece by Piece, and Foundations.). Okay, Grace and Danger is from 1980, but that means he probably wrote most of it in the 70s, right? ;-)

I just listened to One World since this thread started. I hadn't heard it in years. It's amazing. Everyone ignored it 'cos of punk (probably, it was 1977, after all), but it's an overlooked 70s gem. "Small Hours" is all ambient and heartbreaking. Who knew?

(x-post, yes, definitely, John and Beverley. There's also an instrumental he wrote for his ex-wife -- then his wife -- simply called "Beverley" I think, and it's gorgeous).

David A. (Davant), Thursday, 24 July 2003 21:30 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

avoid the phil collins/immediate post break up stuff (some nice songs ruined by increasing blandness).

the run of albums solid air - inside out - sundays child - one world all have a fantastic (if erratic)mix of acoustic folky stuff and increasingly spacy echoed out jazz inflected dubby stuff and are my favourites. smiling stranger! big muff! (which has a lee perry credit...)

earlier records are more straight acoustic folk but nice.

i saw him solo circa 77 and he stretched out the spacy stuff to completely fck with my teenage head. i had a tape of the performance i played over and over.

gaz (gaz), Thursday, 24 July 2003 21:38 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
How good is 'May you Never'?!
It's exquisite. As is 'Over the hill'.
I'd go with the Nick Drake side of things.
He's like the English John Martyn, and as such a little less happy, and a lot more cynical!

Ed Bell, Tuesday, 12 October 2004 15:28 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

There was an extremely good John Martyn documentary on BBC television a few months ago. Quite an eye-opener into just what a complex character he is - irrepressible, manic and moody by turns, thuggish, tender, living with absolute abandon and vigour but somewhere in there there lurks this huge dark chasm. Anyhow, it had the full tale of his amputation. His leg was removed basically as a direct result of his drinking. Hasn't seemed to have stopped him living the life though. Nice interviews with Danny Thompson too - also a huge character.

NickB (NickB), Tuesday, 12 October 2004 21:39 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Has anyone heard his cover of Portishead's "Glory Box"? Is it any good? I just can't envisage(?) it in my mind's ear.

-- David A. (merdaco...) (webmail), July 24th, 2003. (link)

They were talking about this on "Doc Martin"! The usually 'duh!' going receptionist was in raptures talking about John Martyn and the Glory Box cover to a lad.

Somewhat unexpected. bit like Greengrass raving over Syd Barrett to the sergeant..

mark grout (mark grout), Wednesday, 13 October 2004 06:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

"May you never lay your head down without a hand to hold...."

Damn it this song is gorgeous.

youcangoyourownway, Monday, 7 January 2008 04:09 (ten years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Amongst all the different Martyn compilations there's this 1986-1996 collection, Hidden Years, I'm grown curious about - anyone know whether that's a good comp (of that period)?

t**t, Thursday, 29 January 2009 23:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

bump cause i finally picked up one of his albums--solid air and damn it is a hell of an album. just totally gorgeous stuff, this guy was doing like proto-smooth music with great musicianship and emotional honesty.

the other jm threads give me a good idea of where to go next for his stuff, but what about stuff that has a similar tone--specifically 70s, moody, jazzy, genre-crossing sensitive guy stuff? not folk, more the electric small ensemble type stuff.

unlucky son (call all destroyer), Tuesday, 23 June 2009 15:53 (eight years ago) Permalink

yeah, solid air is undeniable -- the Live At Leeds record is killer too. anyone gotten the double disc reissue of Solid Air? Tempted to shell out for it.

tylerw, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:03 (eight years ago) Permalink

as for "specifically 70s, moody, jazzy, genre-crossing sensitive" -- not a guy, but Joni Mitchell's jazzier stuff might fit the bill

tylerw, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

Yeah, the super-obv. things are Joni, Tim Buckley, Van Morrison maybe, Robert Wyatt...

Enemy Insects (NickB), Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:11 (eight years ago) Permalink

Maybe something like Bill Fay might work? Would suggest Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow. Maybe a bit light on obvious 'jazzy' bits, lots of great exploratory guitar playing by Gary Smith though.

