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BFrank

Pentangle

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Somehow, I'm only recently discovering this wealth of music. I remember giving them a chance about 30 years ago when I was first listening to Fairport, but somehow this group didn't do anything for me.

I'm now finding out how diverse their influences are and how interesting and unique the musicianship is. So far, I've only downloaded stuff from EMuisc: Pentangle "Early Classics", Renbourn "Sir John Alot", Jansch "Best of", "After The Dance" and "When The Circus Comes To Town".

Any suggestions of stuff I should be looking for? I know that Renbourn has recorded quite a bit with Stephen Grossman - how are those albums?

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There's a killer Renbourn track with Tony Roberts and Keshav Sathe called "Sidi Brahim" - I have it on a CD called John Barleycorn. Amazing flute solo - just stunning in the execution and clarity of ideas.

For me, Pentangle doesn't quite hit the mark that Sandy-era FC does. I think it's the vocals. Still, great musicians, particularly Danny Thompson. The first albums are the ones for me: The Pentangle, Sweet Child, Basket Of Light, Cruel Sister. Early Classics has some of this stuff. There's another Shanachie compilation called A Maid That's Deep In Love with other stuff from this period. But the original format CDs are out there, some with bonus tracks.

At least some of the Jansch albums are out in 2-fers. I have Jack Orion/Nicola.

There's a nice Pentangle page at

http://www.kneeling.co.uk/pages/pentangle/

I'm a great fan of late 1960s British folk stuff. Seems that was a special time and place - and it didn't last long. I don't think Pentangle or FC could have happened if they started a few years later.

Has anyone got the Danny Thompson album with John McLaughlin and Tony Roberts?

http://www.voiceprint.co.uk/catalogue.php/Release/314/

It's been too expensive (and it's quite short) when I've been looking.

Mike

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There's not much for me to add after Michael's post, but count me in as another Pentangle fan. I'm amazed we're talking about his group here. :D

I got into them about 12 years ago through the Early Classics album on Shanachie. I still think that is the best introduction to the group. I didn't like A Maid That's Deep in Love as much. Eventually I got the original albums and various compilations, but my favorite is still Early Classics.

I've tried the Renbourn and Jansch solo albums. They're good, but I never got into them as much as the group. The Renbourns (on Shanachie) were cool because they used to come with separate sheet music.

I too am a big fan of late sixties british folk. I like early Fairport, but my favorites are the Incredible String Band and Nick Drake. Danny Thompson of the Pentangle recorded with Drake quite a bit. If you haven't heard Nick Drake, you're seriously missing out. I would suggest his first album Five Leaves Left or his second Bryter Later, which has both Richard and Danny Thompson on it.

I lost a few friends because of my love of the Incredible String Band. I used to play their stuff all the time. If you haven't heard them, check out the Hangman's Beautiful Daughter or Wee Tam and the Big Huge. They're not like the Pentangle, but they are an experience. If you like your folk music medieval style mixed with sitar you might want to try to hear some of their stuff. You'll probably either love them or hate them. They are one of my favorite groups of all time.

Since you're doing the emusic thing, BFrank, check out Steeleye Span. Their first album, Hark the Village Wait, is one of my favorites. I don't really like any of their other albums that much, but this one is good. This group was founded by Ashley Hutchings after he left Fairport Convention.

:g :rsmile: :g :rsmile: :g

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Pentangle and ISB. Geez I can hardly believe it. I loved this stuff back when it was coming out but haven't listened to it in god only knows how many years. Nice memories of an interesting time. Thanks for the memories B)

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Just a little self-promotion - if you like the Incredibles, Pentangle, Nick Drake, et al. you might enjoy the CD "Nature's Bride" by Pamela Wyn Shannon. All original tunes, save one. My connection is that I wrote the arrangement on Nick Drake's "I Was Made to Love Magic." Danny Thompson was supposed to guest on the album but scheduling conflicts couldn't be resolved.

http://singersong.homestead.com/folk2.html

Mike

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Pentangle never really caught my attention in the late-60s/early-70s when I came to love Fairport/Martyn/Drake/Thompson etc. I've got hold of a compilation since and have a few Jansch and Renbourne CDs and have warmed to them more; they are a lot jazzier than Fairport. I still find Jacqui McShee's voice a bit twee for me.

