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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Martyn - A fine tribute to Big Muff
This is a tricky one. It is difficult to point to "tribute" albums that really do the deceased artists they honour the justice they deserve. Furthermore in the case of a singer songwriter quite as loved and revered as the late great John Martyn there are many of his songs which seem utterly pointless covering since his sheer emotional uniqueness and honesty was peerless,...
Published on 15 Aug 2011 by Red on Black

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much anticipated but a bit of a let down
I've been looking forward to getting my hands on this for ages so it's a disappointment that I find some of it a let down. The DVD is poor, I gave up after about 20 minutes as I couldn't connect at all with the people who featured on the film. It felt very 'Hollywood' and not what I thought I would be getting from this package.

There are also some very, very...
Published on 20 Aug 2011 by 1Impens


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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Martyn - A fine tribute to Big Muff, 15 Aug 2011
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
This is a tricky one. It is difficult to point to "tribute" albums that really do the deceased artists they honour the justice they deserve. Furthermore in the case of a singer songwriter quite as loved and revered as the late great John Martyn there are many of his songs which seem utterly pointless covering since his sheer emotional uniqueness and honesty was peerless, plus let us never forget quite how brilliant a musician he was. Frankly what can others add to classics like "Solid air", "Small hours", "Go down easy" or the gorgeous painful honesty of "Grace and Danger" songs like "Hurt in your heart" is debatable particularly bearing in mind the sheer variety of artists covering 30 of his best known songs.

For starters why anyone thought giving one of John's most subtly beautiful songs namely "One World" to the wretched Paolo Nutini to perform some sort of reggae atrocity seriously requires a full scale public enquiry where the perpetrator should be hunted down with dogs. More respectfully Snow Patrol give "May you never" a decent if ultimately overblown "X Factor" makeover that actually could be a massive hit but by the end this reviewer longed to hear the gentle guitar slapping acoustics of Big Muff. Similarly while Ted Barnes and the Emperors of Wyoming do very good versions of "Over the hill" and "Bless the Weather" you couldn't consider them in the same league as the originals. Robert Smith alternatively does a very atmospheric version of the stunning "Small hours" and strangely his "Cure" voice does suit the song, likewise Beck's version of "Stormbringer" is spot on.

Overall however it's the women singers who come out of this exercise with all the honours which would no doubt be the way that John would have wanted it to be. Thus Lisa Hannigan does a harder almost brooding Celtic version of "Couldn't love you more" which shows how to take another artists material and do something great and original with it. Roll on her second album. On "Hurt in your heart" Judie Tzuke plays it straight but its lovely all the same, ditto the soft jazzy version of "Certain surprise" by Irish newcomer Sabrina Dinan. If there is a surprise package then its Vashti Bunyan's fragile version of "Head & heart" is a true wonder and a massive highlight. Unsurprisingly as the resident vocalist of trip-hop group Morcheeba, Skye Edwards' gives "Solid Air" an almost Massive Attack brooding soulful treatment which to be fair works and well done to her for attempting the impossible. Finally in this same vein Beth Orten again shows what a neglected talent she is and if her sumptuous version of "Go down easy" directs music lovers to her Central Reservation LP then this album is worth the price of entry.

Finally respect goes to Nick McCabe and Simon Jones new project "The Blackships" which they formed since the demise of the Verve and their cover of seven minute plus "Rope Soul'd" gives it even more menacing intensity than the original. The album ends with Phil Collins singing "Tearing and Breaking'. If only for the huge support and friendship he gave John Martyn throughout his colourful and eventful life for once Collins presence is not only entirely appropriate but absolutely essential. Overall then the good easily outweighs the bad on this solid and often innovative tribute album. John Martyn was by any standards completely unique and incomparable. You name it and this Scottish singer could do it all whether folk, jazz, chillout or rock n roll and far batter than many of his more commercially popular contemporaries. You can only hope that this worthy and extensive tribute album also leads to the real thing for "Johnny would love this" makes you realize the scale of the musical gap that the musical giant John Martyn left as he passed this world. If it does lead to further exploration of his many stunning albums please heed the warning on Big Muffs' website since prolonged listening to the great man will "irreversibly change the musical wiring inside your brain".
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Johnny Boy would Smile, Giggle and Guffaw, 18 Aug 2011
By 
Glenn "Omaha" (Devon England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
In one sense, how could you go wrong: 30 covers of beautiful songwriting and, for those of us who know them so well, songs brimful with personal meaning and memory - and in addition a guest list of notable talent.

