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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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In a 10-year period between 1967 and 1977 - John Martyn (one of the UK’s finest Folk-Soul troubadours) made so many albums that it was all too easy to 'not notice' the rough diamonds amongst the polished paste.

Most music fans will be aware of his acknowledged masterpieces - 1973's "Solid Air" and 1977's "One World" – but they miss out on the truly lovely Folk simplicity of his October 1967 Mono debut "London Conversation" (see review) and the gorgeous Nick Drake vibe that flows off his equally forgotten November 1971 album "Bless The Weather". But there’s also "Sunday's Child" - his unfairly ignored LP from early 1975. Featuring some of his loveliest songs - "You Can Discover", "Lay It All Down" and a spine-tingling rendition of an English Traditional "Spencer The Rover" - sat alongside Jazzier pieces like "Call Me Crazy" and the straight-up Pop of "Clutches" – the whole record is a wonderful fusion of trippy Acoustic warmth, Funky-Rock and Echoplex Folk-Soul. There is only one bum note for me (a misplaced Rock song called “Root Love”) – but apart from that – it’s another gem from JM...

Recorded in August 1974 at Island's Studios in Hammersmith and released January 1975 - few people outside of diehard fans seemed to heed its release. It was his sixth LP (not counting his own privately pressed live album “Live At Leeds”) for the ever patient Island Records but the public just weren’t buying in sufficient numbers to make a real break through. Hell even something as obviously brilliant and tuneful as the "One World" LP that hit the shop racks in November 1977 would have to wait until February 1978 to chart - and even then it was for one week at No. 54.

Martyn toured and promoted the "Sunday's Child" album extensively - joined on stage most nights by his Double Bass playing rhythm section and integral piece of his sound - Danny Thompson. Even Paul Kossoff of Free legendarily pulled out his axe on occasion on that tour (struggling as he was with drug addiction even then). Musically "Sunday's Child" saw Iain David McGeachy in a really good place - married with a daughter and another child on the way (his son would be born after the album’s release in May 1975) - his contented family vibe oozes off tracks like the gorgeous "Lay It On Down" (lyrics from it title this review) and "You Can Discover". Time to get to the CD Reissue details...

UK released November 2005 - "Sunday's Child" by JOHN MARTYN on Island Masters IMCD 323 (Barcode 602498307359) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster that offers the 11-track 1975 LP bolstered up with 7 Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (63:16 minutes):

1. One Day Without You
2. Lay It On Down
3. Root Love
4. My Baby Girl
5. Sunday's Child
6. Spencer The Rover
7. Clutches [Side 2]
8. The Message
9. Satisfied Mind
10. You Can Discover
11. Call Me Crazy
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 8th studio album "Sunday's Child" - released January 1975 in the UK and USA on Island Records ILPS 9296 (same catalogue number for both countries - it didn't chart in either). Produced by JOHN MARTYN - all songs written by JM except "Spencer The Rover" and "Satisfied Mind" which are Traditional Song cover versions.

12. Ellie Rhee - recorded 26 August 1974 at Island Studios in Hammersmith, London
13. Satisfied Mind (First Mix) - recorded 25 August 1974 at Island Studios in Hammersmith, London
14. One Day Without You
15. You Can Discover
16. My Baby Girl
17. The Message
18. Spencer The Rover - Tracks 14 to 18 recorded 7 January 1975 for a BBC Radio 1 'John Peel Session'

JOHN MARTYN - Guitar, Moog, Clavinet and Lead Vocals (Duet Vocals with Beverly Martyn on "My Baby Girl")
JOHN "Rabbit" BUNDRICK - Piano, Kesh Sathie and Tablas
AL ANDERSON - Electric Bass on "One Day Without You"
TERRY WILSON - Electric Bass on "Clutches"
TONY BRAUNAGEL - Drums on "Clutches"

Compiled for CD by Mark Powell of Esoteric Recordings - the 12-page colour booklet has new liner notes from noted Martyn expert JOHN HILLARBY. The reminiscences go into a brief history of his career with Island Records who stuck with him to 1986 despite any real chart success - the before, during and after of the album and his sad demise in 2009 - as beloved as ever. There are photos of Martyn in various live poses (usually with his Acoustic Guitar) and a fabulous new PASCHAL BYRNE Remaster that makes everything sing. This is a beautiful sounding CD...and one that comes with genuinely excellent and exciting Bonus Tracks too.

