Welcome Return to John Martyn

Galway Advertiser

Sound Scene

Welcome Return to John Martyn

John Martyn makes a welcome return to the Castle tomorrow night at 8.30 and if his last performance here in October '83 is anything to go by this should be a most enjoyable gig.

promo pictureJohn Martyn was born in Glasgow in 1949 [sic] an only child. At an early age his mother introduced him to the work of Debussy, much later he was introduced to the folk scene by Hamish Imlach. He moved to London where he was spotted by Chris Blackwell and signed to Island records. In 1968 his first album London Conversation was released but was not a commercial success. It did however give Martyn considerably more presence on the club circuit.

His second album, The Tumbler, released the following year, clearly showed the growing maturity of Martyn's music, and in particular his fascination with jazz. The album featured saxophonist Harold McNair — a bold stroke which defied all the rules of the insular folk atmosphere of the time.

The next album, Stormbringer, took on even more instrumentation to the point where Martyn was playing in a full group context. By this time he had met Beverley, a solo artist with two singles to her credit, and became first her accompanist and then her husband. They went to Woodstock in upper New York state for the recording of Stormbringer in the summer of 1969.

The Road to Ruin album, recorded in London, continued the flow of subtle improvisation, incorporating percussion and the work of three woodwind instruments. Also on hand was acoustic bassist Danny Thompson, who was to become one of the mainstays of Martyn's recording projects throughout the Seventies.

In 1981 John Martyn left Island, signing a new recording deal with WEA. His first album for the company was Glorious Fool, produced by Phil Collins. It was followed a year later by Well Kept Secret, an album whose excellence was not matched by sales.

Martyn returned to Island in the summer of 1984. He went to the Compass Point Studios in Nassau where, using a band that included Barry Reynolds (guitar), Alan Thomson (bass), Jack Waldman and James Hooker (keyboards) and 'Sticky' Thompson (percussion), he recorded the Sapphire album. It was released in November, the start of yet another chapter in a long and fascinating career.

All of John Martyn's albums have comprised of blues, rock, folk, and jazz. As an artist he is eccentric, unpredictable and unique and [he] is a talented vocalist, musician and songwriter. On Friday night he will perform material from all stages of his career but will concentrate mainly on material from the Sapphire album. Tickets are on sale at local record shops and it should also be possible to pay at the door on the night.

This announcement was published in the Galway Advertiser of Thursday 17 January 1985.