John Martyn — Live at the Bottom Line, New York 1983
(Voiceprint One World OW116CD, 1983/2001, CD)
John Martyn — Sweet Certain Surprise
(Voiceprint One World OW119CD, 1977/2001, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2002-09-01
What is remarkable in this last set of two live rarities from guitarist and vocalist John Martyn is that the two performances continue to show an expanding range within different periods of the man's thirty years plus career. Sweet Certain Surprise is a semi-legitimate release of well-circulated Martyn bootleg of a 1977 U.S. performance that captures several rare tracks with add-ons. Martyn had just come off a self-imposed performing hiatus that he maintains saved his career and it shows. Acclaimed albums such as Bless the Weather are well represented, as the title track is included along with a delicate version of the live set's opening piece, "Head and Heart." "Man in the Station" from Solid Air received a surprise ovation as the composer describes a train leaving on the tracks homeward bound. Stripped down versions of "My Baby Girl" from Sunday's Child paired with "Certain Surprise" and "Couldn't Love You More" from One World demonstrate the solo performer at his best. Tagged onto to the original boot are four songs from a 1981 full band performance that includes a pulsing rendition of the rare Jamaican tinged track, "Big Muff."
In contrast the 1983 show finds Martyn together with bassist Alan Thomson and drummer Jeffrey Allen at the long established jazz club, the Bottom Line. The set is culled from mostly 80s catalog material except for a few re-worked pieces from Sunday's Child ("Root Love") and the blues standard "I'd Rather be the Devil" from Solid Air. The performance finds the guitarist in his gritty electric mode that characterizes his style of the day. Probably the most effective songs on the disc include "Didn't Do That" (where Martyn sounds uncannily like Eric Johnson of all people) and the bouncy "Johnny Too Bad." Included for good measure is the rare soundtrack piece, "Anna," a slow ballad that bemoans bad luck searching for a lost love. As Martyn is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in his career, there is no doubt that there is certainly plenty of quality material to draw from.
Related artist(s): John Martyn
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Gargantua & Cashmere - Kotegarda & Cash Romantic Music Machine – These two surprising releases come to us by way of Poland, both prominently featuring violinist, vocalist and songwriter Tylda Ciołkosz, who is also a member of the more keyboard oriented group Van.... (2008) » Read more