I strongly recommend Colin Harper's book, 'Dazzling Stranger', about Jansch. Even though Jansch is not a musician I really warm too I found the book enthralling about how this music came to be.

I too find Steeleye a bit of a disappointment - once Hutchings had left they got increasingly glitzy and never had the distinctive instrumental soloists that Fairport and Pentangle could boast.

Anyone who loves this era should check out the early 'Albion Band' recordings, the group Hutchings formed after Steeleye to play a more 'English' style - the folk of the above bands was more Scottish and Irish based. The Albions were running in one form or another for nearly 25 years and did little of great interest after about 1980. But prior to that the produced a number of stunning recordings:

No Roses - a collection of traditional songs with just about everyone from the folk-rock world on board!

The Prospect Before Us - a very nice dance tune based collection.

Rise Up Like The Sun - a truly wonderful album, very close to the dizzy heights of 'Liege and Lief'

Lark Rise to Candleford - music from a stage show of the Flora Thompson book, gorgeously evocative of late 19th/early 20thC England.

There's also a great record by an offshoot of the Albions called 'The Home Service' called 'The Mysteries' - again music from a stage show based around the medieval York Mystery Plays that tell the nativity and passion stories. Marvellous music.

***********

Fairport enthusiasts should note that Island have just remastered and released 'Fairport Convention', 'What We Did On Our Holidays' and 'Unhalfbricking' with additional tracks. Well worth getting.

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Michael,

I listened to the sound samples of Pamela Wyn Shannon. They're very nice. I wish the Nick Drake tune was there, I would have loved to have heard your arrangements.

Bev,

Thanks for your suggestions. I've never heard the Albion Band. I've heard of them, but never checked them out. I've got the Rykodisc versions of the Fairport albums. They are really good. I might just check the new versions out. That book about Jansch sounds really interesting, I'll keep my eye out for it.

:rsmile:

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Just because The Pentangle was a lot jazzier than the other British Folk/Rock bands of the time, I liked them a lot more. Danny Thompson and Terry Cox were a great team, playing with Alexis Korner's Blue Incorporated before he urged them to join the Jansch/Renbourn/McShee triumvirate. I also found Jacqui McShee's vocals more attractive because they were so clear with out the sometimes forced expressiveness of singers with a heavier rock influence. I admit, though, that her blues singing doesn't convince me either.

I have all of their original LPs and the CD versions, they were unique and an early idol for my own first band, for their fusion of folk with jazz and early music (Oregon and Shakti were the other two bands we looked up to). I never warmed up to the later reunions because they were comparatively unflexible, rhythmically. We played one of their pieces, Light Flight, with that first band, and I do play it again with my actual trio. Some of their music was downright beautiful, the last two albums, Reflection and Solomon's Seal, being my favourites (Jacqui McShee once told me Cruel Sister was her favourite). The master tapes for Solomon's Seal were presumed lost, but I have an order for a CD of it running at amazon.uk, so let me see what happens ... There also is a nice CD from Band of Joy Records with live performances from three different BBC concerts which gives a better expression of the band's live vibe than the live part of the Sweet Child double album.

I think they paved the ground for the whole folk/jazz movement, they were the pioneers.

Danny Thompson played with singer/guitarist John Martyn a lot after Pentangle's splitting, any opinions on him among you folkies?

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Thanks for all the ideas, folks. I did listen to a bit of the Steeleye Span stuff, and it is a bit slick compared to much of the other stuff mentioned here.

I was looking at the John Martyn sets, too. I thought I might listen to "No Little Boy" and "Cooltide". EMusic also has "Live at Bristol 1991: Official Bootleg", "Snooo", "Sweet Certain Surprise", "Apprentice", "Live", "Live at Leeds", "Philentropy" and "The Hidden Years". AMG has mixed reviews on most of these.

In the meantime, looks like I've got to look into getting CDs of Pentangle's Reprise catalog as well as checking out the Albion Band.

