by Luis Feliu
ONE WORLD, John Martyn, Island Records, distributed by Festival.
A JOHN MARTYN album always makes for interesting and pleasant listening and his latest is no exception. Martyn is slowly becoming popular among a wider audience, deservedly so. His style —an incomplete fusion of folk and jazz, reggae and rock— is easy to appreciate.
The accomplished singer-songwriter never stops experimenting with his music — a healthy attitude. Though I would not class One World as good as some of his earlier work, say in Solid Air or with Beverley Martyn in The Road To Ruin and Stormbringer, it still contains some excellent tunes.
Again, he has used some fine musicians to fill out his dense and emotional sound, the most notable being Steve Winwood, whose piano and moog synthesiser contributions mix perfectly with Martyn's creative sounds. The Fairport rhythm section of bassist Dave Pegg and drummer Bruce Rowlands does justice to the folk rockers, especially (my favourite track) Dancing.
Reggae trombonist Rico adds a beautiful little solo in Certain Hours [sic HB], with its smooth, calypso flavour.
On the folk side, Couldn't Love You More, side one's opener, sets the mood — casual yet exuberant. Martyn's recent albums have usually contained extended pieces of experimentation; his echo pedal box comes out with some incredible sounds. On One World, the last tracks on each side, Small Hours and Big Muff seem to be the experimental tunes, though not necessarily inconsequential. In the rock vein, Dealer and Smiling Stranger balance the album. The title track failed to impress me.
Dancing, with its foot-tapping beat and colourful sound, is by far the best track on this album. If cut into a single, it could, and should, do really well.
If you have not yet been turned on by this great original artist, I suggest you start now. I recommend this and all his earlier albums (about eight). Martyn never fails to please.
This review appeared in the Canberra Times of Friday, 27 January 1978 on page 23.