From 1971-77, John Martyn released a series of five studio albums for Island Records that were at the absolute cutting edge of singer-songwriter work. He took chances with arrangements, delving into jazz, improvisation, and even electronics, and penned more than a handful of memorable pieces along the way ("May You Never," for example, would eventually become a huge hit for Eric Clapton, while America covered "Head And Heart." In the '90s, his career having faded into a sort of mumbling, anonymous folk-jazz, Martyn became one of the first artists to practice revisionism, revisiting his old work not once, but twice. Couldn't Love You More has him working with his band of the time (plus special guests Phil Collins -- on vocals, not drums -- and David Gilmour) on the old stuff. The result, released initially only in Europe, was bland and dire at best. Great material taken out for a spin and parked in the middle of the road. To his credit, even Martyn was appalled, and brought in a new producer to re-mix the tapes for a U.S. release -- No Little Boy. Some of the tracks were ditched, and four new ones -- "I Don't Wanna Know," "Sunday's Child," "Bless The Weather," and "Just Now" (with the Band's Levon Helm on vocals). No Little Boy was a distinct improvement, as one can easily tell when listening to them side by side here, while three cuts on this release, new versions of Martyn's later "Pascanel" and "Hole In The Rain" plus a cover of Utah Phillips' "Rock, Salt And Nails," (with Helm and Martyn trading vocals) are appended to this release. To be fair, the releases did introduce him to a new audience unfamiliar with his work, and there were flashes of the old Martyn brilliance while putting a lot of the best songs together. But anyone intrigued by his early reputation who head this first would be inclined to wonder what all the fuss was about. Instead, just go straight for the original '70s work and feel the magic.
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2