I've got to admit that one of the reasons I posted this here (rather than AAJ or JazzCorner) is that I knew that I would get an opinion from our resident Brit, Bev. Thanks for the input, Bev!

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The first albums are the ones for me: The Pentangle, Sweet Child, Basket Of Light, Cruel Sister. Early Classics has some of this stuff. At least some of the Jansch albums are out in 2-fers. I have Jack Orion/Nicola.

Mike,

You just ran through a late sixties Pentangle soundtrack for me. I also particularly liked the early ones you mentioned (I still have them) and I also have Jansch's Nicola which I played the grooves off of: Go Your Way My Love, Woe Is Love My Dear, Nicola, Box Of Love. Great songs! Great musicians. :D

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I did listen to a bit of the Steeleye Span stuff, and it is a bit slick compared to much of the other stuff mentioned here.

As far as Steeleye Span, I wouldn't bother with anything but the first album, Hark the Village Wait. I never liked their other stuff either.

Emusic is nice for trying stuff out.

:rsmile:

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Here's another vote for Pentangle.One of these days I would like to get more into the solo stuff from Jansch and Renbourn.Does anybody know if "Reflections" is available in cd form?

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I think they paved the ground for the whole folk/jazz movement, they were the pioneers.

Danny Thompson played with singer/guitarist John Martyn a lot after Pentangle's splitting, any opinions on him among you folkies?

I agree entirely about Pentangle's influence.

I suspect the different reactions to Pentangle might be a subtle difference of what music you were listening too then, and perhaps the result of a difference of a few years in age.

I first started to listen to Fairport in 1971 when I was about 16 and coming from an exclusively rock listening background - Fairport connected to that totally; whereas Pentangle came across as a bit too wispy.

I suspect anyone who had come from a folk background, perhaps listening in the mid to late-60s would hear Pentangle very differently.

One example of this is Jansch's guitar style - I am forever hearing about how innovative it was yet I cannot hear anything special in it. Now I'm not saying the claim is wrong - I totally accept the view of people who know far more about guitar than me. It's just that by the time I was listening that style was absorbed into the folk/acoustic tradition (and rock...thank you, Jimmy Page!), so I find it hard to hear what was clearly so distinctive in the mid-60s.

********

I really liked Danny Thompson playing with John Martyn - that run of LPs from 'Bless the Weather' to 'Sunday's Child' would have lost much of their magic with an electric bass - Thompson is one of the reasons for the fluid, watery sound of those recordings. I saw the pair twice - once c.1975 and again at a reunion in the late 80s. Both occasions were highly memorable. Especially the last as I'd not heard anything from Martyn that really appealed after about 1976, and here was that jazzy sound again!

Danny T is also a great character, with hilarious stage chat (they used to use him as compere for the Fairport reunions). He also led a pretty wild life in the 60s/70s apparently!

He's been touring and recording with Richard Thompson a great deal in recent years, a perfect match.

*********

P.S. Another great electric-folk recording from this era you should hear is 'Bright Phoebus' by The Watersons. The Waterson's are a North Yorkshire family who came to fame in the 60s singing unaccompanied songs in a very earthy, rural style (no Peter, Paul and Mary there!). Yet they were also absorbing the fun of the pop and rock world and in the early 70s came out with this astonishing record of self-composed material.

Very dark, very wierd, with lyrics that sound hundreds of years old. Yet with arrangements that were totaly contemporary provided by the usual folk-rockers - Richard Thompson is simply outstanding throughout the disc. Several of the tunes have gone on to become 'standards' in the folk world, most noteably 'Fine Horseman' and 'The Scarecrow.'

If that appeals then there is a wonderful word of non-electric British folk revival music out there. Guarenteed un-twee people include Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, The Dransfields, June Tabor and Dick Gaughin.

The Watersons are gone as a group (Lal Waterson died a while back) but the spirit is kept on through Waterson-Carthy - Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson and their daughter Eliza who has become something of a folk-babe of recent years with her own career mixing traditional songs and tunes with contemporary pop/rock styles.

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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Speaking of John Martyn and Danny Thompson. Here's an article from the folk magazine Dirty Linen from 1992. Martyn tells some tales about his antics with Thompson.

