Does there have to be a reason?


Every so often i just like to let the music do the talking.

‘Solid Air’ and its’ parent album by John Martyn are simply essential.

This you need to know.

It’s been a very nice day and I’m happy to let the music just do the talking.

Hope you’ve had as nice a day as I have.

John Martyn -‘Solid Air.’ mp3

(and if you feel the urge to check out albums by John Martyn as well as Solid Air, I would recommend Grace & Danger, Bless the Weather and One World as starting points…)

January 2009…a reflection


So…already we are at the end of January. How has it been so far?

Annoying, or unmotivated students aside, the death of John Martyn at the age of sixty is something that has to be the worst thing. I’d only started to fully appreciate his music over the last few years, and hadn’t seen him live. He produced some excellent albums – Grace & Danger (even Phil Collins’ involvement couldn’t ruin it), One World, and of course, Solid Air. The title was tribute to his friend, Nick Drake, who died the following year. He was good at writing songs about male friends, like another one of Solid Air‘s tracks ‘May you Never’ in which he wishes a friend well. RIP, good Sir.

John Martyn -‘Solid Air.’ mp3

John Martyn -‘May you Never.’ mp3

There is lots of good music coming out – I have heard over twenty releases so far this year* and it seems that Scotland is coming up trumps already. The Chemikal Underground label has already released the debut album from the Phantom Band Checkmate Savage, with excellent albums due out over the next month or so from Aidan Moffat and the sophomore release from De Rosa. Bricolage’s debut came out this week, and a promo copy dropped through the letterbox of 17 Seconds Towers only this morning from Wake The President of their debut album. This album is not on Chemikal Underground but it was recorded at Chem 19, with Paul Savage and they supported Emma Pollock so…(you know how that sentence could end, so I won’t finish it). Not to mention Franz Ferdinand’s long-awaited third album which came out this week, and Les Reno Amps’ second album which will be out in February. Edwyn Collins live at Celtic Connections was a fantastic start to the gig-going year, even better with the addition of Roddy Frame on guitar (read the Vinyl Villain’s review – I was at the gig with the man himself and he summed it up so well i don’t think I can add my tuppence worth).

There’s other great records out as well -Antony and the Johnsons, Bon Iver, M83 and White Lies are already out, and releases from the Pains Of Being Pure at Heart, Darren Hayman, Morrissey, Western Civ and the collaboration between Horace Andy and Ashley Beedle are going to light up the musical world over the next four weeks or so. Broken Records have signed to 4AD -another band I first saw supporting Emma Pollock (and subsequently Idlewild and Sons & Daughters) -you can read all about it at Song, By Toad.

17 Seconds Records is slowly but surely making its’ way into the world, with us literally pacing the streets with boxes of 7″s under our arms (yes, you can buy it on digital services, who are you calling a luddite?). Read all about it either at our myspace or at our website

As ever, i cannot begin to listen to all the stuff i am sent, never mind write posts about it, but these two tracks, from upcoming releases should be heard:

Casiotone for the painfully alone -‘Old Panda Days.’ mp3 (taken from Advance Base Battery Life, out March 9)

Venice Is Sinking -‘Ryan’s Song.’ mp3 (from Azar, out March 30)

*I’ve told you before, I get sent most of these.

St. Andrew’s Day

Today is St. Andrew’s Day, the Patron Saint of Scotland. This is not a national holiday here (it might be a different story after independence), and nowhere near as big a deal as St. Patrick’s Day is (hell, I think St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by half the planet).

But, what the heck, I’ve survived a week back at work, it’s three weeks until term finishes, and I got paid yesterday (hmm, guess what I do when it arrives – other than paying the bills, obviously).

So here’s some scottish stuff for you, and just to let you know, I interviewed Malcolm Middleton today, so that will be on the blog soon.

First up, the greatest song by the greatest scottish band EVER (IMHO).

Delgados -‘No Danger.’ mp3

Along with getting into death metal and grime this year, I’ve also been discovering folk. This is a gem (yup, I do listen to some music pre-1976).

John Martyn -‘Solid Air.’ mp3

I love the whole early eighties aesthetic (I may have mentioned this before). This is a classic:

Fire Engines -‘Candyskin.’ mp3

..Mind you, the late eighties threw up some gems too…

The Shamen -‘Jesus Loves Amerika.’ mp3

and so did the nineties… : )

Urusei Yatsura -‘Hello Tiger (Peel Session).’ mp3

And I’m planning something special for December. Watch this space…

Clutching for definitions

It’s odd to think I’d barely heard much John Martyn at the start of this year. Sure, I knew the name and had heard one or two tracks, but having borrowed a ‘best-of’ from the library (My local library has some excellent stuff that has enabled me to educate myself about all sorts of stuff I’d barely heard for about 60p, roughly $1.20 in US Dollars per CD for three weeks) I had to investigate further. I loved One World and Grace and Danger too, but of the studio albums I have heard so far, I think 1973’s Solid Air is my favourite of what I have heard.

Why did I call this post clutching for definitions? Because the more I investigate John Martyn’s music, the more I realise that just as ‘pop’ and ‘indie’ are ever increasingly vague, so too are folk and jazz. There are a lot of folk and jazz influences on Solid Air, and as well as Martyn’s voice and guitar playing which are pretty damn gorgeous, Danny Thompson’s double bass playing is stunning too. The title track was about Martyn’s friend Nick Drake, who Thompson had played with, with another of 17 Seconds’ favourites, Richard Thompson.

I would urge you to go and buy this album-which you can almost certainly pick up very reasonably (it can be downloaded for £5.49 from iTunes UK, for example, though I’d rather you supported your local record store).

I hope these whet your appetite:

John Martyn – ‘Solid Air.’ mp3

John Martyn – ‘I’d Rather Be the Devil.’ mp3

John Martyn -‘May You Never.’ mp3

Music and pain never sounded so good, so beautiful, so lovely.