Of course it could all go terribly wrong if that affinity to John's recordings is so strong that the listener cannot physically and psychologically countenance any version, no matter how faithful to the original or noteworthy the performer.

I am firmly with the first possibility, and have been enjoying and internally critiquing since listening to this wonderful tribute album from its arrival yesterday to writing, and still listening, now. I also think John would indeed love this, and his essential gentle and good nature would smile and giggle at the versions that appealed; any that didn't would get a robust guffaw as he would be too confident, though humble, in his own legacy to ever feel angered or upset by someone's genuine if awry attempt at a tribute.

I am so committed to honouring John's memory and this album's part in preserving such that I will actually work through all 30 tracks. It is inevitable that my views will differ from those of other fans - not just of John but of the covering artists: that is a dynamic part of the album's offering and, of course, the nature of musical opinion itself. Platitude over, here we go:

Disc 1

David Grey - 'Let The Good Things Come': my second least favourite unfortunately starts the tribute! His strained vocal doesn't work for me.

Clarence Fountain and Sam Butler - 'Glorious Fool': these Blind Boys of Alabama give the song a wonderfully soulful and atmospheric delivery.

Robert Smith - 'Small Hours': there are versions on this tribute that are totally faithful to the original and those that stamp their performer's signature on it. Smith certainly stamps his Cure's emblem on this, and it works - a mimetic reconstruction of guitar effects building to a repeated capture of the song's essence. It is similar in effect to his band's excellent cover of Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'.

Beck - 'Stormbringer': the first of three-in-a-row acoustic and faithful versions, a lovely cover of early Martyn and sounding, appropriately, Nick Drakeish in the vocal delivery.

Ted Barnes - 'Over The Hill': respected but unknown Brit, Barnes, proffers another authentic cover, with an aptly plucked banjo providing its nuance.

The Swell Season - 'I Don't Want To Know': double bass and soft harmonies provide a gentle take on this gentle classic.

Emperors of Wyoming - 'Bless The Weather': the first of the heavyweight songs to cover, it could be seen as a burden, but this americana version works well enough, though its rougher edges are anathema to John's sweet vocals on this great title song from my favourite album.

Lisa Hannigan - 'Couldn't Love You More': my least favourite as she makes a dirge out of one of Martyn's most beautiful and powerful love songs. It is dissonant and affected with that lazy female vocal style so prevalent today.

Vetiver - 'Go Easy': a lovely honest version with adherence to the song's beautiful chord sequence.

Syke - 'Solid Air': the other large song of burden, but done atmospherically.

Cheryl Wilson - 'You Can Discover': this is one I have had for a while as a pre-release, and it is a sweet version with distinctive vocals by Wilson and the bonus of John actually playing the guitar, the beginning a false start as John counts himself in, giggling.

Joe Bonamassa - 'The Early Blues': and the album doesn't perhaps have enough of this side of John's songcraft and performance, but Bonamassa provides, as one would expect, a finger-picked and blues infused empathetic take.

Sonia Dada - 'Dancing': new to me, but this is a great funk/gospel version, with Paris Delane, presumably, on main vocal.

Sabrina Dinan - 'Certain Surprise': again new to me, but Ennis-born Dinan provides a cool jazzy vocal on this cover.

Paolo Nutini - 'One World': one to polarise opinion I would guess, I quite like this and it is one of the more distinctive versions, making the song his own, but if you don't like Nutini's vocal then you won't be endeared to the ownership. I think John would be smiling at individual takes like this and the others on this tribute.

Disc 2

Snow Patrol - 'May You Never': I didn't want to like this, and don't. It's a blatant enough prejudice, but here underpinned by this version's pretentious light orchestration.

Beth Orton - 'Go Down Easy': but so quickly back on track, this has sweet melodic guitar to mirror the emotive vocal, with piano echoing this too.

