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Solid Air [Original recording remastered]

John Martyn Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
Price: £4.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
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Frequently Bought Together

Solid Air + One World + Bless The Weather
Price For All Three: £14.72

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Product details

  • Audio CD (23 Oct 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Universal / Island
  • ASIN: B00004YVOG
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,827 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Solid Air (Album Version) 5:44£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Over The Hill (Album Version) 2:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Don't Want To Know (Album Version) 3:01£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. I'd Rather Be The Devil (Devil Got My Woman) (Album Version) 6:17£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Go Down Easy (Album Version) 3:35£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Dreams By The Sea (Album Version) 3:17£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. May You Never (Album Version) 3:40£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. The Man In The Station (Album Version) 2:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. The Easy Blues 3:21£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. I'd Rather Be The Devil (Devil Got My Woman) (Live Version) 6:11£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Throughout his 30-year-plus career, Scottish musician John Martyn had touched on an eclectic range of sounds and styles. His continuous work in the jazz, blues, folk and rock fields has resulted in some fantastic music though, somehow, Martyn never really got his full props. The title track on Solid Air is a tribute song to his then depressed friend Nick Drake, which immediately lends a sentimental streak to the LP. The rest of the album reveals its charms in a respectful manner, slowly but surely crystallising much of his earlier work into a coherent yet diverse whole. Using his soft, almost whispery vocal style and gifted guitar phrasing as connecting threads throughout the LP, Martyn offers up a sprawling mesh of dark blues, progressive electric guitar, deep, tribal rock and lighter jazz to make what was one of the biggest benchmark albums of his career. --Paul Sullivan

BBC Review

By 1973, John Martyn - still at the tender age of 25 - had racked up five albums (two with then wife, Beverly). At the age of 17 his jazzy folk had caught the ear of Chris Blackwell of Island records and while he was a favourite on the club circuit prevalent in those far off days, he had yet to really define his sound. Solid Air changed all that for good.

The real breakthrough in Martyn's sound had really come with the previous album, Bless The Weather. The reasons were threefold: Firstly he'd joined forces with a man with whom he'd be linked for decades to come - ex-Pentangle bass player, Danny Thompson. Danny's double bass profundities were the perfect accompaniment to John's fine finger picking. The second was the adoption of the Echoplex tape delay machine as his weapon of choice when it came to laying down the smoky, fuzzy vibe that made Martyn such a smoker's choice in years to come. The third was his voice. Maybe by this point he'd done enough smoking (and drinking) to really let the slurry, laid back delivery kick in, but suddenly the combination of the modal picking and almost horizontal attitude made perfect sense.

Above all this was folk filtered through jazz. Take the inclusion of Tony Coe on sax throughout. His own slurred delivery was second to none (his was the sax on those Henry Mancini Pink Panther themes). Martyn, himself, was a fan of artists like Pharaoh Sanders, and it was this combined with the finest in British folk rock (most of Fairport Convention, including Richard Thompson, make an appearance here) that lifted Solid Air above previous efforts.

The album kicks off with Martyn's lament for close friend Nick Drake on the vibe and sax-assisted title track. On the way we get the bluegrass jauntiness of Over The Hill (with its famously positive reference to Martyn's favourite pastimes); the voguishly pastoral Don't Want To Know, the Echoplex frenzy of his version of Skip James' Rather be The Devil, and the eerily mournful Man In The Station (showing Martyn to be a master of the autobiographical soul-bearing that was to riddle his later album Grace And Danger). Of course the one track that most remember here is May You Never - his paean to brotherly love that was to be a staple of EVERY performance he's given since.

Yes, it's a classic with not a note out of place.. And ably assisted by John Wood's late night production it's now firmly esconced in the hearts of chillers, smokers and music lovers the world over. Everyone needs a copy. --Chris Jones

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect 12 April 2005
By Mr. M Errington VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Solid Air is over thirty years old. I've heard a lot of music since, but it still sounds almost perfect. As it is an unlikely fusion of folk and free-form jazz, it must be something special to have been a success in the first place. There are beautifully crafted songs married to exquisite musicianship and Martyn's smoky delivery and ground-breaking guitar work. This experimentation leads to a constant tension that suffuses the album. The mood swings from dark and brooding to loving and hopeful. But more than anything else about the album is the magic of having the right people in the right place at the right time to make something that cannot be beaten. This is very possibly the greatest album ever recorded. Sit down with a glass of wine, switch off the phone and let it all wash over you.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Concensus of opinion is that 'Solid Air' is John Martyn's best album and having delivered deluxe editions of 'Grace and Danger' and 'One World' it is a natural move to issue a deluxe edition of 'Solid Air'.

I think that many artists legacy are detrimentally treated by poorly put together releases but John has been very lucky to have John Hillarby to look after his legacy, and he did a particulary good job on 'Ain't No Saint' and with this deluxe edition he has repeated his great achievement by adding a great set of studio outtakes and live performances that provide a great understanding of John's musical ability and his great live performances.

