Sixty Minutes With John Martyn

16 Apr 2007
Written by: 
Jon Kirkman

John Martyn is an important and influential figure in both British folk and rock music. Over a career that spans thirty seven years John Martyn has managed to explore a variety of styles woven together to become a style all of its own. Based around a catalogue of songs second to none John Martyn continues to explore his own particular niche.

Born in Scotland1 in 19491, John was the first white solo artist to be signed to Chris Blackwell's Island records releasing his debut album London Conversation in 19681. A number of critically acclaimed albums followed over the years including two albums with his then wife Beverley (Stormbringer and The Road To Ruin). During this period John also worked extensively with Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson, the apex of this working relationship coming with the albums Bless The Weather and Solid Air although Thompson has continued to work with John Martyn extensively over the years.

In 1975 John actually became an independent act releasing a live album, which he literally sold from his front door due to the fact that Chris Blackwell didn't think he should be releasing a live album at that point in his career. The Live At Leeds album however was a success and subsequently released in the nineties in expanded form. Island did however retain his services as a recording artist and even pressed the album up for John to sell. Following a split with Island in the early eighties John moved to the larger Warner records although returned to Island again briefly at the end of the contract. Following this coming and going John moved from between a number of smaller labels before setting up his own One World Label in order to release archive and live material.

Sixty Minutes With, features some of John's best known tracks including tracks taken from two albums recorded in the nineties which saw John revisit some of his earlier material. These albums (No Little Boy and Couldn't Love You More) saw John joined by many 'Superstar' friends such as Phil Collins and Dave Gilmour. Of the two albums John prefers No Little Boy claiming that the other album Couldn't Love You More was unfinished. From the sessions that produced these albums we have included key tracks such as Bless The Weather, Couldn't Love You More, Over The Hill and One World, which also features Dave Gilmour on guitar alongside John.

We look to two more of John's studio outings also recorded during the nineties, The Apprentice and Cooltide. From The Apprentice we have chosen Patterns In The Rain. From Cooltide we have the extended title track Cooltide.

John Martyn is also a renowned live performer and we have included a number of live tracks on this compilation. The earliest of these performances comes from the exceptional Live At Leeds album and from that album we have chosen Solid Air, which was written about John's friend and fellow Island records artist Nick Drake. We have also included the almost perennial May You Never from a concert that took place in 1986 and featured John's friend and long time musical foil, bassist Danny Thompson.

John Martyn never limited himself however to one style as can be heard on the tracks featured on this compilation.

© Jon Kirkman 2006

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