on 4 October 2008
This is one of the best nouveau folk albums of all time. Still fresh and meaningful in today's cynical times, with a range of beautiful songs, simply crafted with total integrity. This really is a must have album for anyone interested in quality songwriting, singing and musical craftsmanship.
It still inspires, enlightens and fills my heart everytime i hear it.
on 26 July 2014
I have just discovered , with some surprise , that this appears to be my favourite John Martyn album . Solid Air , Road To Ruin and Stormbringer are all brilliant but this seems to be the one I find myself taking down from the shelf and sliding into the Marantz . All numbers are great and the skip button becomes redundant . John was still at that stage of his career where you could understand what he was singing about and the daft idea of his voice becoming a saxophone had not yet crossed his mind . He handles every song with great tenderness and even tries his hand at rock and roll with Sugar Lump . The highlight , however , is Glistening Glyndebourne an instrumental which shows an interest in Eastern forms . At it's best , 60s music was not afraid to experiment and this track compares favourably with East-West by the Butterfield Blues Band . I don't think he ever hit this kind of form again .
on 12 October 2004
I saw John Martyn live on a number of occasions as a student in Hull 1971-4. I always thought he was cool and very complete as a solo artist. I never actually bought his records at the time. However, living now in an era of reissues I bought Solid Air and Bless the Weather.No disappointments from either, but somehow this album has the edge. Glistening Glyndebourne... I expected this to be self indulgent but .. what a track. There are many gems in here and the album is, if you are in the right mood, totally inspiring and positive.
on 4 June 2009
This is a seminal album of 1971 that was born in the time when an explosion of new musical styles was evolving, and this is one of those styles. There was nothing like John Martin before John Martin. This is a beautiful and enagaging album that hasn't aged one bit across the years. Its an album that has influenced dozens of famous musicians over the years but has rarely been copied as its difficult to do so.
It is a shame John has passed away, but he has left us a marvelous musical legacy in this and a host of other classic albums, but this was a landmark with a style of its own.
on 1 April 2009
Apart from the jarring 3rd track (Sugar Lump), which I always skip, and shouldn't be included (as it spoils the album), this is a very enjoyable listen of gentle, relaxing tracks by a master craftsman. It does annoy me though that some tracks end by fading out, surely the weekest ending possible, but that's just a little fault. A very good album, well worth a fiver.
Originally released in 1971 "Bless The Weather" was, according to the extensive sleeve notes included with this version of the album, recorded very quickly and spontaneously. That's a surprise, as the music feels meticulously crafted, as if a great deal of time and love has been spent on it. I suppose that's what great musicians can do. Consummate performers such as Danny Thompson from Pentangle who played bass, Richard Thompson and Tony Reeves from Colosseum contribute noticeably. The most obvious impact is Danny Thompson whose double bass and jazz influences permeate the album and he was to go on and become a long time collaborator of Martyns.
Though a product of a burgeoning folk scene Martyn was always keen to infiltrate other musical styles and influences into his music and "Bless the Weather" sees him, as well the jazz nuances, percolate experimentation with electronics into his songs. However two truly stunning more traditional folk tracks open the album. Both "Go Easy "and the title track are impeccably arranged with some wonderful performances and Martyns simple yet effectively poignant voice. "Sugar Lump" is a looser jazz composition and comes as a bit of a shock after the incrementally lovely openers , it's verging on the honky tonk rhythms don't really work for me . It seems awkward and out of place but not to worry because the following song "Walk To The Water" underpinned by some languid bongo and piano is reflective and poised. More carefully sprinkled notes of piano and artful brushes of guitar dominate the beautiful and reflective "Just Now" which leads to the albums superb centrepiece "Head And Heart" a love song of stunning escalating power with some perfect hand percussion and twanging double bass. "Let The Good Things Come" has eerie vocal backing courtesy, I think, of his wife Beverly and some expertly picked acoustic guitar. "Back Down The River" is another lovely simple lilting folk number but "Glistening Glynebourne" an evocative instrumental sees Martyn playing his guitar through the echoplex over dappled motes of piano and some rough and tumble percussion. There follows a short prissy version of "Singin, In The Rain" which leaves me cold, as rain is wont to do.
The extra tracks are different takes on previous numbers. These are generally unembellished, just recorded with guitar, bass and percussion and are starker obviously, but do seem to lack the intensity and emotional depth of the versions proper. The "Band version" of "Head And Heart" feature an extended instrumental intro and clocks in at over ten minutes which even for a song as gorgeous as this is pushing it a bit. An extra song "May You Never" which was released as a single to general indifference and cropped up later on "Solid Air" is the last track , featuring some half hearted saxophone and a sloppy melody , it's easy to see why it failed as a single. It's an album track, and not a very good one at that.
Martyn, like Roy Harper, is a much revered artist who I have only recently discovered. "Bless The Weather" is a very fine album which falls just short of being an essential classic , but it's the sort of album people will cherish for it's smoky intimacy, wonderful mix of songs ( generally) and Martyns pristine unaffected voice. And the albums best songs remain with you for days, imbibing you with a cosy comfortable feeling. In fact just what you need when things aren't going your way and the storm clouds are gathering. "Bless The Weather" is a warm hazy summer day of an album and everyone likes those.
on 8 July 2014
If you already own the original CD version of this album you might be wondering "should I buy this re-mastered version with extra tracks?". I would say yes, definitely, buy it. It really is worth having the extra tracks which are a little different from the album versions but not necessarily inferior. The single version of May You Never is....interesting! If the LP version had been released as a single it might have done better in the charts.
John Martyn cheerfully defied folk fascists and jazz purists to make music that sounded good to him. It sounds good to us too. Bless you John, wherever you are.