________________________________________________

The Triumphant Return of John Martyn

Interview with Lahri Bond;

October/ November 1992, Dirty Linen #42

The voice on the other end of the telephone line is most certainly John Martyn's. The soft Glaswegian accent and the dark timbre which is Martyn's trademark is there, yet he seemed strangely disconnected. Oh no, I immediately thought. It is well known that Martyn struggled with alcohol and many other substances for years, but I thought those days were behind him. So why the strange distance in his hello, I mean it was four in the afternoon, after all!

As it turns out, I had just woken Martyn up from a well-deserved catnap. Jet lag, time differences, and a heavy North American touring schedule, the first one in years, finally caught up with the old boy. Fearful that his wakeup call for an interview was coming from a radio D.J., he inquired hesitantly: 'Is this going direct to air or anything?' When I assured him it wasn't, he chuckled, 'Thank God for that.' Still, it seemed a call back in 15 minutes was appropriate so Martyn could fully wake up. That leaves us a little time, dear readers, to review some of John Martyn's background.

John Martyn was born in Glasgow, Scotland, some 40-odd years ago. He quickly gained respect and recognition for his songwriting, singing, and acoustic guitar playing as one half of a duo, with his wife at the time, Beverley. The couple recorded two excellent albums which were produced by folk music giant Joe Boyd, whose Witchseason Productions gave early starts to such notables from British folk/rock as Nick Drake, The Incredible String Band, and Fairport Convention. Martyn soon traded in his acoustic guitar for an electric one, and pioneered the use of a, then new, effects pedal called an 'echo-plex.' This allowed Martyn to play against an ever-changing curtain of echoing sound and started many a young guitar player experimenting with the device, including a young Irishman who would trade in his Christian name for the title 'The Edge' and use that same effect to pilot himself and his band to fame.

While Beverley was busy at home raising the couple's children, John was off raising hell with his long time musical foil and indulgence partner, Danny Thompson. It was two solo albums that Martyn recorded after his initial efforts with Beverley that really brought him fame. Bless the Weather and Solid Air showed a more mature, confident Martyn writing darker, smokier songs which were sung in his smooth whiskey drenched voice. His inflections started to slur with a jazz scat singer's precision and Danny Thompson's double bass provided the right improvisational counterpoint to meld Martyn's music into a hybrid of folk and jazz, much in the way Thompson had done with Pentangle.

This duo was a mainstay of festivals and clubs for much of the seventies, touring all over the world and wreaking havoc in every pub on the way. The eighties saw John touring with a full electric band, all but abandoning his folk past for a slicker, cooler, jazzy sound.

The nineties finds Martyn still on the road, minus the substance abuse and with a hot electric band that includes Spencer Cozens on keyboards; Jerry Underwood on sax and horns; fretless electric bass virtuoso Alan (no relation) Thomson, and sometimes legendary folk, rock drummer Gerry Conway, who has pounded the skins for everybody including Cat Stevens, Sandy Denny, Pentangle, Jethro Tull, Richard Thompson, and Big Mama Thornton.

Martyn himself is more vital than ever. His live shows remind us what a thing of beauty a screaming electric guitar can be. He has a new album called Cooltide that was just released in the States by Permanent Records (distributed by BMG) and his shows have included music from most periods of his career, including a very welcome, but much too brief acoustic solo spot. Upon calling back his hotel, I found a much more attentive and awake Martyn who offered apologetically: 'It's so hot here. The temperature disagrees with me, I kinda snoozed out. But carry on dear boy...' - and so we do.

We started with Martyn's musical beginnings in Glasgow and the rich folk scene which was blossoming in Britain in the early sixties...

'I learned to play off a man named Hamish Imlach, who was not a fabulous musician, but he had a great attitude. I liked his guitar playing.'

What about people like Bert Jansch, I inquired...?