The album opens on a great one-two sucker punch of winning melodies - "One Day Without You" and the immensely touching "Lay It All Down". John Martyn's style at this time had been honed right from 1971 through to "Solid Air" in 1973 - a sort of half Folk-half Jazz feel - all Acoustic Guitars heavily strummed while a funky rhythm section headed up by Upright Bass genius Danny Thompson. I love these songs (especially "Lay It All Down" where he sex-slurs that deep voice of his into a sensual drawl that would make audience knicker-elastic melt at ten paces. But then he does what he did on too many albums - he throws in something way too harsh and out of step with the other songs. In this case it's the brash and cynical Hard Rock of "Root Love" - a poor riffage tune that I can't abide even now - 41 years after the event. Side One thankfully gets rescued by a trio of sweethearts - a ballad to their daughter Mhairi (who was born February 1971 and is pictured on the rear sleeve of the original vinyl LP), the sexy Funk of "Sunday's Child" and the gorgeous Traditional acoustic amble of "Spencer The Rover" - a song he wrestled out of Robin Dransfield in the mid Sixties at the Glasgow Folk Centre when he accosted the Guitarist post gig and forced him to teach a 16-year old Martyn the song.

Side 2 opens with the Little Feat boogie funk of "Clutches" - and again - even though it's good - it feels slightly out of place on a largely mellow album. Back to business with "The Message" that incorporates the Traditional Folk ditty "Marie's Wedding" into its lovely rhythms and lyrics. Written by Joe 'Red Hayes and Jack Rhoads - Country superstar Porter Wagoner had a hit in 1955 on RCA Victor with "Satisfied Mind" - here Martyn slows it down into a creeping Blues song - a troubled mind longing for peace (a bit like himself I'm guessing). The Byrds, Dylan and Tim Hardin have covered “Satisfied Mind” amongst many others.

Fans adore "You Can Discover" - a great Martyn groove that turns up on Best Of's and Anthologies - and surely one of the LPs real highlights (the Remaster has brought out Bundrick's piano playing). It ends well. Just when you think you know the measure of the seven and half minute "Call Me Crazy" (Funk Rock) - about 4:20 minutes in - it suddenly grinds to an almost halt and you get an Acoustic three minutes of astonishing beauty. Plucked guitar strings rattle and shimmy - his Acoustic Guitar plugged into an echo chamber while Danny Thompson runs up and down the frets of his Double Bass caressing sliding refrains. It's like a precursor to the beautiful "Small Hours" eight-minute Echoplex and workout on "One World". Fabulous stuff...

Fans will flip for the truly gorgeous "Ellie Rhee" - an entirely Acoustic Folk song dating from the American Civil War with a properly lovely feel and melody. Hillarby reproduces its lyrics in the booklet on Page 10 and it should have replaced the awful "Root Love" on Side 1 in my books. The 'First Mix' of "Satisfied Mind" is superb too but I can hear why the released version was instead. The excellence continues with five recorded for John Peel's Radio 1 show in January 1975. Good news on all fronts - the Audio is shockingly good even if there is a little wobble here and there (especially on "The Message") and the performances (largely Acoustic) are thrilling. He slays "One Day Without You" as he plucks and slaps his Guitar's scratch plate. An equally pretty "You Can Discover" follows but an overloaded tape distortion does for a beautiful version of "Spencer The Rover" - a song that often made me cry and leaves you wondering how come no-one noticed this quality back in the day?

Would it have been different if he'd included "Ellie Rhee" and dropped the 'too heavy' "Root Love" - a song that confused listeners and killed the mood before it had a chance to blossom. Whatever way you look at it I've always felt "Sunday's Child" was a couple of whippets short of a Folk-Soul masterpiece and this wickedly good (and dirt cheap) CD only hammers that home.

"...As valiant a man as ever left home..." he sang on the beautiful "Spencer The Rover". Gorgeous and then some...be with the angels you songsmith hero...
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on 4 March 2014
I bought this CD to replace a rather old and scratchy vinyl version of the album that I bought not long after it was originally released. The intervening (nearly) 40 years have done nothing to diminish the excellence of the tracks; there are some absolute classics.

Songs like "Sunday's Child" and "You Can Discover" are heart-rendingly beautiful both in their lyrics and in John's arrangement and playing. He was an astoundingly good guitarist and me managed to produce a delicacy in his playing (whether acoustic or electric) that added to the emotion of the words he sang.

Yet at the same time this album marks a further move away from the purely acoustic work that he was originally known for. The album contains a mixture of tracks. Some, like those mentioned previously hark back to his earlier work but others such as "One Day Without You"; "Root Love" and "Clutches" have a distinct jazz-funk feel to them and provide an indication of how his future albums were going to sound.

And of course, there is "Spencer The Rover" a traditional song given a wonderful acoustic arrangement and sung beautifully. He did have a great voice, after all.

