Singer-songwriter John Martyn has died after a four-decade career spanning some 20 albums. Fan Nic Oliver has some words on the man:
So farewell then John Martyn, who popped his final clog today.
Still performing up until shortly before his death despite having his right leg amputated below the knee in 2003 (sadly due to a burst cyst, not after crashing his car into a cow as he claimed to some credulous reporters), the robust singer-songwriter was truly one of a kind.
A lot of obits have concentrated on Martyn's alcohol and drug abuse and the toll it exacted on his career, but I prefer to remember some of the staggeringly good music he released during his lifetime.
Solid Air (1973) and One World (1977) are stone-cold classics that experiment freely with folk, dub, blues and soul, and while his later work lacked consistency he continued to push the boundaries in his own inimitable manner.
Let's leave the last word to Mr Martyn shall we? "I often thought of faking my own death and watching the record companies fucking drum up all the shit they can..."
(Photo: John Martyn at the Barbican, 2008, by Elliot Jake Clowes)
Following the closures of the Astoria, LA2, Ghetto, Metro, Sin and The End to allow Crossrail to be constructed, it seems the Soho Revue Bar is the latest west end live music venue to face the chop.
Emails to that effect from promoters and bands began arriving at musicOMH towers yesterday and continued through today.
Speaking to musicOMH, the venue's booking manager Walt Etz said that a buyer for the venue, which entered administration in March 2008, could not be found. As a result the venue, formally known as the Raymond Revue Bar, will host its final night tonight and close on Thursday 29th January, with the lease passing back to the landlord subsequently.
You'll probably, like us, have seen the acres of press coverage given over in December to 'The Next Big Thing' - a kind of record company sponsored jamboree celebrating the probable success of their own marketing departments over 2009.
This year was the year of the girl. Not just any old girl. The electro-pop girl. Such is the ubiquity of the Lady Gagas and Little Boots of this world that it's almost impossible to remember when this list seemed more about the folk girl strumming her guitar and whispering plaintively about ghosts/sea monsters/nasty ex-boyfriends.
However, there are still some flourishes if you look carefully enough. Along with musicOMH-four star-approvedEmmy the Great, we watched an American folk singer called Anais Mitchell a few nights ago at the Luminaire, who damn near blew our ears off.
Now, Anais has all the trappings to be a cult folk act and no more (politically-inspired tunes, breathy vocals, etc etc) apart from one thing. Her new album, described by the singer as a "concept album based around the Orpheus myth, set in a post apocalyptic, great depression era America" has a couple of guests on it:
- Some chap called Bon Iver
- Ani Difranco
It might be nothing. But if it is more than nothing, you heard of it here first...
Last year in an interview with musicOMH, Berman gave notice: "After this I will stop and try to work out where I want to put my energy next and I don't know if it will be writing songs."
He went on: "For the first time I can say that I could walk away from music because this album is an answer to the problems posed by the others I've written. Plus you always want to go out on a good note and I don't want to be like Pearl Jam, taking up space where other younger bands could come through."
Last time out Portland's The Decemberists thrilled the world with The Crane Wife, which we duly awarded five stars back at the start of 2007.
Even those who'd thought them too literate, too arch, too damned clever for their own good, had to agree that they'd made the record of their career.
So where do they go after that (and a spot of campaigning in their home state of Oregon for Barack Obama)?
The answer comes on 23rd March when the band, fronted by Colin Meloy, unveil their fifth album. It's called The Hazards Of Love and is again released through Rough Trade. It weighs in at a hefty 17 tracks.
Anyone who tells you 2009 is only going to be about girls repeating themselves (however catchily) with Tenori-ons ought to be reminded that big, dramatic guitar parts - acoustic and electric - are still out there and, in this instance, being used to thrilling effect.
Of course The Decemberists aren't a mere 'guitar band'; they're much more than that, with fantastical lyrics - this time about a girl called Margaret, her lover and a forest queen - and intricate textures in the vocal and instrumental parts. And despite wide-of-the-mark comparisons with Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire, their track The Perfect Wife 2, from The Crane Wife, was given remix treatment from Junior Boys and producer-du-jour Diplo.
On first listen The Hazards Of Love reveals itself as an album in the truest sense of the word, an epic record that demands you sit down and listen to it from beginning to end. And then go back and start again.
It is definitely going to be one of March's essential releases. A full review will - but of course - follow.