John Martyn, |
John Martyn's One World, released in 2005, is a double-disc, British import compilation that should not be confused with his 1977 release of the same name.
While Martyn is well regarded in small circles, the general population and mainstream music fans haven't a clue about him. Those who know who he is may only know him for composing "May You Never," a cool little tune Eric Clapton covered a long time ago on his Slowhand album. Martyn was a contemporary of the same folk scene that helped launch the careers of Ralph "Streets of London" McTell and Al "Year of the Cat" Stewart, but he soon forged a different direction for himself.
Most of the music here is very appealing blue-eyed soul, light funk or smooth jazz, depending on your outlook. Instrumentally it is all top drawer, with great arrangements. Listening to Martyn on the surface can be a very pleasurable experience because you have to dig deeper to find the music's flaws. Unfortunately, upon closer listening you may find Martyn to be a terrible vocalist with a voice that often strains, and fails, to achieve musicality. Yet I still found enough good music on these two CDs to set his vocal limitations aside because he is frequently able to camouflage those shortcomings.
Another problem with this compilation is the liner notes. There is a brief biography and that is all. Compilations should have more detail than what is offered here. There are no listings of session dates, musicians or the albums each song originally appeared on. There aren't even composing credits. There is nothing more than a track listing.
I give One World a thumbs up, but be forewarned. John Martyn is not for everybody.
by Charlie Ricci