'I was more influenced by Davey Graham, who influenced a lot of people at the time like Bert. Later I met the Incredible String Band. I would support them on folk club gigs and get three or four quid. They had a club on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow called Clive's Incredible Folk Club. It was great. I saw all kinds of people there, most of them dead now... Alex Campbell, Josh McCrae, also a few American guys like Arlo Guthrie and Spider John Koerner. I used to tour regularly with Archie Fisher, Hamish and Josh. I was the kid though, I was the boy. I was brought up with traditional music. I don't think you ever escape that. (My family) had the usual Scottish Presbyterian Sunday afternoons, you know, sit around the piano and sing.'

It wasn't long before Martyn was writing his own material and playing solo gigs in Scotland as well as investigating the thriving musical scene in London.

'I was at the University and used to play folk clubs on the weekends and evenings, just for fun and something to do. You could watch all the guitar players and learn stuff. Then one night some guy came up to me and said I will make you a star, would you like a recording contract? It was a guy called Theo Johnson. He knew Chris Blackwell who owned Island Records. They had just put together (believe it or not) a pair of albums of bawdy rugby ballads, which were the first two albums that ever came out on Island. Through organizing that, Theo introduced me to Chris Blackwell, who was very sweet and gave me my first record deal.'

London Conversation was released in 1968 and reflected the influences of the time, including the first noodles on the echo-plex.

'I introduced myself to it. I wanted more sustain. It was actually a WHAM copycat I bought first. It only had three speed settings but I discovered it did more if you played with it rather than just use it as an effect. It allowed me to do things other people didn't do. It was kind of an accident really.'

The time in London was indeed fruitful. Martyn was a regular at Les Cousins, the experimental music club on Greek Street. He also toured the local clubs, coffeehouses, and universities, where he met his wife to be, Coventry singer Beverley Kutner.

'She had a relationship with Joe Boyd, who was trying to get her a record deal. She walked into this gig I was playing at the art college. I was playing a little floor spot and she came up and asked me if I could play her a couple of tunes. So I did. She said, would I like to play guitar for her on an album, and I said that would be great. One thing led to another and we kinda shacked up together. By the time it came close to getting a deal, we had written a whole lot of songs and were playing all over the place and that was that. We just kinda fell together.'

Shortly afterward, the couple got married and Joe Boyd became their record producer. The two albums that resulted, Stormbringer! and The Road to Ruin further enhanced their image as Britain's royal couple of folk music.

'It was great. It was like another world. We got a huge recording deal with Warner Brothers and they took us to upstate New York. We lived there for a while in Woodstock.'

The Martyn's Road to Ruin album particularly reflects that time. Members of The Band played on it, and the flower child ethic which so typified Woodstock was echoed in the liner notes on the album's back cover: 'I think we can safely say quite categorically (emphasis) that this music has nothing to do with dying or anything like that... lots of love, John and Bev.' Shortly afterward, John began work on what was to be his first solo album after his marriage. It was widely reported that this was due to Beverley being busy with the couple's children and for that reason temporarily retiring.

Today, John offers a further footnote: 'The record company decided they weren't really too wild about Beverley. They wanted me to record.' Record he did. Two albums that to this day are the foundation of much of Martyn's popularity. Bless the Weather and Solid Air paired Danny Thompson and Martyn together and provided a set of songs that remain favorites among Martyn's followings. Besides the two title tracks, there was 'Spencer the Rover,' 'Head and Heart,' 'Over the Hill,' 'Glistening Glyndebourne' and Martyn's most requested tune 'May You Never' (which was a minor hit for Eric Clapton later on). 'Solid Air' was said to be written about and for Martyn's long time friend and fellow musician Nick Drake, who died tragically young, shortly afterwards (see the Nick Drake article elsewhere in this issue).

'I knew him very well. He was on Witchseason as well. He lived very close to us in England. I think we influenced the way each other played. We played together often at each other's houses.'

Pressed for any more remembrances, Martyn politely declined. After 15 years the subject of Drake's untimely death still obviously pains Martyn. He did say, however, he will take part in a much anticipated tribute album to Nick Drake. 'I'm gonna do a couple of tunes on that. I haven't really decided which songs I'll do. I think 'Time Has Told Me.' There are a few others too. The music is just as beautiful as it ever was. He deserves more recognition than he got.'