Enemy Insects (NickB), Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:19 (eight years ago) Permalink

hmm yeah joni and tim buckley might be good calls; i've listened to van's stuff from this era and can't really get into it. love wyatt. never heard of bill fay but i'll check him out.

unlucky son (call all destroyer), Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:23 (eight years ago) Permalink

He's kind of an odd figure lurking on the edge of all the singer-songwriter stuff of the era. Some of it's fairly conventional sound-wise, but you always get a very real sense of a strong, deeply-felt personal vision driving him on.

Enemy Insects (NickB), Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:28 (eight years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

someone posted a live clip of John Martyn on another thread playing a song from One World, do all his albums have the same spazzed out beach hippy vibe?

plax (ico), Friday, 12 March 2010 19:32 (eight years ago) Permalink

the earlier the better for the beachy, hippy vibe. later he gets more into spazzy, coked out smooth yacht vibe. all good to me tbh.

i've only heard a few.
start with Solid Air. best collection of songs and floating rhoades sound.
Inside Out is his most jazzy, out, free beachy album. similar to tim buckley's weirder albums
Sunday's Child is folky, but has the amazing, heavy "Root Love"
One World was recorded in jamaica. one track w/lee perry
Sapphire is super smooth, but still great

jaxon, Friday, 12 March 2010 20:12 (eight years ago) Permalink

thanks a lot! i dled one world straight after watching that clip and ive listened to it along with the demo vers. that came with it over and over all day, my head is swimming.

plax (ico), Friday, 12 March 2010 20:18 (eight years ago) Permalink

plax, ONE WORLD is the bizness

Michael B, Friday, 12 March 2010 20:21 (eight years ago) Permalink

wish there were live videos of Dancing.

plax (ico), Friday, 12 March 2010 20:36 (eight years ago) Permalink

Bless The Weather is awesome too. It's mostly mellow folky songs (really great ones though - check out 'Head and Heart'), but there's also 'Glistening Glyndebourne' which is this beautiful exploratory instrumental piece that has a bit of a free jazz feel to it.

We should have called Suzie and Bobby (NickB), Friday, 12 March 2010 22:58 (eight years ago) Permalink

get the "live @ leeds and more" thing. starts off with a huge tidal wave "outside in" and has a smokin' version of "clutches" as a bonus track. vocals performance top-knotch throughout. plus danny thompson is aboard, iirc (talk about musicians having seemingly telepathic links)

guammls (QE II), Friday, 12 March 2010 23:07 (eight years ago) Permalink

and yeah "Glistening Glyndebourne" is a must for the spaced out jazz vibe

guammls (QE II), Friday, 12 March 2010 23:08 (eight years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

really dig the phil collins drumming/production on Glorious Fool.

mizzell, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 16:46 (eight years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Album Credits: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute to John Martyn

CD 1
2. "GLORIOUS FOOL" CLARENCE FOUNTAIN AND SAM BUTLER (Formerly the Blind Boys of Alabama)

CD 2

scott seward, Wednesday, 1 June 2011 16:40 (seven years ago) Permalink

I wonder where I will find John Martyn records among the myriad "folk" genres at my community station?

Trip Maker, Wednesday, 1 June 2011 16:43 (seven years ago) Permalink

kinda curious about Robert Smith on "Small Hours"!

Euler, Wednesday, 1 June 2011 16:43 (seven years ago) Permalink

Oh god, Paolo Nutini doing "One World"

Number None, Wednesday, 1 June 2011 21:48 (seven years ago) Permalink

two months pass...


this song rules

max, Wednesday, 3 August 2011 14:47 (six years ago) Permalink

john martyn rules

it was pleasant and delightful, just like (La Lechera), Wednesday, 3 August 2011 14:53 (six years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

john martyn otm

baby beluga (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 January 2013 22:58 (five years ago) Permalink

apparently that address was his actual residence...

tylerw, Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:02 (five years ago) Permalink

hastings is quite the place for weirdo bohemian folksy types. i believe that's where shirlay collins lives at the moment, plus barry dransfield, david tibet and james blackshaw. home of aleister crowley too of course once upon a time

Jaap and roids (NickB), Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:09 (five years ago) Permalink

shirlay <--- written in country dialect obv

Jaap and roids (NickB), Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:10 (five years ago) Permalink

Don't know many people from Glasgow who speak like that.

Keith, Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:12 (five years ago) Permalink

You mean the advert? That was pretty much how John Martyn spoke wasn't it?

Jaap and roids (NickB), Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:13 (five years ago) Permalink

Well I think he did both, so he did that when he was in England and then he spoke Scottish when he was in Scotland.

