Bless The Weather - John Martyn
1 CD(s) - Singer/Songwriter - Label: Island - Distributor: Universal Music - Released: 07/1991 - 42284897228
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Review of "Bless The Weather - John Martyn"
John Martyn was a very talented British singer/songwiter/musician, who attracted a strong interest and following during the 1970s (less so in the '80s),.But he enjoyed little commercial recognition, despite his best albums selling steadily over the years. Although Martyn started out as a folk artist in the late 1960s, by the time of this release, jazz and blues influences had crept into his repertoire. By the '80s, Martyn's studio albums had changed noticeably in musical style, devoid of any folk influence, but not some might say, for the better.Bless The Weather, released in 1971 is John Martyn's fifth album, and arguably his best. It originally included ten tracks, nine songs plus one superb instrumental jam. What the original album managed to achieve is the near perfect blend of contemporary folk and jazz. And with John's expressive vocals, he hardly puts a foot wrong here. The CD's photograph cover hints at the atmosphere of the whole album, which is laid back, and makes great late night listening. But at the same time it completely manages to grab the listener's attention throughout. This review is based on the original CD with the ten tracks, as shown under Ciao's product listing.
Go Easy is the ideal opener, having a lethargic and lazy feel to it, and sets up the whole mood of the album. Bless The Weather the title track, demonstrates the perfect fusion of jazz and folk. Danny Thompson, a veteran UK jazz double bassist, who accompanies John Martyn has a strong presence here and features on most of the album. In fact much of the time during the '70s he was the only musician to accompany Martyn on stage and has a complete empathy for Martyn's guitar playing and music. Sugar Lump is the only disappointment on this CD. It just isn't up to the high standard of the other songs. Walk On The Water features an xylophone giving a watery feel to the track. Just Now is a highly melodic and sincere song about relationships, with John accompanying himself on guitar and with a piano in the background. It closes the first half of the album.Head And Heart starts the second half, more upbeat and again strongly features Danny Thompson. This is the most commercial sounding track of the album, and is a very catchy number. Let The Good Times Come deserves a special mention. It features John's (then) wife and former recording partner, Beverly Martyn. Here she uses her echoed voice as a background instrument. The result is highly haunting and effective. Back Down The River is a plain and gentle song, just John on his own, short and sweet. We then come to the climax of the whole album, Glistening Glyndebourne. This is a six and a half minute instrumental jam. It starts out building slowly for a couple of minutes with piano, double bass and guitar, before markedly picking up tempo, and adding congas and drums. Martyn for the first time uses the Echoplex on his guitar, which adds rhythmic layers of sound to the whole piece, a technique that he was to feature prominently on future recordings and live performances. Martyn finally closes out with a short but idiosyncratic version of Singing In The Rain. On its own this track would be questionable, but in context of the whole album, it's included as a light-humoured contrast to the previous extraordinary track and wraps up the album, beautifully.
It's easy to throw superlatives at at an album or artist that you like. John Martyn was a musician I greatly admired in the 1970s, but not so much after then. Once he crossed paths with Phil Collins, he decided to try to embark on a more commercial sound using awful synthesizers and drum machines on much of his studio work since. In retrospect Collins did Martyn's career no favours whatsoever, although Martyn's live performances continued to please.Thankfully, Bless The Weather and a couple of other excellent '70s John Martyn albums demonstrate his musical talents at their natural and very best. If you are looking for quality and a change from all the dross put out nowadays then I cannot recommend this album too highly. It takes a few listens to get into it properly, but it is a real grower and one I've never got tired of listening to over the years.In this particular case I believe less is definitely more as the mood and song sequence of the album is highly dependent on the original ten tracks. Seven bonus tracks (11-17) have now been added to the latest CD version. Six of these are re-workings or demos of the originals, but are not improvements. The last track (17) May You Never, was originally released on Martyn's next album in 1973, which featured him playing this solo. The version here is with a band and sounds like it was recorded much later than that, so it hardly has any place on the CD. If you can pick up the original CD then buy that instead of the one with the bonus tracks, as they may interfere with the mood created.
Meanwhile here's a flavour of what this guy was about with 2 live BBC performances.For his folksy style and his best known song try . And for his use of the Echoplex, there is: ... Enjoy.*** John Martyn received an OBE in the 2008 New Year Honours list. ***
Product Information : Bless The Weather - John Martyn
Manufacturer's product description1 CD(s) - Singer/Songwriter - Label: Island - Distributor: Universal Music - Released: 07/1991 - 42284897228
Listed on Ciao since: 23/04/2005