John Martyn: Barely Acoustic

By Miche Archetto:

One of the early influences of singer/songwriter and guitarist John Martyn has been Skip James. In 1972 John Martyn recorded his personal rendition of Skip James’ song “Devil Got My Woman“, that he entitled ” I’d Rather Be The Devil”. Even though the sound is everything but acoustic, it is interesting to listen to what it was possible to do with Echoplex and an acoustic guitar already in 1973 that is the year of this live recording at the BBC.
John Martyn, OBE (11 September 1948 – 29 January 2009) (born Iain David McGeachy) was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a 40 year career, he released 21 studio albums, working with artists such as Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Phil Collins. He has been described by The Times as “an electrifying guitarist and singer whose music blurred the boundaries between folk, jazz, rock and blues”. 
Martyn began his professional musical career when he was 17, playing a blend of blues and folk resulting in a distinctive style which made him a key figure in the British folk scene during the mid-1960s. He signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records in 1967 and released his first album, London Conversation, the following year.
This first album was soon followed by The Tumbler, which was moving towards jazz. By 1970 Martyn had developed a wholly original and idiosyncratic sound: acoustic guitar run through a fuzzbox, phase shifter and Echoplex. This sound was first apparent on Stormbringer! in 1970, which was written and performed by both John and Beverley Martyn, his then wife, who had previously recorded solo as Beverley Kutner and had worked with artists such as Nick Drake and Jimmy Page. Her second album with Martyn was The Road to Ruin, also released in 1970. Island Records felt that it would be more successful to market Martyn as a solo act and this was how subsequent albums were produced, although Beverley Martyn continued to make appearances as a background singer as well as continuing as a solo artist herself” More

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