6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
How it should be done, 27 May 2009
This is how these deluxe re-issues should be done. The second disc has the same running order as the original album, so if you know the original like the back of your hand, it makes for intriguing listening.
Highlights include the alternate take of I'd Rather Be the Devil. Obviously recorded earlier than the finished song it offers you a real insight into the way these songs developed in the studio.
John sings it in a higher key, but the remarkable thing is his phrasing, which is immaculate. I'd always thought it would take endless takes to find the perfect way to get 'behind' the vocal the way he does, but on the evidence of this track he was a very natural singer. This is highlighted further by the guitar motif which - along with the drums - underpins and lends the finished song its drama.
In this take it feels almost entirely absent, becoming more prominent only towards the end, indicating how the arrangement was changed fairly dramatically while the song evolved, but the vocal remained almost unchanged. This is one of many insights the second disc of this re-issue has to offer.
If you've never heard the original album before then.. lucky you! The first disc is one of the very best albums you will ever buy, and I think that holds true regardless of any genre of music you're into. Solid Air really is one of those gems, it'll sweep you up and never really put you down again. If you don't own it then buy it, every song on the record should be there, every one with its own vibe, one minute you'll be regretting how many times you've missed listening to such a beautiful tune (Solid Air, Go Down Easy) the next you'll be open-mouthed about just how funky 'folk' can get (Dreams By the Sea, I'd rather Be the Devil). It's a trip!
Congratulations to John Hillarby, who couldn't have done a better job, and congratulations to John Martyn, for the ability to articulate his undoubted genius.