John Martyn was an incredible talent. The unfortunate thing was that he never really caught the mainstream’s attention. But sometimes that’s just the curse of great talent, remaining in the shadows for those that can see and hear inside the fog of obscurity. And sometimes beyond.
John Martyn came into his own, introducing his folk style to the UK, eventually coming within the sphere of Chris Blackwell, who signed Martyn to the once influential Island Records that Blackwell founded and headed for some time. That was 1967. Since then, John Martyn released twenty one studio albums including the posthumous Heaven and Earth (2011). (John Martyn died in 2009.)
During this productive period, John Martyn became a beloved musician whose creative output engaged the human soul in ways that are hard to explain. While we are left with a sizable collection of studio work, and a rich batch of live material, a man like John Martyn never let up for a moment. It is therefore reasonable to expect a hidden cache of material out there waiting that was waiting to be discovered.
Island Records, the original home of John Martyn for so many years is planning the UK release of a monstrous Box set that will end up becoming a definitive statement of Martyn’s musical brilliance.
On September 9, John Martyn – The Island Years will become available to fans of the man with a goldmine of material that will include not only key Island releases, but also bonuses of unreleased stuff, video, and a collectible hard-bound book.
The Island Years will come with 17 CDs, and a DVD. The CDs’ content include twelve important “key” Island albums (the complete list has not been released as of yet), along with a batch of previously unreleased alternative outtakes (largely from Stormbringer, The Road To Ruin, Bless The Weather, Solid Air, Inside Out, Sunday’s Child, and One World, with extensive outtakes from Grace and Danger, Sapphire, and Piece By Piece), unreleased mixes of songs you have already heard, unreleased live tracks from 1972 and 1977 (The Hanging Lamp – 1972, The Town Hall (Sydney, Australia) – 1977), the complete demos for The Apprentice (1990), and unheard songs. It is said that the curator of the box opted away from previously released material bonuses to insure the freshness of this set.
The one DVD contains video performances from UK’s The Old Grey Whistle Test, Sight and Sound – In Concert, A Little Night Music, and the previously VHS-only, Foundations, all in all, over three hours of Martyn-related footage. The book is hard-bound with a new essay (John Hillarby), photos, memorabilia, and complete credit listings. The Box is an LP-sized slip hard-case for durable long-term storage.
All of this makes for an exhaustive – and highly collectible – Box overview for John Martyn. John Martyn – The Island Years will be a Limited Edition release; when they’re gone, they’re gone.
This very pricey but compelling Box can be pre-ordered here at the link.