What a talent he was. A great song-writer; an excellent singer and a magnificent guitarist.

Rest In Peace, John.
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The description above, applies to this Beautiful album. Another master-class in singing/song writing.There`s not a day goes by that I don`t miss the great man. Blessed with a voice that could make Angels weep, and a sublime dexterity with the guitar. Rave on John Martyn, Rave on!!!
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on 24 February 2009
A truly great album from the now sadly deceased John Martyn. There will never be the likes of him again, but at least we can glory in these fabulous albums. This album in particular is sadly under-rated, containing as it does, the genius of Spencer the Rover, Sunday's Child and the immense Lay it All Down with Danny Thompson on bass. Heart on sleeve just doesn't convey the emotion. Genius.
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on 7 May 2001
This album has served me well over the years.It never fails to satisfy that need to just remember how real and simple music can be. How good it is to just sit back and listen to some honest but extraordinary musicianship.This album draws you in and makes you its best friend. Before you know it you'll be constantly coming back to see how it's getting on, to find that it's "doing just fine thank you, and how are you?".
Danny Thompson on double bass with Martyn's distinctive guitar work is surely one of the greatest partnerships of all-time. It is a privelage to have the opportunity to hear how good Blues-folk music can be. This album along with his "Inside Out" and "Solid Air" albums are among the best recordings of the early seventies and demand to be alongside Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis,The Beatles, Stones et al. Do yourself a favour for such a low price you would be getting a serious amount of talent for your money and a lifelong friend who'll be there when you're getting stressed with the world.
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on 17 January 2016
Sunday's Child is often the forgotten one in John Martyn's astonishing run of classic albums in the mid 70's. After the ballsy, jazz fusion of Inside Out, he for the most part went back to the acoustic guitar to record these songs. It's chilled, and I am sure was a chosen soundtrack for the stoners back in the mid 70's. Root Love is almost a pre-cursor to Big Muff which would appear on his next album One World. One Day Without You & My Baby Girl are lovely late hour confessionals that Martyn does so well. His cover songs, are simply astounding, the soulful Satisfied Mind, and the mesmerizing folk standard Spencer The Rover. What a character Martyn was, his music - relaxing, romantic & soulful. However, his life was far from that. John liked the booze & drugs, and the odd pub punch up. His upbringing in both Glasgow & Surrey allowed him to switch into either accent. so it's amusing to hear his live recordings where he could be talking to the crowd in broad Glaswegian or a Home Counties accent. Always seemed a witty, self effacing chap too. Great album. Great man.
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VINE VOICEon 28 May 2006
John Martyn's 1974 album carries on the fine run of classic early/mid severties albums which mark him out as a rare talent. A talent which has never grown dim despite the passing decades of emotional and physical decline which has seen him suffer Brendan Behan-esque alcohol induced torments.

Hopefully life in the Irish countryside might provide him with an anchor to cling on to.

Back to the album: It flows through the speakers like an aural river....deep and dark. Dappled with sunlight and clouds. As a guitarist Martyn is an alchemist. Tossing fire laced with honey from strings stretched to breaking point.

Sunday morning...strong coffee,newspapers and John Martyn. What more could you ask for ?
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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2005
1974 and John Martyn is on a roll. Following 'Solid Air' and the vastly under-rated 'Inside Out',JM continued in a rich vein with the release of 'Sunday's Child'.
The bluesy vocals,clean acoustic pickings over-laid with dreamy bass lines and the fuzzy guitar licks which energise tracks like 'Root Love' are a long way from the hippy fairy days of 'London Conversation' and 'The Tumbler'.
Excellent stuff from a giant amongst musical pygmies !
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on 2 March 2009
Had it on vinyl. Even better on CD tho poignant cos he died.Wonderful album, relived my youth!
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on 17 October 2014
For me,the last of the great JM records,along with Bless the Weather,Solid Air,and Inside out.After these he developed in other directions,and although I can't say I hated this other material,there was a loss(or lessening) of what had been so beguiling.Becoming a more rock oriented artist may have won him other followers,I don't know,but John Wayne,Big Muff,etc,certainly didn't do as much for me as I'd Rather be the Devil,or May you Never.Listening to One World again, I think the decline started there,and of course Phil Collins and Eric Clapton tried to make him a star,when he really was a niche artist,and had his audience already.So Grace and Danger left me a tad lukewarm,with Phil sticking his oar in,and thereafter,a JM record was a bit of a hit and miss affair,never bad,don't get me wrong,but past the glory days.So buy this,and the other 3 I've mentioned,and I believe you'll have a true best of collection of a wonderful musician,and a complicated man.
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