Friday, January 30, 2009

John Martyn, 1948-2009


When I first began toiling at record stores my various managers inevitably turned out to be huge fans of John Martyn. While I respected Martyn, I never became a member of his small but rabid cult following. My bosses were the usually the types with tastes for expensive stereos and designer drugs. I've never been a part of those scenes, either. So when I played this live 1990 Martyn disc yesterday for the first time in a decade I was shocked at what I heard. The Dave Matthews Band sounds almost exactly like late-period Martyn. Mumbled vocals, odd vocal cadences, saxophone accompaniment, melodic bass guitar, loose improvisational feel- all suggest that Matthews was, in fact, Martyn's informal apprentice. Martyn died yesterday. (Tip via BGO.)

I'm saddened by the deaths of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Billy Powell and Welsh guitarist Mickey Gee. (And again, both tips via BGO.)

Even with a new album and his half-time show at the Super Bowl looming, I don't recall a time when my enthusiasm for Bruce Springsteen has been lower. I'm just not feeling it, Boss.

Kansas City Click: The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey will likely bring many first-time visitors to Jardine's tonight.

John Scofield stars at the Folly Saturday.

Combichrist shocks The Record Bar on the Lord's Day.


brucedene said...

Oh man, Bill, that's sad. I loved John Martyn *without* the requisite designer drugs. A college girlfriend gave me "Grace and Danger," and I worked backwards from there. "Glorious Fool" remains a favorite.

Among the current bands, I'm always reminded of him when I hear Gomez. You know which singer I mean. Thanks (?) for the notice.

Anonymous said...

I have been a fan of Martyn for decades, but only noticed today that Dave Matthews has a similar "slidey" vocal style and a gift for melody. I would not be surprised to hear that Matthews was a Martyn fan. But each stands on his own as an artist. We are lucky to have heard either one.

Matthews's far greater popular commercial success might have something to do with being a very hard worker with a longtime committed band. Matthews is, by most reports, a nice guy with his head on straight. Martyn was reportedly an alcoholic misanthrope.