JOHN MARTYN: "INSIDE OUT" (ISLAND ILPS 9253).
JOHN MARTYN'S most intrinsic and progressive album to date centres around that universal panacea, love, in its most simplistic form. Inside Out overreaches everything John has striven for in the past, although whether it is necessary to be in the same state of mind to appreciate this as John was when he recorded it, I'm still undecided on. The album represents about forty minutes of constant kinetic energy, generated from a nucleus of John Martyn, Danny Thompson, Remi Kabaka, Stevie Winwood, Chris Wood and Chris Stuart in the early hours of the morning at Island Studios. Some of the material is entirely melodic, some totally percussive, some worked to a careful structure whilst other tracks sound the result of sheer studio spontaneity. The energy which this ensemble transmits comes to a head in the outstanding Outside In which recedes after some pacy bass work from Thompson and fierce harmonics from Martyn to a beautiful middle section of counterpoint between Danny Thompson and Chris Wood – with some striking cymbal work helping to enhance the mood. If Mark-Almond1 had come half way towards emulating the music on this cut they would surely have felt fulfilled. John Martyn takes his love chanting into a more moderate piece of work on the final track of side one – the traditional Glory Of Love which features some nice little country blues progressions and makes an interesting comparison with Singing In The Rain from an earlier album. The most striking aspect of the album, though, is the extra power and vocal range which John manifests –something he has undoubtedly worked on in the belief that the voice is another instrument which can add or subtract from the mood– but at the same time Inside Out is probably the most abstract album he has made (isn't love an abstract theme anyway!). Only the inexplicable inclusion of an Irish air with simulated pipe drone created by Danny Thompson,2 breaks the continuity of an album which is eminently serene and glistens with the glory of love. As though running out of steam John concludes the album with two of his tenderest love ballads, Ways To Cry and So Much In Love With You with more of those delightful electric guitar effects that he has now patented. - J.G.
This review was published in Sounds of 13 October 1973, Albums section, page 30. Bryan Ferry's These Foolish Things opened the proceedings.
JG refers to reviewer Jerry Gilbert.
1 Mark-Almond: jazz-influenced English pop group of the 1970s and early 1980s, also known as The Mark-Almond Band (core members Jon Mark and Johnny Almond).
2 Eibhli Ghail Chiuin Ni Chearbhail.