M – is for John Martyn

Monday 22nd February

John Martyn, real name Ian McGeachy, was a folk singer from Scotland.  He combined blues and folk in a unique way and started making records in the late 60’s, but really came to fame with Stormbringer, an album recorded with his wife on vocals.  But his best albums were “Bless The Weather” and “Solid Air” in the early seventies.  There really was something special about those years.  The Beatles had been influenced by Fifties Rock’n’Roll, but so many aspiring and talented musicians were in turn influenced by The Beatles themselves and seemed to come to fruition in the early Seventies.  The title track of Solid Air is about John’s close friend Nick Drake, who sadly died the year after this album was released.  On ‘Bless the Weather’ he had one instrumental track ‘Glystening Glyndbourne’ that is truly incredible, I have never heard anything like it; it is simply incredible.

John Martyn developed a style of guitar playing using feedback and and a pedal called Echoplex, and he bent notes beautifully sometimes drifting off, especially playing live, into all echo and reverb and yet still holding onto the tune.  He had a deep gruff voice, which deteriorated with age and the prodigious amounts of alcohol he is reputed to have drunk, but somehow the rougher it got the more it suited his sad songs.  He made many records over the next three decades, but he suffered ill-health and had part of a leg amputated and died of double pneumonia in 2009.  He was a true original, one of those artists who you can recognize as soon as he starts playing or singing.  I am still collecting his remarkable records and I am never disappointed.

Bless the weather.jpg