Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Tribute, 1 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: The Island Years (Audio CD)
As the other reviews say, this is indeed an impressive box. I particularly liked the LP-style format, more convenient than the big Sandy Denny box of a couple years back. Compiler John Hillarby has done a clever job of finding new never-before-released versions of songs, on the audio CDs and the DVD -- especially so when JM fans will probably already have the Ain't No Saint box as well as all the albums [well I have, anyway!]. His lengthy essay in the book is enjoyable and conveys clearly some of the insecurities that must have driven Martyn on to create some of the most emotional folk/rock/jazz ever, and also led to his sadly early death. I had the sense that Hillarby was treading a bit carefully so as not to cause offence to anyone, but at least he avoids the usual hagiography and gives a reasonably well-rounded [no pun intended] picture of the man.

Just one thing -- Is the jolly ditty Hello Train really about his mother, who virtually abandoned him [shades of another John - Lennon- there]?

A few caveats: Obviously the box is pricey and does contain a lot of previously available material -- basically all the original Island albums -- which people may already own. I was personally a bit disappointed to see large images of the record sleeves in the book, as I have them all on vinyl -- though I concede that not everyone will! A little more captioning of the fascinating images would also have been nice.

Two massive pluses are the live concerts from the 70s which are both brilliant and full of the banter that made seeing John Martyn live such a joy. I would have loved more material like this. For example, I once heard a bootleg of Martyn live at Les Cousins in 68 which was pretty interesting. Could that be cleaned up for general release?

Anyway, the Island Years is a pretty great tribute and covers all most important music, in my opinion, that Martyn made. I for one, wouldn't splash out on a similar box on his later work, interesting and good though some of it is [too much synth/sax, not enough JM!].
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Oct 2013 13:46:32 BDT
Sunnytuckson says:
Personally, I'm disappointed by the "Live At The Hanging Lamp". It was an interesting document but, on two or three songs the John's voice is distant, almost inaudible (Maybe a problem on my CD?) and, the version of "Don't Think Twice" lasts a little more than one minute! . But his sense of humor and the connection with people are already present, with a point of shyness. I saw him a little more than year later, his guitar technique has enormously evolved with an incredibly cool presence.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Oct 2013 13:16:16 BDT
Thanks for your comment -- I think the reason that the vocal is low on the electric songs on the Hanging Lamp CD is that, in this intriguing early instance of Martyn experimenting with Echoplex, there was a lack of a vocal mic! JM actually mentions this; so there's nothing wrong with your CD. Don't Think Twice is just there as a typically jokey illustration of the borrowed tune for Back to Stay.
I think the highlight of this CD was the lovely rendition and audience participation for Singin' in the Rain, which completely captures the sense of 'togetherness' that early to mid 70s JM concerts created. There was a rare sense that the guy up there was singing for us all, that I've rarely, if ever, felt with any other artist.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2013 23:50:20 BDT
Sunnytuckson says:
I think that you are right, these technical experimentation problems are completely plausible. For the second part of your message, I completely agree with you. John created an incredible complicity with his public. There is another version of Singin ' In The Rain (CD " Live BBC In Concert " - Paris Theatre in 30/12/71), with same atmosphere and, in this time people were very warm and "a little bit high"...
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