Keith, Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:17 (five years ago) Permalink


^ it's his 70s comedy cockney voice

Jaap and roids (NickB), Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:20 (five years ago) Permalink

To be fair to him, I can appreciate that. I am from Glasgow but would like to be cockney.

Keith, Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:21 (five years ago) Permalink

how is that Live at Leeds album? I've been tempted by the deluxe edition

Euler, Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:21 (five years ago) Permalink

the original is pretty great -- don't think i've heard the deluxe.

tylerw, Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:24 (five years ago) Permalink


I love John Martyn, but I wouldn't say it's amazing. The deluxe one is better because it has MORE on it, but I despite its fame, I don't think it really does that much more over the records it's take from. I've seen him do amazing live versions of songs (Lookin' on, for example), but they're not on that record. I mean it's obviously good - I just feel like it could've been better, but then perhaps I suppose you'd always think that.

Keith, Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:24 (five years ago) Permalink

shirlay <--- written in country dialect obv

― Jaap and roids (NickB), Tuesday, January 29, 2013 5:10 PM (4 hours ago) Bookmark

hahaha!! <3

this customer is a jerk (La Lechera), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 03:19 (five years ago) Permalink

my favorite john martyn song


cocktail onion (fennel cartwright), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 03:24 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, it's up there

Number None, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 11:34 (five years ago) Permalink

that's a really good one, agree

john martyn is some of my favorite road trippin music, no idea why

this customer is a jerk (La Lechera), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 15:25 (five years ago) Permalink

I only have/only know Solid Air. I should get Inside Out sometime since I vibe with shit like Starsailor/Lorca etc

hibernaculum (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:24 (five years ago) Permalink

Don't forget Bless the Weather - terrible cover, beautiful music

this customer is a jerk (La Lechera), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:27 (five years ago) Permalink

was listening to eibhli ghail (can't actually type out the whole title) from inside out on repeat yesterday. kozmiceltic.

tylerw, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:28 (five years ago) Permalink

which one has him wearing that crazy pointy hood on the front? That is an all time visual.

hibernaculum (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:29 (five years ago) Permalink

you should definitely hear glistening glyndebourne off bless the weather, jon

Jaap and roids (NickB), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:32 (five years ago) Permalink

Martynhead sounds like one of the stations in 'I Often Dream of Trains'

hibernaculum (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:46 (five years ago) Permalink

This is great - it's You Can Discover but also the coda to Call Me Crazy:


Keith, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 18:39 (five years ago) Permalink

probably my OPO, although there's so many worthy contenders....


Lee626, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 23:48 (five years ago) Permalink

Indeed that one's definitely up there, although as you say, with about 50 others, but it is indeed a personal favourite.

One guy once described listening to John Martyn as though time stops when you do it and I think that's pretty much a perfect description.

Keith, Thursday, 31 January 2013 00:02 (five years ago) Permalink

huh. maybe that's why it's good road trippin music?

this customer is a jerk (La Lechera), Thursday, 31 January 2013 00:16 (five years ago) Permalink

that's true for me & "Small Hours", such a peaceful record, can just drift away

Euler, Thursday, 31 January 2013 00:51 (five years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Bless The Weather is alltime. I got absolutely blitzed on Balvenie last night and night and it was perfect, sounding great with the hangover as well.

Damo Suzuki's Parrot, Saturday, 16 February 2013 10:34 (five years ago) Permalink

four months pass...


The Island Years is the most exhaustive career retrospective from one of Britain’s most original and enduring singer/songwriters. Housed in an LP size hard-back slip case, this lavish box set contains 18 Discs including:

• 17 CDs featuring 12 key studio albums, recorded for Island between 1967 and 1987, now with previously unreleased mixes, Out-Takes, unheard songs and 2 complete, previously unreleased live solo concerts from 1972 and 1977 and the complete demos for The Apprentice, the last album Martyn delivered to Island.
• 1 DVD containing rare television performances from the Old Grey Whistle Test, Sight and Sound – In Concert, A Little Night Music and first time on DVD for the VHS release, Foundations.
• A hard-back book featuring a new essay by The Island Years compiler and researcher John Hillarby plus rare and previously unseen photographs and extensive memorabilia.