In 1973 Martyn released Inside Out, which gave the echo-plex its full monstrous voice. Once again paired with Thompson and with studio help from such notables as Steve Winwood and Chris Wood from Traffic, Martyn alternated from the pyrotechnics of 'Make No Mistake' to a lounge lizard cover of 'The Glory of Love.'

His tours were already becoming the thing of legends. With Thompson and Martyn expanding both musical horizons and mind altering frontiers, they all but turned away from any hints of folk music.

In a 1990 Q magazine interview he explained: 'I just got the heave with Donovan and Cat Stevens and all that terribly nice rolling up joints and sitting on toadstools, watching the sunlight dapple its way through the dingly dell of life's rich pattern stuff. I consciously turned away from all that.'

The pair were as well known for their antics as much as for either musical virtuosity. When I asked if there were any good stories he could recount, he replied, with a laugh: 'What kind of story would you like? They're too numerous to mention.' Searching his memory for a moment, he offered: 'We once played naked in Bolton.' John provided the following details: 'We were always having bets with each other. We bet either one of us wouldn't have the nerve to take off an article of clothing between each song. So we just did and needless to say we ended up naked. The audience loved it, there were about 700 people. It was good because Danny could hide behind his double bass and I could hide behind the guitar.... It was alright!'

Martyn at this point breaks his straightfaced telling of the tale for a moment of uproaring laughter. 'It must have looked funny from the back. The backstage view would have been quite educational, a-ha!'

Satisfied with one good story, I was about to move on to the next question, when Martyn, now obviously on a roll, offered dryly: 'He nailed me under the carpet once.' 'He did what?' I replied with visions of Monty Python images dancing in my brain. 'We used to drink a great deal together. I got really drunk one night and woke up and he had nailed me under the carpet. I couldn't move my hands or feet. I was very dry and had a hangover and I said (raspy voiced) Danny, please... get me, get me a drink. So he stepped over my helpless body, went to the phone and in a very loud voice said, can I have a glass of orange juice for one, please. Breakfast for one, please. I was screaming blue murder by this time. I was furious! He met the guy in the hall, so the guy couldn't get into the room and see what was happening. He sat in front of me and downed the orange juice and had the breakfast.'

'The following evening I got my revenge. I got him really drunk while I remained sober. I watered down my drinks. He was so drunk, he just got to bed. I put his watch up five hours. He'd only been asleep about 15 minutes. I shook him viciously and I said (in a rushed voice) - Danny, Danny, come on, come on, we gotta go, oh fuck man, the gig, we're gonna miss the gig, come on man, we gotta get a flight, come on man, come on, come on, we gotta go!

'He just went balaaahhh.

'I said, I'll see you in the lobby. I went down to the front desk and got myself another room and locked myself in there. I snuck downstairs and there he was, wandering around aimlessly, with his big double bass and half of his shirt hanging out. It was about two in the morning, you see. He was under the impression it was half past seven. It was wonderful!!!

'Things like that went on all the time. We had sort of a running battle. He's given up drinking all together, as have I. We still have a great deal of fun. We've played a few gigs together (recently) and probably will again.'

In 1975 the Live at Leeds album captured the pair's shows at their jazzy best. Martyn then took a four month trip to Jamaica, where in spite of various racial confrontations, he got to play with such notables as Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Burning Spear. The results were the island-influenced One World album with his self-mythologizing version of 'Johnny Too Bad.' His version transformed the reggae standard into a strutting funk workout. But the song proved prophetic as years of the road and music over home and domesticity led to the collapse of Martyn's marriage to Beverley. An album of harrowing honesty resulted, called Grace and Danger. Described by Martyn as his 'Oh dear, my baby done left me, come back please, baby, baby record.' The Martyns' close friend Chris Blackwell found the album so disturbing he delayed its release for a year.

Grace and Danger was also the starting point of Martyn's long term association with Phil Collins as drummer and producer. At around the same time, Collins' marriage had broken up, so the two found much common ground. Martyn explained in a 1990 interview: 'We were both going through emotional trauma, so there was vast amounts of going down to the potting shed together and weeping. We'd both have these horrendous phone calls. I'd phone Beverley and it would be 'aaargh!' and then it would be Phil's turn. We were both making ourselves terribly miserable and then playing and singing about it, sob!'

