john and beverly martyn: stormbringer

"An undersung jewel of early 70s UK folk-rock and certainly as good as 
anything Nick Drake or Richard Thompson (dear favorites of mine from way 
back and friends of the Martyns) ever released, Stormbringer! was only 
introduced to me by our partner Dr. Stew a few years back.  There are 
days, when no one else is in the shop, that I put on the album's 
centerpiece, "John the Baptist," on repeat and let it play for hours, bringing 
me to euphoric agony.  So, a few words first about that song.

"I'm John the Baptist and this is my friend Salome, and you can bet 
it's my head she wants and not my heart only."  

After introducing himself and his leading lady, our hero explains his 
love for his future killer.

"If you see me smiling and you wonder why, you can bet it's a private 
joke between her and I."

He knows what's coming, and in the simple chorus stated over and over, 
"it's alright / everything's alright," he tell us that he's so in love 
that he doesn't care that she'll slice him in two.  Impending doom and 
heart-busting adoration combined - know the feeling?  Ever heard a song 
that said it?  Well, now you can, ya poor yoink.

Anyway, it's a tragic-blissed jewel nestled among among others of its 
kind.  Beverly's magnum opus, "Sweet Honesty," for instance is a funky 
folk dream-come-true, and if there's a single weak song on here, it 
still rivals Richard and Linda Thompson's Pour Down Like Silver (still the 
record I love the most in this haunted, desperate world) as a 
masterpiece of the time and place.  

This is the second and better disc made collaboratively by Mr. and Mrs. 
Martyn before Island began to put pressure on John to go solo.  Shortly 
after, his two gorgeous monstrosities, Bless the Weather and the 
cocaine-and-disco-touched Solid Air, showed the wear of the impending divorce 
of the two great talents, as Beverly (whose dazzling compositions for 
this album were covered by Francoise Hardy on her little-known and 
super-hip early 70s record, If You Listen) was saddled with the raising of 
their children while John partied and got to be the artist of the 
family.  Both were still in their mid-20s when it all went wrong and neither 
seems to have entirely recovered artistically.  

But this, with its adorable cover shot in the magic hour, is the 
twilight of of their joy and a bittersweet and magnificent gathering of their 
creative energies.

Everythin's allllll rriiiiiight."

(ian, true vine)