There is a strong selection of previously unreleased alternative takes from Martyn’s career defining 70s albums Stormbringer, The Road To Ruin, Bless The Weather, Solid Air, Inside Out, Sunday’s Child and One World; plus there are extensive outtakes and a number of unreleased songs from Martyn’s 80s Island releases: Grace And Danger, Sapphire and Piece By Piece.

tylerw, Tuesday, 25 June 2013 17:31 (four years ago) Permalink

170 quid, haha!

dschinghis kraan (NickB), Tuesday, 25 June 2013 17:54 (four years ago) Permalink


brimstead, Tuesday, 25 June 2013 17:56 (four years ago) Permalink

yeah looks neato. $170 for 17 CDs + book + DVD doesn't sound insane.

tylerw, Tuesday, 25 June 2013 18:11 (four years ago) Permalink

suppose it's only fitting that they want an arm and a leg for it

dschinghis kraan (NickB), Tuesday, 25 June 2013 18:23 (four years ago) Permalink


tylerw, Tuesday, 25 June 2013 18:24 (four years ago) Permalink

Have still never listened to any JM later than Grace & Danger. Anyone know much about the stuff that came after? What am I missing out on?

dschinghis kraan (NickB), Tuesday, 25 June 2013 19:55 (four years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

I have Piece by Piece and I think it's horrible (but am not sure I have even listened all the way through because it was so horrible). Maybe it's an undiscovered classic waiting to be given a second chance.

Grace and Danger, however, is another matter. For me, it's close to perfection and an album I'll never tire of. I took it to our club recently and wrote about it here:


yugi ex, Sunday, 20 October 2013 19:00 (four years ago) Permalink

I was going to revive this thread, because I heard One World for the first time this week. Such an incredible record, totally out-there but also really warm and organic. It's totally balearic.

Matt DC, Sunday, 20 October 2013 19:02 (four years ago) Permalink

the OGWT clip of that song is amazing

buzza, Sunday, 20 October 2013 19:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Oh man, One World is such a great album! 'Dancing' is one of the all-time great morning-after comedown tunes

Third Rate Zoo Keepers With Tenth Rate Minds (Windsor Davies), Sunday, 20 October 2013 19:56 (four years ago) Permalink

I did update a different thread about that boxset as an £8 dl, off amazon

Mistake, I guess, it's gone now

Mark G, Sunday, 20 October 2013 20:06 (four years ago) Permalink

I bought it for £1.99 from play.com! But the download doesn't work at all and I reckon when I get in touch, they'll probably just give me a refund.

gotta lol geir (NickB), Sunday, 20 October 2013 22:03 (four years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

wow @ One World

ciderpress, Sunday, 13 November 2016 02:16 (one year ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

The song "May you never" is really disturbing. It is quite clearly an incredibly tender song, but one that sounds like it was written by a serial abuser. Its so full of paranoia, its appeal to love is really a veiled threat. So much violence in the imagery, but pleading and pathetic. I've been gradually, increasingly troubled by this song since I started listening to Solid Air almost constantly last summer.

plax (ico), Friday, 16 June 2017 17:39 (one year ago) Permalink

Definitely feel what you're saying here. Martyn's alcohol consumption surely had a lot to do with the more, uhm, unsettling aspects of some his narratives.

'Make No Mistake' is another disturbing one.

Austin, Friday, 16 June 2017 18:18 (one year ago) Permalink

"Head and Heart" has made me pause before -- it's a really tender song but idk how healthy it is to want to be loved like a child
guy had problems, news at 11

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Monday, 19 June 2017 13:38 (one year ago) Permalink

The guy was an absolute horror but what can you do?

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Monday, 19 June 2017 13:42 (one year ago) Permalink

Exactly. Martyn's lyrics are so slurred that I've rarely paid attention despite having listened to him for 30 years. I wouldn't care to read a biography of the man but I'll continue to return to a large number of his albums.

I also love Miles Davis' music despite his horrific character, which I'll admit is pretty much irrelevant to me.

doug watson, Tuesday, 20 June 2017 16:45 (one year ago) Permalink

I mean I think what's wonderful and terrible about May You Never is that it *is* so romantic. It is a very moving song, and there is a real appeal in it. For me I had loved it for a long time before I started to taste the poison in it. I was thinking about him when I was in Hastings at the weekend on the beach.

plax (ico), Tuesday, 20 June 2017 16:52 (one year ago) Permalink

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