Glorious Fool followed in 1981, with Collins aiding Martyn's move from Island to Warner Bros. and adding a much slicker commercial sheen to Martyn's recorded sound. Old fans felt somewhat betrayed by the sound and Martyn's taking to wearing well-tailored suits in concert, but it was time for new ground to be covered. Such well-worn concert favorites as 'Jack the Lad' and the passionately angry 'John Wayne' came from the next two albums, Well Kept Secret and the Robert Palmer collaboration Sapphire. Live albums Philentropy and Foundations even sported electric versions of such acoustic favorites as 'May You Never.'

Piece by Piece in 1986 further confirmed Martyn's dedication to jazz style improvisations, and [sapphire, 1984, ed.] included a version of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' set against a sparse and bubbly synth tape loop. This little experiment went to number 17 in the British charts and number two in Sweden. Martyn reflects on his most recent 'hit' with wry humor in concert - 'I don't know about this 'Wizard of Oz' movie, you know, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore Toto,' he recounts sarcastically.

'It always seemed to have thinly veiled drug references. You know, they go to sleep in a field of poppies and wake up covered in snow.'

The nineties have found a happier, cleaned up, and more confident Martyn. His 1990 album, The Apprentice, has won universal praise and his new album, Cooltide, is faring well. His live shows are as entertaining as ever.

Beverley Martin is even touring again in Britain. 'I saw her a couple of weeks ago,' Martyn admitted. 'She's in great shape. She's writing beautiful songs and playing very well.'

Are any future collaborations planned, I wondered? 'Oh I doubt it, but we'll see. Stranger things have happened.'

So how does Martyn feel about his influence over a generation of guitar players, particularly all the 'rattle and hum' over a certain Irish guitar player's use of the echo-plex sound?

'I think I've influenced more people on acoustic guitar, really. The backslap thing I do, I hear everywhere now, especially in folk clubs. I don't like U2, to be honest, they sound like a pub band to me. They're kind of dull. I prefer a lot of jazz really. Steps in the Dark, David Sanborn, David Sancious.... Modern stuff.... Joseph Zawinul still produces good music.'

And what of Martyn's own music these days? What's next?, I asked.

'At the moment I'm in the midst of re-recording a lot of stuff like 'Solid Air' and 'Man in the Station' in a more modern fashion. It's 'John Martyn's Greatest Hits,' I suppose,' he says with a laugh. 'I'm recording them with different line-ups. Phil Collins will be on a couple of things, also Bonnie Raitt. We're trying for an October release, maybe.'

Does this mean no more echo-plex?

'I just use an updated version,' he says with a sigh and laugh. 'Digital, old bean, digital.'

note:

The four page interview was illustrated with various pictures and record sleeves. Other items interesting items were an article about Nick Drake and an interview with Dr John.

Dirty Linen/ Folk, Electric Folk, Traditional and World Music was published in Baltimore, USA, in a circulation of 8.000 copies. This issue originally cost $ 3.50.

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Thanks for posting that. Odd though: the author/interviewer obviously wasn't a fan - no fan would make the mistake of thinking Spencer The Rover was on Bless The Weather or Solid Air. A few other obvious errors too.

My own recommendations for someone about to try JM would be Solid Air or Bless The Weather first, then Inside Out or One World next. I haven't heard (but have just ordered - £9.99 incl UK postage via JM's own site) Live At Leeds, but that's said to be a classic live recording. I also have a soft spot for Sapphire - the first of his albums I ever bought - quite unique and experimental, yet soulful and organic, use of synths.

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Live at Leeds is wonderful...not brilliantly recorded, but still wonderful!

A pity the BBC have not released some of the stuff he recorded in the mid-70s for them. I used to have a tape of a session where they did absolutely marvellous extended, spaced-out versions of things like Inside Out.

Martyn was struggling with a crude piece of modern technology thereby producing extraordinary and individual sounds. The rise of the synth may have made making wierd sounds easier but it ultimately ended up sounding much more bland.

Sorry! I'm a complete reactionary where synths are involved!

