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More a fine overview of John Martyn's records than an exhaustive biography
on 28 February 2014
First, what this book is not. It's not the definitive John Martyn biography. There's too little new insight, and very few new interviews; for one, ex-wife Beverley (an extremely talented - as much as underrated - singer/songwriter in her own right) who lived with John Martyn throughout the 70s and shared his most creative years, doesn't seem to have been contacted or involved.
In its scanty 250 pages the complex John Martyn persona in not really delved into.
This is not always a bad thing, as the author is thankfully not interested in lingering over the excesses and the alcoholism and the sordid parts, which could have easily turned this book into a wretched tale of misery and sorrow.
What this book is, it's a rather competent analysis of his records (the Island years in particular), offering interesting info about the creative and recording process and the musicians involved.
So if you're looking for an informative compendium to read along, while listening to the records, I think this book could be well recommended - I'd give it 3 ½ stars.
It's obviously the work of a passionate, knowledgeable fan.
But the book could have used some good editing to get rid of the occasional repetition, typo, or blunder (album "Inside Out" on occasion becomes "Outside In")
And there's no excuse for the discography at the end (the lousiest I've ever seen, just title&year for each album - not even the label...)