Friday, 6 November 2020

John Martyn / Well Kept Secret

Eddy Bamyasi

Released in 1982 just one year after the excellent Glorious Fool is it fair to ask if Well Kept Secret was the beginning of John Martyn's long decline? Sure Martyn wholeheartedly embraces the production values of the day and the tracks are submerged in keyboards and easy listening bass and saxophone. However to be fair the songs are passable retaining some hints of the immediately preceding albums, said Glorious Fool and the harrowing Grace and Danger. They just aren’t very memorable and there’s no way songs like this would have passed the quality control on earlier albums.

You Might Need A Man is a catchy upbeat number that reminds me of Perfect Hustler from Glorious Fool. Love Up is similarly upbeat but very corny with an awful sounding heavily treated guitar riff and Hiss On The Tape is light hearted/weight. The soppy lyrics don’t help as evident on the weak love song that finishes the album — maybe Martyn had been hanging out with Phil Collins too long.

Nevertheless the voice is still strong, and clear, and high in the mix. The slightly corny grizzly cracks in the vocals, which became more and more prominent on later albums, are employed with restraint. But after the impressive Glorious Fool this, his second and final album for the WEA label, was a disappointing follow up which set Martyn on the road towards irrelevant easy listening.

About The Author

Eddy Bamyasi

Eddy is a music writer from Brighton, England, named after a Can record. Each Sunday he logs and reviews the albums that happen to be in his vintage Pioneer 6-CD magazine changer, amongst other things.

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