“Are you into John Martyn?” asked my friend Stevie as we shared a couple of beers. It was 1992
Before I’d had the chance to reply “he’s ok, I can take or leave him”, a red and yellow coloured Memorex cassette (remember them?) was pressed into my hand. Stevie had taped his new album “Couldn’t Love You More” for me.
It turned out that John had recorded this album as a retrospective. It contained updated versions of his old songs and had the benefit of more modern production. Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour guested on guitar on a couple of tracks as did *coughs* Phil Collins on backing vocals.
I love this album. Although the feel is probably a bit cocktail jazz it is a superb album to put on late at night and just chill out to.
For years I couldn’t get a copy of the CD. Apparently John wasn’t happy with it and had first tried to prevent its release and then successfully managed to stop any further copies being released.
Not until 1997 in a second-hand record shop in a back street in Amsterdam (accompanied by my wife I hasten to add) did I finally get the prize of a CD copy of the album.
John’s reticence about selling the album had obviously changed in his final months because it was on sale at the November 08 gig we went to see. We even bought another copy because the first one was threatening to melt or end up as a pile of dust so often was it played.
Of course we have a fairly comprehensive collection of JM discs now and some of them (most of them) are undoubtedly better than Couldn’t Love You More but Couldn’t Love You More remains the most played and the one which sent both Mrs Bigrab and myself in JM’s direction.
I’m unable to upload audio tracks for the moment but I’ll upload something from the album hopefully tomorrow.
Edit: still having problems!
I remember one night going to a John Martyn gig at the Renfrew Ferry. Although the time on the ticket said 8:00 , by 9:45 there was no sign of him. We went outside to see if there was any sign of him arriving and sure enough there he was at the entrance in a considerably refreshed state. The venue manager was having kittens because the gig was supposed to be finished and everyone cleared by eleven.
As it turned out the bouncers were on overtime as John, clearly pissed and muttering crap jokes in between the songs, delivered a faultless set.
By the time we saw him in January 2007 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, John was confined to a wheelchair having had a leg amputated.
His weight had ballooned to over 23 stones.
Nonetheless I thought he delivered a pretty good show.
At one point in that gig John said “I’m fucked ladies and gentlemen. Sometimes at night I pray for death”
Despite this it was 22 months later when we saw John again at the same venue Click Here for my review of that gig just over a couple of months ago.
(quote from that review)
As he took a drink, one fan shouted ‘Is that water John?’ ‘Naw Bacardi!’ came the reply. John then went on to tell the tale of a (now departed) friend ‘He was drinking in a bar when his friend came in. ‘What’s this Ronnie? I though you were on the wagon’ he said. ‘It’s gin and tonic – great for helping you to mind your own business! Would you like some?’
‘Some people are crazy
Some people are just plain good
Some people talk wouldness and couldness
Some people don’t do as they should.’