The Bombay Bicycle Club - 'Fairy Tale Lullaby': this captures the folk-innocence of this lovely song, sweet harmonies and a tambourine as requisite tools.

Syd Kitchen - 'Fine Lines': the late Kitchen provides the most idiosyncratic take on the whole album, its chanted opening and flute accompaniment setting the scene for the most original version of a song from John's first experimental album.

Vashti Bunyan - 'Head & Heart': my all-time favourite Martyn song, I was positively expectant in as much as Bunyan has her own distinctive musical legacy, and here, her vulnerable voice is empathetic to another of John's memorable musings on love.

Morcheeba - 'Run Honey Run': a lesser known song and thus less 'baggage' in the covering stakes, this is effective enough.

Nicholas Barron - 'Angeline': another newbie to me, the folk and blues guitarist from Chicago provides an oxymoronically and loudly whispered but ultimately sparse take on an 80s Martyn classic.

John Smith - 'Walk To The Water': good to see Smith on this album, I saw him supporting Martyn at a Birmingham gig and thus he has earned his covering stripes. This is a wonderfully faithful version, Martynesque guitar slapping and neat harmonies and another beautiful, beautiful song.

Judie Tzuke - 'Hurt in Your Heart': this is such a powerful, heartfelt song it needed a big vocal to carry that and I thought Judie would deliver, but it is a little subdued for me.

Jim Tullio - 'Road To Ruin': John, along with Gary Pollitt, produced Martyn's final posthumous album Heaven and Earth. His version of another early Martyn classic has a strong vocal, slows the song down, and includes a short fiddle solo.

Oh My God - 'John Wayne': one of the great growling Martyn songs - brilliant live - this has the most aggressive and therefore appropriate vocal delivery on the album.

The Black Ships - 'Rope Soul'd': an OK version.

Ultan Conlon - 'Back to Stay': well these guys earned their tribute stripes with the superb Really Gone featuring John Martyn and John Conneely dueting, and Martyn in such gruff vocal distinction. This is a pretty version and a vocal opposite to the one I have just described.

Brendan Cambell - 'Anna': John's signature echoplex gets an airing, and this beautiful song is beautifully sung.

Phil Collins - 'Tearing and Breaking': another one to polarise. Lyrics by John, music by Phil, this will be for some over-produced with its polished and overdubbed Collins choric harmonies dominating the song. It is what it is and as a great friend of Martyn's, both personally and musically, I respect the tribute. Phil Collins perhaps has the most stripes of all on this tribute.

Out of interest, here are a few other great cover versions, not on this album, but out there if you look:

Courtney Pine [David McAlmont vocal] - 'Bless the Weather'
Don Ross - 'Head & Heart'
Caparcallie - 'Don't You Go'
Catie Curtis - 'Don't Want To Know'
Bridget St John - 'Head & Heart'
Taj Mahal - 'Love Up'
America - 'Head & Heart'
Richie Havens - 'Don't Want To Know'
Rod Stewart - 'May You Never'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality and quantity aplenty!, 18 July 2012
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
This tribute to John Martyn is undersold on Amazon; there are two CDs and a DVD included in the price, and some lovely covers by The Swell Season, Robert Smith, Bombay Bicycle Club, Snow Patrol and many others! Absolutely good value for money ~ RIP John but the music lives on!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great double album- worthy tribute to John Martyn, 30 Mar 2013
By 
Ms. C. Noyes (London SE27) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
Superbly produced & lovingly crafted tribute to the late great John Martyn.

A selection of Martyn's songs interpreted by different artists with skill & appreciation. Some work better than others, but all are worth a listen & some are just absolutely wonderful- Robert Smith & Beth Orton- are two that stand out for me.

It's certainly my favourite listening at the moment.

Wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm sure Johnny Boy would have loved this.., 10 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
Various artists take the songs of John Martyn and come up with something new..
John Martyn started out as a Folkie in Glasgow and headed to the Folk Scene in London..
He said to survive that scene you had to have a thoiusand songs in your napper..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars imagination, love,respect and great value, 25 Jan 2012
By 
Franimi (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
I remember saying in a review of another tribute album that i didn't see myself buying one honouring a real favourite artist of mine because as a fan I would always prefer the original and not be objective about the covers. Well, with this one, I have to set that opinion aside. I have been an enormous fan of this man for decades and have seen him many times. In recent times I have had to defend him from the comments of my wife, who calls him the "Hooly Hooly Man" because of his vocal style. This is an almost unqualified triumph. Many of the versions are fairly faithful to the original, but none is slavishly so, they all retain the stamp of the performer. Others are very different but these are always done with respect and ingenuity. For a double album containing many tracks by people that I'd not come across before I have to say that I'm completely won over, I think he would indeed have loved it. I actually borrowed it from my library, but after 1 listen and 1 viewing of the DVD (which increases the set's value no end) I went online and ordered it straight away. Even without the warm and sincere comments from everyone on the booklet and DVD, it was obvious that everyone was delighted and privileged to be asked to contribute from the sheer exuberance of the performances. The only track I can say is not a complete success is Couldn't Love You More, which suffers from the singer's weebly tone, which is sadly all too prevalent among female "stars" at the moment. If you love the man's work, you must at least investigate this. Bring an open mind.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fitting tribute, 30 Aug 2011
By 
Paul Millington (Wirral, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
When I heard this was coming out I was not sure I'd get it. How can anyone cover the great man's work and do it justice? I received this as a birthday present and was completely blown away by the uniformily high quality and thoughtful interpretation by the artists (many of whom I had never heard of). Jim Tullio has masterminded this and supported the artists on many tracks very effectively. Well done Jim, you have done him proud.
The package itself is excellent value. The two music discs and an interesting DVD are housed in a cardboard sleeve and it all has a beautiful look to it. The booklet has each of the artists adding their reasons for choosing their particular track, and clearly they have all done their best to deliver something that works. Most versions are similar to the originals, with just one or two stepping out bravely with a radically different version. As each track came on I feared it may falter but then each brought out something different (not better). Too many great tracks to pick out them all, so I will suggest just four that should make you buy this. 'Run Honey Run' by Morcheeba. A track off his 1st album that never really stood out, until I heard this. Then there is my all-time favourite track 'Hurt in your heart' covered here by Judy Tzuke. Sabrina Dinan gives 'Certain surprise' a cool Julie London-jazz style delivery, and John Smith excels and makes 'Walk to the water' his own. They work, in fact it all works. Best tribute album I've heard given to any artist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just great, 22 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
This is such a wonderful collection of John Martyn's work all sung as a tribute to him by other musicians. It has some excellent arrangements and it is clear they really thought a lot of him. Nice idea and wonderfully done. Thanks to all those musicians and the person who thought of the idea.
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5.0 out of 5 stars John's music lives on, 20 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
As the title says, Johnny boy would love this. His music lives on, and each artist on this album has gifted him with their contribution, to ensure it's enjoyed by generations to come.

The variety of artists, and sometimes unusual track choices, make up what can only be described as a wonderful collection. Personal favourites include Small Hours by Robert Smith, Fine Lines by Syd Kitchen, Run Honey Run by Morcheeba and Road To Ruin by Jim Tullio.

Once you get past the fact that it's not JM singing his songs (his guitar work features on some tracks), they really do grow on you. And the CD is worth buying if only for the very touching sleeve notes given by each artist describing how Johns music has reached out to them.

May his music be enjoyed by many generations to come, and if this album makes his music accessible then wonderful I say!!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much anticipated but a bit of a let down, 20 Aug 2011
This review is from: Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute To John Martyn (Audio CD)
I've been looking forward to getting my hands on this for ages so it's a disappointment that I find some of it a let down. The DVD is poor, I gave up after about 20 minutes as I couldn't connect at all with the people who featured on the film. It felt very 'Hollywood' and not what I thought I would be getting from this package.

There are also some very, very weak tracks on the tribute - the Snow Patrol cover of May You Never is one example - and only a few artists seem to be able to summon up the depth and beauty in their performances that the tracks deserve.

Overall I am pleased it has been released, but do think it could have been so much better and a more fitting tribute to a truly exceptional artist and his music.
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