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Articles Home » 1982 Articles » Martyn, John - 1982 Well Kept Secret
Martyn, John - 1982 Well Kept Secret

ARTIST: Martyn, John
ALBUM: Well Kept Secret
LABEL: Duke Records
SERIAL: 90021-1
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 2008, Rhino, 2564-69484-5


LINEUP: John Martyn - vocals, guitar * Jeff Allen - drums * Danny Cummings - percussion * Jim Prime - keyboards * Alan Thomson - bass, guitar

Additional Musicians: Lee Kosmin, Steve Lange - background vocals * Mel Collins, Ronnie Scott - sax * Martin Drover - trumpet * Geraint Watkins - accordion * Andy Duncan - drums * Pete Winfield - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Could've Been Me * 02 You Might Need A Man * 03 Hung Up * 04 Gun Money * 05 Never Let Me Go * 06 Love Up * 07 Changes Her Mind * 08 Hiss On The Tape * 09 Back With A Vengeance * 10 Livin' Alone


Many years ago I went through a life-changing moment when everything I knew, loved and believed in was turned topsy-turvy and in the process lost almost everything I owned except amazingly enough, my sanity. For those few tumultuous months I listened to very little music and was more concerned with trying to put back together the remaining tatters of what was left of my darkened life. Funny how tragedy puts everything in perspective but one CD that helped me through that scorching summer of discontent was John Martyn's 1973 masterpiece 'Solid Air'. I was a fan of Martyn's previously; going back to his 1981 Phil Collins produced LP 'Glorious Fool' and sporadically picked up his earlier folk/singer-songwriter albums which were all very good, but with the intense and often overwhelming emotions I was experiencing during that difficult period, I was drawn to 'Solid Air' which resonated and uplifted my bedraggled soul and even now, holds a special place in my heart.

The Songs
Martyn's music has always been difficult to describe. He worked in a variety of styles from blues and folk to jazz and rock but sounded like none of the above. His early output is critically acclaimed yet he's barely known in the mainstream despite attempts at capturing the AOR market on the aforementioned 'Glorious Fool' and 1982's 'Well Kept Secret'. Die-hard Martyn devotees usually put down the couplet as John's weakest efforts mainly due to the trendy production values but in my opinion just the opposite is true. 'Well Kept Secret' is full of great songs and while some of the record sounds like Gerry Rafferty and even Robert Palmer on the slow west coast opener 'Could've Been Me' and the exquisite up-tempo rocker 'You Might Need a Man'; its Martyn's song-writing that saves the set from being just a standard issue pop album. The record's 'heaviest' piece 'Gun Money' recalls David Gilmour and with the funky 'Love Up' which again sounds like the simply irresistible Robert Palmer as well as the peppy Paul Carrack/Squeeze styled 'Changes Her Mind'; it's difficult to understand why radio chose to ignore his commercial offerings but in light of his status as a folk troubadour and especially in MTV shell-shocked America where he couldn't get arrested outside a small but loyal cult following, maybe it's not too hard to figure out.

In Summary
Passing away from Pneumonia in 2009, Martyn's last studio album 'Heaven On Earth' was released posthumously in 2011 and understandably was at times dour and sad listen to be frank. Save that one for last while digging through his extensive and brilliant back catalog starting with 'Solid Air' and the 1981-82 albums.

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#1 | gdazegod on September 09 2013 14:08:12
I think a John Martyn discovery mission is in order. I always used to get him confused with Moon Martin (by name), even though Moon was a bit of a Paul Kantner lookalike if I remember.. I think Moon also wrote 'Bad Case Of Loving You' made popular by the guy mentioned in the article above: Robert Palmer.
#2 | gdazegod on September 09 2013 14:14:54
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#3 | gdazegod on September 09 2013 14:15:33
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#4 | gdazegod on September 09 2013 14:18:00
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#5 | gdazegod on September 09 2013 14:24:37
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