Johnny Boy Would Love This - LSM 4012

22 Aug 2011
Daily Telegraph
Martin Chilton

Johnny Boy Would Love This: A Tribute to John Martyn, CD review

Beck, David Gray, Paolo Nutini, Snow Patrol and Robert Smith are among the stars who line up to pay tribute to John Martyn.

* * * * *


By Martin Chilton, Digital Culture Editor

Johnny Boy Would Love This: A Tribute to John Martyn (Hole In The Rain Ltd)

John Martyn, who died in 2009, was described by David Gray as "a true pioneer" and it's no surprise that Gray is one of the 30 artists who have lined up to pay tribute to one of British music's most original performers and songwriters.

Gray often performs Go Down Easy at concerts but for Johnny Boy Would Love This he opens proceedings with Let The Good Things Come, which is a lovely song and a portent of what's in store in this double CD. Gray added: "As a writer John Martyn was a master of understatement, who always managed to conjure songs that were deeply poetic while using the simplest words."

Jim Tullio, who co-ordinated the album, has gone for an eclectic mix of performers to pay tribute to Martyn but few of them are his contemporaries. But their affection for his music is palpable.

Among the highlights are a soulful and throbbing version of Glorious Fool by Sam Butler and Clarence Fountain (of Blind Boys Of Alabama fame) and Stormbringer by Beck. Martyn took folk-blues into dreamy, uncharted territory and the brooding beauty of his lyrics on Stormbringer are brought out well in a 'rocky' version by Beck.

The range of artists on show is impressive. 1980s Goth Robert Smith (of The Cure) said he originally bought Martyn's One World and played it over and over and he does a respectful impressive version of Small Hours. Indie band Bombay Bicycle Club, Beth Orton, Lisa Hannigan and Paolo Nutini also contribute cover songs.

Some fine Martyn songs did not make it on to the album (Spencer The Rover and Sweet Little Mystery among them) but a breezy bluegrass version of Over The Hill by Clayhill's Ted Barnes and Gavin Clark and a funky version of Don't Want To Know by Swell Season are two of countless classics that do feature. Snow Patrol take on May You Never and Skye Edwards does the seminal Solid Air.

This CD won't replace the originals but it's a tribute with some memorable versions of great songs.

In fact the Telegraph granted 3,5 stars out of 5 but this is too hard to reproduce here.