John Martyn

Live in Germany 1986

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For fans of vintage John Martyn, Live in Germany 1986 is a dream come true. Not only does it team him up once more with bassist Danny Thompson, possibly his most sympathetic foil, but it also finds him largely delving back into his '70s material (indeed, only two songs, "Angeline" and "Sweet Little Mystery," date from the '80s). The more intimate ideas work well, and the duo are in such good form that they're able to improvise and bounce off each other the way they did more than a decade before. You simply need to listen to the way "Bless the Weather" segues into "Beverley" and then how that tune bleeds slowly into "Make No Mistake" to understand the range the pair have, blurring lines between folk and jazz. Of course, it wouldn't be Martyn without some electricity, and both "Outside In" and "I'd Rather Be the Devil" get the treatment, in versions that have come a long way from the originals but which still burst with ideas. There's plenty of between-song banter, as funny as ever, and the entire set list is classic Martyn, who's in fine form throughout.

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