John Martyn, Glorious Fool (1981)
I’ve always loved John Martyn for his inconsistencies, his idiosyncrasies. He’s left behind an extraordinary body of work; littered with mistakes and missteps and complete lapses in judgment. He drank away everything (even losing a leg to the bottle). And with it went a lot of common sense and often his publishing. Martyn regularly re-recorded his work, sometimes for the chance to create a different dialogue – a band arrangement instead of a solo piece – but just as often it was for the cash. It was to retain some version of himself, in a songwriting/performing sense, because he had lost the real version. Just like the real version of his actual self disappeared down the bottle. Regularly. I’ve collected a few of Martyn’s albums on vinyl. And though Glorious Fool might not be one of the absolute classics there’s enough decent work on it for it to stand up. The title track gets it right. And I like the re-make of Couldn’t Love You More. I prefer the original, sure, but I actually like this. Old Eric Clapton eh – desperate to be someone like John Martyn but so incapable of it because though there’s darkness with Clapton there is no soul. The increasingly vacuous white-boy blues genre suits him so well. And Phil Collins, yes-yes, everyone hates him. Phil even hates himself. But this is another example of the good taste that Collins had as a producer/player when working with others. It might have a whiff or two of the production techniques of the time (obviously) and they might now be rather stale but I still rate Phil Collins from 1975-1985 as an incredible workhorse – session keyboardist and drummer, producer and performer both solo and with his band. But anyway, all of that is both sideline and irrelevant when you’re dealing with John Martyn. A man who sits inside his very own genre. A man whose voice and whose song-structures can make you melt. Even on his (ever so slightly) lesser-sounding material. There’s enough on Glorious Fool for me to give it the spin now and then.
Sample Track: Glorious Fool
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