Thursday, 22 November 2007

Solid Air - John Martyn

The album I never expected to buy

Solid Air - John Martyn

Beardy faced acoustic based singer song writers have little appeal and minimal interest for me - John martyn was the bloke who wrote 'May You Never' on Clapton's deeply dreary album 'Slowhand'and one of thé performers I skipped on the marvelous Old Grey Whistle Test DVDs to get another performance.

I was always thought Nick Drake would be my token folky concession. So I bought all the albums, played all the albums and found him a bit like Scandinavia - isolated , icy, prone to extended periods of darkness - and not some where I wanted to spend much time.

Ironically it was a song about Nick Drake 'Solid Air' that drew me into the world of John Martyn. This was a much broader musical geography the folky trappings of 'Over The Hill' and smoky trimmings of 'Solid Air' and 'Don't Want To Know' give it the weight and warmth of a late night Jazz club or intimate acoustic performance, all perfectly underpinned by Danny Thompson's gliding bass lines. And the echoplex reverb adding an almost dubbish depth to the folk funk of 'Dreams By The Sea'.

Solid Air the album is as rich, plummy and fruity as a bottle of vintage red wine, each note plucked drops glossily from the guitar and oozes out of the speakers on all tracks but particularly on the understated eroticism of 'Go Down Easy' and gentle lullaby of 'May You Never'.

May you never lay your head down
Without a hand to hold
May you never make your bed out in the cold.

Davey Graham, Bert jansch and Nick Drake are are all genius acoustic technicians, but none of them have John Martyn's intuitive touch and feel for delivering the full flavour of a song.

I still don't have much interest in beardy faced acoustic based singer song writers - but 'Solid Air', John Martyn (the weighty Marlon Brando to Nick Drakes whispy James Dean) and his 70s albums are a joy. I don't skip John Martyn any more instead I sit and study his tone and technique - why not try it yourself?

Watch the fiddle finger moves at the very end of 'May You Never'.

Recommended Reading


wastedpapiers said...

Glad to hear you are catching up with the rest of us! Scandinavia is pretty wonderful too- Norway in the Summer is the most beautiful place in the world!

ally. said...

may you never is just a gorgeous gorgeous thing. you'd think there'd be more songs to friends.