John Martyn

Live at Leeds

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Live at Leeds Review

by Rob Caldwell

Because Island Records didn't feel it was the right time for a live album, Martyn independently released this record from his home. The initial release was a limited edition of 10,000 (which Island did manufacture, though not distribute or promote) that was numbered and signed. Though the album shares its title with the famous Who live collection of the same name, the working title was "Ringside Seat" and photos of Martyn and bassist Danny Thompson in a boxing ring were even taken for a prospective cover, though never used. Recorded February 13, 1975 (the sleeve incorrectly states October), at Leeds University in the U.K., this is John Martyn at a peak in his career. In Thompson, he'd found a perfect foil for his increasingly jazzy textures and their bass and guitar interaction is a particular highlight. Having mastered the echoplex, which was capable of producing waves of echoed and distorted sound, Martyn was doing things with an acoustic guitar that no one had ever done (or has done since). "Outside In" (all 18:57 of it!) is a tour de force showcasing the otherwordly sounds he could coax from this device, and is worth the price of the album alone. The re-released version on Voiceprint/One World includes five bonus tracks ("My Baby Girl," "You Can Discover," "So Much in Love With You," "Clutches," "Mailman") from the show, including the ones Paul Kossoff of Free guested on.

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