You can’t go wrong with John Martyn. His run of albums throughout the 70s on Chris Blackwell’s Island Records are truly special. From “Bless The Weather” to “Solid Air”, “Inside Out” to “Sunday’s Child” and finally “One World” and “Grace & Danger”. Timeless music. I think my favourite has to be “One World” with that stunning final track where you can hear the geese quacking as they record Martyn and Steve Winwood’s Moog across the lake. A real ambient moment. Andrew Allday and Bullion have got together and done a tribute mix to Martyn featuring some additional EQ and dubs. Allday tells us…
“Many, many years ago as a young and impressionable 16 year old I was given a tape by an older and wiser acquaintance. On one side was Van Morrison’s ’Astral Weeks’, on the other ‘Solid Air’ by John Martyn. It’s fair to say that this c90 had a huge effect on the way I listened to music. Fast forward a few years and a new recruit strolls into my workplace, Nathan, the young man who would become Bullion. An instant rapport was formed around a love of music and knowledge was shared. It was to my surprise that Nathan had never heard of John Martyn, this was immediately rectified and the great man’s oeuvre shoved forcibly into his ears. As with myself a few years previously, exposure to Mr. Martyn’s work changed the way Nathan listened to and approached music.
It’s a special artist that can have such a profound effect on those who listen to them and John Martyn seems to be universally loved by all, certainly all those I know. I’m sure there are some out there who have failed to be touched by his music but I imagine such people are a little odd. His work defies categorisation and during his career his openness to experimentation ensured a constant regeneration of his music. The ability to fuse folk, jazz, blues, rock, funk, reggae and more whilst avoiding cliché is unsurpassed and ensures that every album listened to promises new sonic surprises and intrigue.
Perhaps beyond his virtuosity as a musician John Martyn’s true appeal lies in his ability to express such raw emotion and tenderness in song. A heart of stone would be required to listen to an album like ‘Grace & Danger’ and not be moved by the heartbreak contained within, such music has often been a comfort to me during darker moments. The man himself was a walking contradiction and how someone supposedly filled with such anger could write music so beautiful and sensitive is often discussed. Who knows, surely we’re all like that at times. I was lucky enough to meet the great man not too long before his death. I watched and listened, somewhat in awe, as he sat in his wheelchair and entertained all those around whilst knocking back a pint of dark rum and orange juice, half rum half juice as I later discovered. At one point in the evening he called me a cunt, perhaps the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me.
A deep appreciation and love of Martyn’s music led myself and Nathan to attempt a tribute to him, something we hope we’ve achieved. It was a labour of love and a thoroughly enjoyable experience, best listened to with a glass in hand raised to the memory of Mr. Iain Mcgeachy. We hope you enjoy it. A & B x
A special mention must go to Joe Black & Daryl Easlea, keepers of the flame.”
This mix first aired on London’s great NTS radio station.