CD 1 is basically the remastered album from 1973 but the goldmine for John's fans is CD 2 which has 12 alternate takes, all unreleased,three live cuts 'Easy Blues',' May You Never' and 'I'd Rather Be The Devil (Devil Got My Woman) and the original vinyl single release of 'May You Never'.

Rather than repeating some of the other deluxe editions in having multiple versions of the same tracks, Hillarby has put together the 'Solid Air' album using alternate versions which could just as easily have been a succesful album on its own, and every track is very different from the originally released version, though John's great musicianship and vocals are evident throughout this alternate version of the album.

In my opinion this deluxe version has been put together with great thought and its a quality product and its well worthwhile buying, even if you have the original album. It is a fitting tribute to the artist who sadly passed away in January 2009 and is probably the best deluxe John Martyn release.
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How did I miss this for so long. 6 Aug 2004
Format:Audio CD
I am a convert to John Martyn as a result of seeing the recent documentary aired on BBC2. This album is simply superb, the music is well produced, the performances are excellent, and the songs are simply beautiful. This is also highly original; its quite unlike anything else in my music collection; highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNCUT ALBUM REVIEW 20 Aug 2009
By skizm
Format:Audio CD
In the sleeve notes to this retooled version of John Martyn's masterpiece, John Hillarby recalls an offstage moment when the singer - a man not in the habit of unpicking his lyrics - was asked to explain what he meant by "solid air". Martyn's answer was jocularly dismissive - something to the effect that the song's meaning was obvious. Which it is, though not in a way that is easily catalogued.

"Solid Air", the song, is known to have been written by Martyn for his friend, Nick Drake, and its verses are couched in style of the period; poetic verging on the mystical. When Martyn was writing this album, in 1972, Drake was an occasional visitor to his home in Hastings, and would, by all accounts, spend much of the time staring hopelessly through the window. Knowing this, and bearing in mind that Drake would commit suicide two years later, you might see solid air as a symbol of an atmospheric heaviness, or suffocation. And it's true, the song supports that interpretation, with Martyn apparently empathising with his friend's behaviour. "Don't know what's going wrong inside," he sings,
"and I can tell you that it's hard to hide when you're living on solid air." Even the notion of solid air is ambiguous - oblivion might more obviously be represented by thin air.

But such a literal approach doesn't really do justice to the song, or the album. Martyn had little time for critics, and their habit of adding biographical flesh to his writing. The business of analysing lyrics, he said more than once, was "a pain in the arse". So while Drake was his inspiration, the lyric goes beyond whatever private meaning Martyn may have ascribed to it. "Solid Air" has its own logic, and can apply to any circumstance in which someone is trying to empathise with the pain of a friend.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking! 18 Jun 2009
Format:Audio CD
Solid Air, Deluxe Edition. My God! I've been buying through Amazon for many years, but this is the first time I've ever been motivated to write a review. The standard of aural craftsmanship on this remastered recording is, not to put too fine a point on it, on par with the musical craftsmanship of the artist who's work is being re-presented here - The Master would certainly have been very happy with what I've just heard. It sounds absolutely fantastic. Suffice to say, if I believed that any CD being sold in a version billed as "remastered" meant improvement to this degree (though it never has, even remotely, prior to this one), then I would have to get a bank loan and replace my entire CD collection. There! Enthusiastic rant over! Buy this absolute gem!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Many thanks
Published 4 days ago by carolyn abadzis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 11 days ago by alice
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
perfect, excellent service
Published 11 days ago by Roderick Grindlay
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The item arrived exactly as described, and before I expected it. Buy with confidence.
Published 13 days ago by Jacques coetzee
5.0 out of 5 stars Great classic John Martyn
Possibly his best album, I think anyway.. Whether you know John Martyn's work or not, I reckon this is a CD well worth trying.
Published 1 month ago by Setter
3.0 out of 5 stars What hifi system will you use?
I first heard this from a portable radio in a TV play and thought it was great. On my fairly good hifi system, it does not impress me at all. The reasons for this are not clear. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Martin Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest album of all time
I was privileged to see John Martin perform "Solid Air" and every time I listen to this album it sends shivers down my spine ! Utterly brilliant.
Published 4 months ago by Peter W Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Maestro Martyn
Probably the finest example of John Martyn's work. I bought it during one of Amazon's bargain deals - more please!!!!
Published 4 months ago by Mr. K. Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant classic
Bought for other half's birthday but it is lovely to be reminded just how good some musicians were. They may not be amongst us but we can still listen.
Published 6 months ago by C. Dibley
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Island sound trip
Just a classic recording by a genuine musical great .still sounds as good today as when first released in Island records golden period.
Published 7 months ago by Shaggie
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