John Martyn: imaginative electric guitar
John Martyn: Sunday's Child (Island)
The success of John Martyn's latest album and of his recent U.K. tour have been two of the most hopeful aspects of British rock in the first part of 1975. For years John had been an artist consigned to the obscurism of folk clubs and the modesty of second on the bill of a larger concert. But Martyn has stuck to his task, built a following through graft and a series of fine albums of which Sunday's Child is the latest and, in Britain, most successful.
John does nothing on the album he hasn't been doing for the past three albums. He expands his simple songs by imaginative, masterful electric guitar work (Root Love and Clutches are not to be missed) with Danny Thompson's supremely effective double bass demonstrating how much more colour that instrument can lend a song compared to the stiffer electric bass. Contrasted with the 'heaviness' of the bulk of Martyn's music is his unashamed delight in cuteness. My Little Girl is a delightful little poem to his daughter, and sandwiched between the earthy Root Love and the brooding Sunday's Child, a desperate title track, its effect is heightened.
Martyn breathes a fresh, modern life into traditional material like Spencer The Rover, which has a lovely contented mood. He slips in two choruses of Mhairi's Wedding into The Message and smoothly drawls through the bluesy Satisfied Mind. Perhaps the span of Martyn's music is best seen through two tracks on the second side of the album – both about his relationship with a woman. Clutches is downright funky as he celebrates his woman's special qualities which keep him clinging to her like a limpet, and You Can Discover is another wistful, thoughtful yet deeply happy ballad as his woman draws him out. John Martyn's music has as many tonal colours as leaves on a tree. It makes for wonderful listening. Buy Sunday's Child and hear colours. – G.B.
It is unclear where and when this review was published. Based upon the recent tour having been finished, I placed it provisionally on the first of April.