**********

I hope Island take on that classic Martyn catalogue in the way they've spring cleaned the likes of Fairport, Free and Traffic. I have crackly old vinyl of 'Bless the Weather', 'Inside Out' and 'Sunday's Child', the latter being especially battered. They did a good job on 'Solid Air' a year or so back. Finish the job please!

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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My Sunday's Child is a knackered one too. I'm not even all that fond of most of the songs on it (though You Can Discover is up there with his best), but I listen to it now and then for the vibe - Danny Thompson's a large part of that - I haven't hear anyone else play the double bass the way he does.

I've also ordered Live In Milan (1979) fom Voiceprint (thanks for drawing attention to that site, Mike) - solo Martyn, with his box of tricks.

I do actually like the use of synths on Sapphire, and I even like his glossy late 70's and 80's sound when I'm in the mood, but for me, the essential JM is with acoustic or echoplex guitar and Danny Thompson's bass in harness.

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Speaking of John Martyn and Danny Thompson. Here's an article from the folk magazine Dirty Linen from 1992. Martyn tells some tales about his antics with Thompson.

:g:g:g Thanks for posting that Interview! LMAO; ROTF :g:g:g

Bev, could you recommend any of Richard Thompson's albums with Danny Thompson? Thanks!

Edited by mikeweil

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A pity the BBC have not released some of the stuff he recorded in the mid-70s for them. I used to have a tape of a session where they did absolutely marvellous extended, spaced-out versions of things like Inside Out.

**********

I hope Island take on that classic Martyn catalogue in the way they've spring cleaned the likes of Fairport, Free and Traffic. I have crackly old vinyl of 'Bless the Weather', 'Inside Out' and 'Sunday's Child', the latter being especially battered. They did a good job on 'Solid Air' a year or so back. Finish the job please!

I have a 15 minute version of Outside In recorded for the BBC in 1977, on Windsong WINCD 012, released in 1992, "John Martyn, BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert".

Is that what you're talking about? (the majority of the tracks on this CD is from a 1986 concert).

The Tumbler, Stormbringer, Bless The Weather, Solid Air, One World, Inside Out have all been on Island CDs in the late 1980's, maybe more.

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Probably not, Mike. I think the tape I had was recorded c.1972 or 1973. I recorded it off on of the BBC 'Sounds of the Seventies' programmes that used to go out on weekdays between 10 pm and 12 pm...those were the days!!!! By 1977 I no longer had any form of recording off the radio.

Yes, I know the Islands have been CD-ised by Island - but like much first generation CD the quality of transfer has been variable. In the last few years they've been working on properly remastered versions - thus the recent Fairport reissues going into their second CD incarnation.

**********

Danny Thompson has been on most of Richard T's discs since Mirror Blue where he gives a marvelous pulse to 'Easy There, Steady Now.' He also did a joint project with him around the same time called 'Industry', a not particularly successful project based on the decline of British industry (now there's a great rock'n roll theme!), mainly instrumental. He's on RTs most recent disc, 'The Old Kit Bag.'

I strongly recommend a live 2CD set available from the RT website called 'Two Letter Words.'

I think Danny Thompson has freed up a great deal of RTs music in recent years - he seemed to lock into some fairly metronomic beats in his late 80s/early 90s discs, especially in the faster stuff. Danny T seems to allow the music to breath again.

Look out for the 80s discs by Danny Thompson's band 'Whatever' that mixed jazz with British and Eastern European folk.

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I had never heard any of John Martyn's music but now you've got me curious.

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Buy 'Solid Air' (in the recently remastered version).

The rest will follow!

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I've just been waxing lyrical, inspired by another listen to Inside Out, on BFrank's 'John Martyn' thread.

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An Albion Band recording I forgot:

Battle of the Field - first released in 1976 though recorded three years earlier by a version of the many prototypes that went under the title 'Albion Country Band.' As well as Hutchings you get Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Sue Harris and Simon Nicol. A wonderful recording, worth it for the glorious tune 'Battle of the Somme.' I saw this line-up in 1973...my second ever rock concert! No wonder my tastes got wierd!

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Buy 'Solid Air' (in the recently remastered version).

The rest will follow!

Thanks Bev. :D

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