Iain David McGeachy, aka John Martyn, has left us a far bigger and more mixed legacy than his one time pal Nick Drake. 1971s Bless The Weather was his third solo album (after a couple with his then wife Beverly and a spell living in LA), and is described by allmusic.com as "a transitional effort". Nick Drake only got as far as three, ending his run with the truly sublime Pink Moon
. For me, whilst I know what allmusic.com are getting at, this is his first properly authoritative masterwork, where he's found his own voice, both literally and more generally.
Bless The Weather is almost like a microcosm of Martyn's larger career, inasmuch as it's diverse and perhaps even somewhat varied in quality. But the best music herein is so good it's right off the scale. Tens stars wouldn't do it justice. Go Easy, using one of his most sonorous open-C tunings, is is one of my all time Martyn faves, and indeed, an all time favourite, period. Beck, a more contemporary eclectic experimentalist, has, to his great credit, covered this, showing excellent taste methinks! As well as Go Easy there are also a number of other gems, like the title track itself, May You Never (Martyn's best royalty generator, thanks to Clapton's version of it on Slowhand
), and an exquisitely charming alt. tuning version of Singin' In The Rain.
There's such a wealth of musical treasure here I almost forgot to mention the soothing, calming beauty of Just Now (or Back Down The River, come to think of it). Considering what a troubled soul Martyn was - as is mentioned in the liner notes, he strove to live the intense life of the archetypical jazz artist (and combined an unhealthy lifestyle fuelled by drugs and booze with a healthy disrespect for musical categories) - he sure knew how to make mellow soul balm music. When it comes to the bluesier side of Martyn's output, or the textural guitar improv, there are tracks like Sugar Lump and Glistening Glyndebourne. These aren't my favourites tracks on this superb album, but they're still extremely good (also I feel he's done this sort of thing better elsewhere).
A very diverse and varied set, but considering how mindblowing the best stuff on this disc is, undoubtedly a five star affair.