John Martyn

The Church with One Bell

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The Church with One Bell is an interesting covers album, finding John Martyn tackling songs that are both ideal and absolutely ill-fitting. Since Martyn is such an idiosyncratic talent, maybe it shouldn't be surprising that he succeeds on "Strange Fruit" and not with Randy Newman's signature craftmanship on "God's Song," but there's still a bit of shock that the former works. Furthermore, the choice of material is often puzzling, but he makes songs like Ben Harper's "Excuse Me Mister" work through committed performances. Ultimately, The Church with One Bell is too uneven to qualify as even a minor gem in his catalog, but there are enough interesting moments to make it a worthwhile listen for long-term followers.

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