I love much of the late John Martyn's work, but this album has always had a special place in my collection. Firstly, it's an album of covers - something that Martyn rarely did. Secondly, it's mainly blues and the performances are raw, emotional and telling. John Giblin on bass weaves his magic throughout, but it is Martyn's weary yet strong voice that holds the attention. 'Strange Fruit', already a powerful song, becomes that bit more significant under Martyn's delivery. There is much to enjoy here, but the killer song for me is 'Glory Box' a wonderful song, performed with passion and heart (and it has a brilliant guitar solo). With this song, Giblin and Martyn deliver a sublime performance. This is a special album - beg, borrow or steal a copy - it's a classic and very highly recommended!
This album is probably the best of John's recent releases - most of his recent releases have been rather uninspired - the stand out tracks are versions of Ben Harper's 'Excuse Me Mister' (check out Ben Harper if you like John Martyn, especially 'Fight for Your Mind'), and Portishead's big hit (sorry - can't remember the title of that one). It's not perfect - some of the tunes feel a bit jaded - but it's a good one to get if you want to hear how he sounds now, when he's on fairly good form. Nothing beats his own early songs though, and I'd suggest 'Bless the Weather', 'London Conversation' and 'Solid Air' as rock-solid introductions to what he sounds like at his best.
The notion of a John Martyn cd exclusively dealing with other people's songs is a bit strange as he's such a great songwriter himself, but this really is a winner. He does justice to all songs and soundwise this cd sounds absolutely great. Great songs overall and two of them especially (Strange Fruit and Sky is crying) totally justify the five star rating for me. "The sky is crying" has me reaching for the repeat button all the time (gorgeous bass!) while the awesome "Strange fruit" really punches its chilling message home. Utterly moving, and quite possibly one of the greatest recordings of this deservedly famous song ever. In terms of song selection I find the latter half of the album more enticing, but it's obvious John Martyn had a good time recording all the songs. A solid, wonderful sounding album.
This 1998 compilation is a mix of covers by John Martyn who really adds a new dimension in terms of his voice as an additional instrument.The depth to his expression in these songs is phenomenal. Hearing John Martyns earlier compositions in juxtaposition to these new encounters demonstrates how his voice has not only matured, but has I feel consciously and meticulously weaved into an intoxicating delivery. Listen to "Excuse me Mister","The Sky is Crying" and "Glory Box" and you will know what I am saying here. The final track "Death don't have no mercy" is a rather haunting and poignant song now John Martyn is no longer with us. The first song "He's got all the whisky" is also quite a tongue-in-cheek delivery considering John's liking for the amber liquid. For any John Martyn admirer this is a must.
John Martyn has been on my wish list for a very long time and finally, after hearing the haunting voice on "She's got all the Whisky" was able to tap in, through this album , to the soulful gravelly voice accompanied by some fine bare bones electric guitar. Haunting music that has lasted the test of time and evokes the early Blues players from a bygone generation. A hidden gem.