Say John Martyn… Louder!

Rosalind Russell
Disc and Music Echo
Say John Martyn… LOUDER!
JOHN MARTYN's family are very proud of him. And to show that they are, they travel great distances to see him when he does big concerts like the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. "It makes me nervous. I was terrified when I did the Sandy Denny concert at the QE hall,1 because the wife's family, right down to Uncle George, came down from Coventry to watch. It's very unnerving."

John's wife, Beverley, has given up working with him in the clubs because she is too busy being a full-time mum to their two children. She still works on his albums and may well return to music when her children are a little older. She appeared on John's latest album Bless The Weather and there are plans for her to do a solo album when she gets the time.

"Beverley is anxious to work again. Being a good singer is a heavy thing, but being a mother is heavy, too. The two together don't always work. I feel the same about this album as I did about the last one, Stormbringer, except this one is a little purer."

"Also, I didn't have the hassles with this one. With Stormbringer I had to travel to the States to get the musicians I wanted –like Harvey Brooks and John Simon– primarily for a rhythm section. The track Just Now is the best thing I've done I think."

However, John had planned on doing something different with this album had he had a bigger budget to work with. But as Stormbringer didn't break sales records, the budget was kept to two thousand pounds.

"I might have done an electric album. That doesn't mean I don't dig Bless The Weather, I do, but I may do the next album with electric instruments. I've been using them since the last album and it provides more scope. There isn't much adaptation, I just have to sing louder. With acoustic music, you can only do a few things a few ways but with a wider tonal quality, there are more possibilities."

Although he isn't really a typical singles artist, a single has just been brought out of his song May You Never. John isn't ecstatic about it and thinks that it will probably just do nothing.

Although John did a few of the songs from the album at the QE hall, he generally tries not to emphasise his album in the way that many artists take the opportunity of plugging a record.
"Sometimes I consciously avoid pushing the album. The people in the audiences are sharp and they can suss anyone that's up there just to make a quick one. Everybody should have a good time at concerts."

"The music industry in general is looking for a shot in the arm, a new era, a new Beatles, but they are trying to manufacture one. It doesn't work trying to do that. As to the BBC's programmes on Radio 1 – I don't hate them, but I resent them. I think, for instance, that they should devote a whole show to ethnic folk music because it's important. It's not the only music for me by any means, but I started out doing folk."

At the moment, John is half thinking about finding a bass player and a drummer, but wants to make sure he gets exactly the kind of musicians he needs.
"It's a matter of finding the right people. You have to consider what you like playing and also you have to keep a certain looseness so that ideas can be worked out. There are a few artists I really admire, although I wouldn't say I wanted to play like them. I respect John McLaughlin and Nick Drake, because they are good guitarists. I'd like to be able to play as well, but not she same."

John has been taking a lot of work lately, but mainly around the South of England, within travelling distance of his home in Hastings. However, there is a chance that he will be doing some work in the States in the New Year and before then he will be going to Belgium and Holland for 10 days.


1 This show took place Friday 10 Sep 1971 and John was supporting act to Sandy Denny (as was Duncan Browne).
Disc and Music Echo was a London based weekly music newspaper that was incorporated into Record Mirror 1975.

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