10 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though he cut over 20 albums in his 60 years, 1973's Solid Air is the one for which British folk singer John Martyn will be most remembered. The detuned, buzzing E string of his acoustic guitar and the subtle jazz arches infused instrumentally throughout gave Solid Air a mellow warmth unlike any of his prior works. A beautifully haunting title track opens, affixing a bewitching tone — the song was penned for Martyn's friend, the celebrated Nick Drake, who died 18 months following the album's release. "Over the Hill" follows with an infectious sing-along melody and break-up lyrics that are both moving and darkly scathing. Richard Thompson's mandolin plays a prominent role here and all through Solid Air he provides guitar, violin, and autoharp. Martyn used an Echoplex analogue tape delay on his stunning rendition of Skip James' "I'd Rather Be the Devil", though the album is usually recognized for "May You Never." Should it sound familiar to the uninitiated, thank Eric Clapton who covered it on his 1977 album Slowhand. Not even a month before his passing, Martyn was awarded an Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II in January of 2009.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though he cut over 20 albums in his 60 years, 1973's Solid Air is the one for which British folk singer John Martyn will be most remembered. The detuned, buzzing E string of his acoustic guitar and the subtle jazz arches infused instrumentally throughout gave Solid Air a mellow warmth unlike any of his prior works. A beautifully haunting title track opens, affixing a bewitching tone — the song was penned for Martyn's friend, the celebrated Nick Drake, who died 18 months following the album's release. "Over the Hill" follows with an infectious sing-along melody and break-up lyrics that are both moving and darkly scathing. Richard Thompson's mandolin plays a prominent role here and all through Solid Air he provides guitar, violin, and autoharp. Martyn used an Echoplex analogue tape delay on his stunning rendition of Skip James' "I'd Rather Be the Devil", though the album is usually recognized for "May You Never." Should it sound familiar to the uninitiated, thank Eric Clapton who covered it on his 1977 album Slowhand. Not even a month before his passing, Martyn was awarded an Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II in January of 2009.

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