Scottish/British singer-songwriter-guitarist John Martyn (1948-2009) never had a large following in America, but he had many devoted fans in the UK and around Europe, and was always an idiosyncratic but compelling recording artist and performer. He incorporated a bounty of different styles over the years, including blues, traditional folk, jazz, Middle Eastern, Jamaican, funk, and rock; both acoustic and electric (and hybrids). Pick almost any period of his career and you’ll find something interesting, though the Island Records albums he cut between 1970’s Road to Ruin and 1980’s darkly autobiographical Grace and Danger—particularly the 1971 opus Bless the Weather and 1973’s Solid Air—are regarded by many as his best. A good place to start investigating Martyn is a 2-CD compilation called Sweet Little Mysteries: The Island Anthology. There are literally dozens of other Martyn releases (live and studio) that have come out through the years.
This week’s Throwback Thursday selection finds Martyn in a playful mood, as he wows a 1978 German Rockpalast TV audience with a Davey Graham-inspired instrumental called “Seven Black Roses,” featuring the guitarist moving the capo several times during the tune! A studio version of this can be found on Martyn’s second album, The Tumbler (1968), and on various live sets. The video is part of a Rockpalast DVD called The Man Upstairs.