Posted on July 23 2020
Just finished Graeme Thomson's new book on John Martyn 'Small Hours: The Long Night of John Martyn' which I fully recommend. It's a well researched account of the big man which doesn't hold back on the bad times (and worse behaviour) but also celebrates the extraordinary run of music he created in the 70's and early 80's. I haven't really listened to John Martyn much in the last 25 years, having played the LPs obsessionally as a teenager his music is still in my head so going back to them now after reading this book has been nostalgic.
I counted up and saw him live around 13 times between 1981 and 1987 going on a journey with him from the sublime at the Liverpool Royal Court Theatre in 1981 to the horrific at the Harlesden Mean Fiddler in 1987, where seeing him vomit into a bucket on stage was, needless to say, the end of the road for me.
I moved onto other musical pastures in the late eighties and nineties and so fortunately didn't see his sad and inevitable decline but his legacy is his beautiful timeless run of records from 'Bless The Weather' to 'Glorious Fool'. Whether you can separate the music from the story is a difficult question and one that Graeme Thomson skillfully addresses, providing a balanced account of what ultimately is a tragic tale.
A busy week on the release front so here are the highlights:
1. Shirley Collins - Heart's Ease (Domino Recordings)
The grand Dame of British folk returns again, her 2nd after a 38 year absence. Heart felt traditional folk, a soothing balm for these times.
2. Jon Hassell - Seeing Through Sound (Ndeya)
More genre defying fusion mood music from the 'Fourth World' pioneer and octogenarian. Forward thinking music, exploratory and sensual.
3. VA - Kaleidoscope - New Spirits Known and Unknown (Soul Jazz Records)
The ever reliable Soul Jazz bring us a flying independent UK jazz compilation, if you are late to this then it's a great jumping in point, if you aren't then you know... We have the CD version and the Ltd 2 x LP including 7". we also have the Theon Cross/ Pokus 12" from the album.
4. Kamaal Williams - Wu Hen (Black Focus)
More future/retro jazz funk from the London keyboardist, 'Mr Wu' sounds almost like 90's jazzy house to my ears, wonderful.
5. Rose City Band - Summerlong (Thrill Jockey)
Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips/Moon Duo) brings us a psychedelic country rock album, like a modern day jam band take on Grateful Dead, absolutely marvellous. We have two different coloured vinyl versions and the CD.
6. PJ Harvey - Dry (Too Pure) Dry Demos (UMC)
Has this on cassette back in '92 and thought she sounded like Patti Smith fronting the Pixies, listening to it again, I wasn't far off. The debut from a prodigious talent, not repressed before on vinyl so well worth adding to your collection, we also have the Demos LP, stand alone for the first time.
7. Brian Setzer - Ignition!, Brian Setzer & The Brian Setzer Orchestra - The Ultimate Collection Volume 1 & 2
The finest in rockabilly, we have a re-issue of Ignition! on transparent yellow vinyl and two live 'best of' albums with his orchestra on Green and Orange transparent vinyl. Boom!
8. Primal Fear - Metal Commando (Nuclear Blast)
Melodic metal riffage from the Germans, Judas Priest style.
9. The Acacia Strain - Slow Decay (Rise Records)
For metalcore fans we have the new LP from the Massachusetts metal band on CD and gold vinyl and for those with a penchant for black/death metal we have two re-issue LPs on coloured vinyl from Absu.
10. ABBA - The Studio Collection
And for dessert we have left best to last. Forget the 'guilty pleasure' nonsense, just great timeless pop music. All the studio LPs on individual coloured vinyl, a must have.
Over and out
David - Nightfly Records
Phew! Here's a playlist: