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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

One World

John Martyn

1977

One World

Album Summary

One World is the seventh studio album by British guitarist and singer John Martyn, released in November 1977 by Island Records. The album, produced by Island owner Chris Blackwell at his Berkshire farm, was recorded with a myriad of musicians, including Steve Winwood, Danny Thompson, John Stevens, Hansford Rowe and Rico. The album followed a sabbatical where, at Blackwell's invite, Martyn holidayed in Jamaica in 1976 with his family, having become disillusioned with the music business. The trip helped revitalise his interest in music. The album combines Martyn's experimental tendencies with more pop-leaning material, with influences from the dub music of Lee "Scratch" Perry, with whom Martyn worked during the trip to Jamaica and co-wrote the song "Big Muff". The record features a relaxing, echoing sound with usage of Martyn's distinctive Echoplex guitar effects, while his lyrics discuss love, specific people and his disintegrating marriage. Some of the recording was achieved outdoors, with Island's mobile recording studio being used to operate a live feed across the farm's surrounding lake; microphones picked up the full ambience of the area, including natural reverb and surrounding geese and trains, helping contribute to the album's sweeping sound.Upon its release, One World received acclaim from music critics who hailed its inventive, unique sound and lyrics. Martyn toured in promotion of the album in late 1977, whilst a televised performance at the Collegiate Theatre, London in January 1978 helped the album becoming Martyn's first chart success, reaching number 54 on the UK Albums Chart. "Dancing" was released as the album's sole single a month later. In later times, the album has been credited for helping develop trip hop music. In 2004, a deluxe edition of the album was released by Island, containing bonus live material. The album is included in the music reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.86

Votes

3718

Genres

  • Rock
  • Folk
  • Pop
  • Singer Songwriter
Reviews
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2

NO MORE BRITISH SHIT I HAVEN'T HEARD OF

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1

Make. It. Stop. Other than some instrumental work on "Small Hours", I couldn't wait for this album to be over. Anti-groove jazz.

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5

No lo vi venir. Parece Nick Drake. Volverlo a escuchar para darle un rating más justo.

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5

Soft and dreamy. Talkative and calm

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5

This album was a 4 right up until "Small Hours." I've listened to it probably ten or more times in the last 24 hours. Easily becoming one of my favorite songs of all time. One of the most soothing, cleanest albums I've heard in a long time. Highlights: 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8.

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5

An adorable dreamy piece of work. This was my 110th on this, and I loved every moment of it. 5 stars because there aren’t 6.

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5

This was an inspiration. There are problems with production that at points feels dated, but once I let this go and got past some of the more late 70s/ early 80s sounds, I felt uplifted and held by this album in a way I haven't by many albums. Small Hours blew me away, it's wonderful ambient guitar over a simple pulse beat, eventually leading up to a short song, before returning to guitar and sound was perfect. It's made me want to hear more.

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3

There are some good sounds on this album, but it feels kinda sleepy to me... I also don’t dig his voice, but there are a couple good songs on this. Favorite Track(s): “Dealer” and “Couldn’t Love You More”

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3

not a fan of his voice. a little like brian wilson but not as good. the sounds on smiling stranger are good though

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3

Meh.

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2

This didn’t feel like a mediocre album of its era chasing the Beatles hype. No, it felt like a mediocre album from the 80s instead, when everyone was fascinated by bad “world music”. But hey, at least it’s ahead of its time I guess?

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1

a mix between garbage and porn soundtrack

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1

This album is really not my thing. Small Hours and Couldn't Love You More are pretty good, but I think my appreciation for the most divergent tracks is telling. The production is well-crafted in the sense that it's interesting, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what it adds up to. I feel like there's more artistic merit than the Supertramp record, but it's still a little indulgent and navel gaze-y. 1.5/5

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5

I ended up listening to the Spotify suggestions for a long time after this ended

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5

Very good album, nice combination of rhythms.

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5

Todavía no lo escucho pero con fe me gusta

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5

When his voice first came in, I hated it, and was preparing for an excruciating 40 minutes. But that was the only part where I noticed his voice stand out, and then in blended in to an ocean of excellence. This is the most surprising album I have had so far and is going on regular rotation.

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4

reverby!

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4

Pleasant surprise!

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4

Bra album kan tänka mig att lyssna igen.

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4

A fun psychy funky album, need to give it a better listen.

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4

Good album went a bit too 70s funk for my liking for this style. Some instrumentation felt a bit too forced especially earlier on in the album. Some great arrangements though.

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4

Very chill, peaceful, and natural-sounding. Lovely background music.

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4

Este es el tipo de Jazz que si me gusta, no tan experimental, nadie quiere sobresalir y a buen tempo. Solo conocía Dealer que no sabía que se llamaba así.

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4

So good. Lovely to listen to

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4

i really loved it, he has a great voice

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4

false

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4

Pretty good

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4

Really interesting, as ever for John. Worth the price of admission for the final track "Small Hours" alone.

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4

A chill, jazzy, moody album. I like the instrumentation more than the vocals, but the low growly vocals ain't bad either.

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4

I wasn't sure I liked this album at first but it has some really delightful moments and I think that if I listened to it more I would get into it. I can see how this artist might have contributed to the musical styles of artists I listen to regularly today.

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4

Distinctly generic until Small Hours, which hits different from the rest of the album and drags this sucker out of the muck.

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4

I rly fuck w this, hes showed up in music recommendation sites when i enter music i like but ive never rly given him the time, but today i did (funnily enough i was looking at this album specifically before i checked here lmao) yeah pretty poggers pogchamp imo, listened to it twice today and plan to listen more

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4

Love it. Completely new to me. Mixing blues, jazz, reggae, and world beat. And all the sweet guitar riffs and effects. My only criticism is I’m not in love with his voice. Maybe it would grow on me. 4.0

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4

Funky Joe Cocker

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4

Soulful, and funky. Great voice. Nice diversity of songs.

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4

Unusual combo of funk, jazz, blues, and Dr. John. Dude can noodle, too. Dig it.

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4

Funky Af. Small hours. Wow. Excellent.

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4

Very interesting, like early Sade and precursor to elevator music but in a good way.

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4

I hadn't listened to John Martyn before, a really great discovery. Textured sound, many layers and influences, takes you to unexpected places, ahead of his time. Will definitely explore more of his work

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4

Dangerous, psychedelic yacht rock that morphs into early post-rock by the end? I'm a fan.

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4

For the first time in this project, I was very positively surprised by an artist I had never heard of before. This is very intriguing to listen to, with its wild mix of different styles and his very unique voice.

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4

This was really cool to find. I've never heard of this guy. Seems super ahead of its time and influential.

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4

So breezy, smooth, and creative. Loved it!

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4

I like everything going on except the vocals. They sound weak and winded. Like the guy just ran 6 flights of stairs to get to the studio. Big Muff is a good tune. I am really torn on this album, but I think there is enough here to merit me coming back to it.

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4

good at work listen

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4

Rock, pop. Extrañamente interesante.

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4

Wild, interesting album from someone I knew nothing about.

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4

áhugaverð plata

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4

I liked this not as much as the other John Martyn though

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4

good!

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4

Ordagrant cheelin

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4

folk hop, flute bop

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4

Zzzzzzzzvvvvrrrrrr ZzzzzzzzGgggguuuuuuudddd ZZZZaaaallllbbbmmmmmzzzz

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4

Kindoff unique slow rock

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4

Man, I loved hearing this album. I knew and loved the tracks Couldn't Love You More, and Small Hours already, but it was excellent to hear all the album cuts. Dude's voice was a jazz instrument, and his playing acoustic-like-it's-an-electric guitar playing is pioneering and totally cool too. Gonna deep dive his catalogue now. THIS is the reason I'm on this listening journey!

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3

Lee Scratch Perry helped him write Big Muff. Good song!

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3

It was alright, I definitely was not blown away by it, and I definitely won't listen to it again.

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3

Pretty interesting, funky ass bass. No standout songs for me, but makes nice background listening.

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3

Got some like ZZ Top vibes from this album. Pretty good album, it's like smooth jazzy / soul. It kinda felt like John Martyn was whispering sweet nothings into my ears for the entirely of the album. Oh. OH. This is fuckin' music, isn't it?

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3

Important and influential, but I wouldn’t seek this out

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3

There are parts of this album that I like *a lot*. Especially the parts where John Martyn isn't trying to sing. When his voice blends in with the music, it's really good. When he grates, it's REALLY grating. Luckily, that doesn't dominate most tracks, and I enjoyed the album overall. 3 stars.

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3

not so bad, a bit slowish for me

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3

Bem hazy, agradável de ouvir mesmo sem ser muito marcante.

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3

i really like the noodling and atmosphere on small hours to finish the album. the rest is fine... seems like a sedated eric clapton or joe cocker.

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3

Sonido por completo etereo, suena como pop experimental. Tiene un problema en un bache a la mitad con dos canciones romanticas muy sosas que hacen que pierda un poco el concepto. Los sonidos de experimentación en guitarra y amplificadores no van a ser para todos pero a mi me encanto. La última canción fue lo mejor del disco. Impresionante pensar que es de 1977, casi se podría notar un atisbo de lo que va a llegar en unos años con new wave y sintetizadores.

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3

Neither good nor bad. Entirely forgettable.

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3

C’estbon dans l’ensemble mais ondirait je m’attendait a plus pour un guitariste. 3.15

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3

- Learned about the genre "folk-jazz" - it's got some funky prog in it but the vocals and mellow melodies are along the line with folk. Very interesting mixture of genres, almost feels surreal. - Good album but not hooking me, which somewhat has to do with the raspy voice

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3

Not as good as Penguin Orchestra Cafe, but I liked it and the album cover was dope

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3

Another "acquired taste" but at least its better than Billy Bragg

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3

Tranquilo y suave. Sin estridencias

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3

This had some great textures but nothing grabbed me

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3

I enjoyed it at times. Very very mellow. His vocal style was sort of different, I’m not sure in a way I appreciated. The last track seemed a very odd addition.

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3

Actually not bad

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3

Yeh decent I’ll go back to this

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3

Better than the last two albums. Was hoping for a bit more of a dub feel to it.

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3

Didn't like this after the first track or two but it really grew on me as it went on. Really nice chill vibes. 7/10

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3

Quite a nice listen. Nothing special but felt a lot more modern than a 1960s album. Quite a bit of Gomez in there. I liked it.

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3

Deece but was hoping for better given his other stuff I know

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3

It was ok.

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3

This album could be an album to vibe out to. The synth is mellow and the singer's voice is very airy and quiet, adding to the overall feel of the album. Personally, I thought it was alright, but it's a bit too "quiet" for me. Favorite track: Dancing

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3

Nice, Need to listen more

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3

smooooooooooooooth (great closer)

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3

Неплохой альбом, чтобы почилить. Но не настолько, чтобы запомниться и вдохновить на прослушивание опосля. Порой альбомы складываются так, чтобы продаваться первыми треками. У One World же первые треки довольно скучные, претендент на роль звуковых обоев. Грамотный чил - он всё же про залипание, а не про незаметность. Впрочем, в треке One World можно что-то найти, вокальная партия довольно харизматичная. А позалипать можно где-то начиная с Couldn't love you more. Вот в Dancing действительно захватывающий припев, который даже удивляет на фоне предыдущей умеренной невнятности. Small Hours - отличная арт-композиция, комплексная, мелодичная, разнообразная. Вот будь вместо 1-го, 3-го и 4-го треков что-то поинтереснее, можно было ставить 4. А так всё же не дотягивает.

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3

ну хуй знает, три раза прослушал, вроде как и появляются иногда годные мотивы, и вокалер угарно хрипит, но все-таки в целой своей массе альбом какой-то никакой, почти нихуя и не запомнил по итогу. плюс последняя песня просто напросто напрягает шопиздец. наверное где-то 6/10, мб попробую вернуться как-то

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3

Not too bad but a bit repetitive in places.

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3

Enjoyed this more as it went along actually! At first I thought he was a bit Paul Simon then I got into his own stlye. Particularly the last v low fi song

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3

Fairly middle of the road to my ear. Not a bad record though… listen-able! Good last track!

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3

This is definitely not my thing but but it was a pleasant listen.

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3

Never heard of this guy before. This is pretty low-key with some interesting arrangements and overall quite a fresh sound for 1977. Nice working from home background music, which I suppose both is and isn’t a compliment.

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3

Rating: 6/10 Best songs: Dealer

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3

Pretty interesting. Prefer Solid Air. 6/10

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3

Cool but SO BORING

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3

Ok. Above average 70s soft rock. At its best, it sounded a little like upbeat Grateful Dead. Uninspiring and inoffensive.

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3

Love the music, but not a huge fan of the vocals on most tracks, I might even like this record better with no vocals. That being said, John Martyn clearly has an extremely unique and distinctive voice so more power to him and those who appreciate it, especially when used interestingly in this world music western fusion context. I also thought on certain songs like “couldn’t love you more”, the vocals were extremely beautiful, but in that case the music was pretty basic. Can’t have it all on this record, so 3 stars.

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3

Nothing special / not bad I'll probably forget all about this album in a day. Oops, I already did

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3

Boring. I found myself just not listening to it at times. Normally when an album pops up here that I’ve never heard of it’s some British oddball stuff that has/had no US impact. Feel like this is one of those. Evidently people claim this to be the original trip-hop and led to Portishead etc. for that reason I’ll round a 2.5 up to 3

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3

Easy breezy - apparently this album was written after a visit to Jamaica revitalized the artist. It’s not Reggae, but it’s on island time.

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3

Enjoyable, sounds like a precursor to 80's synth.

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3

Interesting. I had never listened to John Martyn before. I'm not a big fan of his voice.

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3

Pretty easy listening at times, but some moments

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3

All the different styles. Santana, sting, the list could go on.

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3

First listen to album and artist. Quality stuff and worth a listen.

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3

Jazz and funky beats on the moon. And a tune called “Big Muff,” which I want to look up the meaning of. And some ambient.

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3

I liked the first album we heard from him more

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3

Nice chill and groovy record.

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3

Some quality songs on here. The amusingly titled 'Big Muff', 'Dancing' and 'Couldn't love you more' which made it onto my Spotify playlist for 2022 and made a tear come out. I don't know what genre this is, but seems a big ole' mashup of whatever worked, and his raspy voice is nicely unusual.

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3

Not what I expected at all - enjoyable enough. Vocals were completely unexpected.

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3

Hi- Dealer, Certain Surprise Feels like an alt-universe Dinosaur Jr. where J.Mascis got his start opening for Jimmy Buffett. I like it a lot more than I expected I would, but I will say...John is not a great singer. Guitar work here is amazing, though his vocal work...is definitely not. Jimi Hendrix was also known as a guitar god, while not being completely vocally complex, so this is not an antipattern for this time. Dealer is a strong opening number, and the rest of the album is pleasant and easy to listen to, with Certain Surprise being a standout. Closing out with Small Hours evokes early morning sunrises over the ocean, it's very pleasant and a great way to send off the listener.

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3

Lacking the talent of Van Morrison (the most obvious comparison) or the Neville Brothers (perhaps the less obvious comparison, but still, this reminded me in places of Yellow Moon), Martyn works the same white blues territory as the former with similar love for its black roots--not just in soul but jazz, too. His voice is silly, no doubt, but malleable enough to attain the tender devotional quality he's reaching for. Some of the arrangments have a delicate muscularity. One of those is called 'Certain Surprise'. Another is called 'Dancing'. Yet another is called 'Big Muff'. I repeat: 'Big Muff'. I can't even.

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3

Cool guitar effects and very dub influenced style. Feels kind of like world music-influenced pop.

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3

Didn’t really like the first half but he recovered nicely for the end

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3

Liked ‘certain surprise’ . Not as good as Solid Air album

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3

Don't know, why it is a AYMHBYD.... the only track that really justifies the album is the progressive jam Small Hours. (5/10) FT: Small Hours

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3

I didn’t hear the whole album but I was underwhelmed. It didn’t hurt my ears and was inoffensive so low 3*

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3

I really like ”Couldn’t Love You More” and ”Small Hours”. Had an interesting sound otherwise, Martyn’s voice was a bit coarse on most of the songs

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3

Interesting album. Liked it more than I thought I would. Very varied and, as a result, a bit patchy.

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3

Well produced and played, MOR adult music, more for the background

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3

Never heard of this guy. Pretty chill vibes on this one. Not super amazing, but totally music I could relax to.

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3

Couldn`t Love You More é

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3

-Opening track, "Dealer" is probably the strongest on the album. Solid fun synth-y-ish stuff going on. reminded me of some parts of stuff from the 'Who Are You" album by The Who. -Most of the rest of the album is kind of boring and low-energy. "Dancing" is nice, and "Big Muff" has some okay bits. -Most is pretty slow, boring songs. -"Small Hours" borders on like, AI-generated soothing ASMR music. Just nothing happening at all.

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3

Really good album, didn't expect the level of serenity there was in the last song, but goddamn that was so nice. 3 I'm sure the whole thing is going to grow on me, just like Solid Air

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3

Gave this one a couple of listens but still don't have much to say about it. I think I enjoyed it?

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3

Sounds like Martyn was aiming for a lot on this record. Pretty odd production with a heavy focus on synthesisers, combined with rock, jazz and some funk. I enjoyed it but won't be coming back to it

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3

Ligt goed in het gehoor!

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3

Dit was onbekend voor me maar best goed. Fijne sfeer weet de beste man neer te zetten.

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3

Dit was best leuk, alleen die stem werd me op een gegeven moment wel echt te veel...

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3

Like a funky, sometimes folky remix of Anthony and the Johnsons.

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3

Such a cool mix of influences on this that make for an interesting listen - though there aren't many tracks that I'm really gonna want to revisit so for now i'll give this like a high 3

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3

Small Hour and Dancing were the best tracks. The rest of the album was boring.

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2

never heard of him - liked a few - not my thang

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2

Ok but nothing special

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2

Ничего не зацепило мой слух

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2

Muy aburrido disco. Sí, sí, qué bonitos tus efectos y todo, pero no eres David Gilmour y además haces la voz fea todo el tiempo. Bueno, ok, me gustó la que a Casper no, Couldn't Love You More, y creo que es porque ahí no hace voz de Fautsch.

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2

Es un disco raro, como si Neil Diamond progresivo. No me desagradó, pero tampoco me emocionó de forma particular. Algo que me llamó la atención es el aspecto técnico, especialmente en Small Hours. Toda una hazaña con la tecnología de los 70’s.

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2

Erg experimenteel album, maar niet echt lekker luisterbaar

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2

OMG his voice makes me want to zzooottt mysherfff. Bluuuuurgh.

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2

I really don’t have a ton to say. In one ear out the other

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2

“One World” by John Martyn (1977) Lyrics range from Hallmark card vapidity to static repetitions of phrases that someone finds clever. Completely uninspiring for such a pompous album title. Nothing revolutionary. Martyn’s wheezy voice delicately dances around soft jazz melodies with predictable but pleasant enough stylings. Easy listening progressive folk/jazz. The chief attraction of this album is the modestly interesting instrumentation and arrangements, with cool electronic sounds peppering the musical landscape, but the novelty doesn’t last long. Nice background music, but Van Morrison does this kind of music much better. If this were the first music I heard in the morning, I’d go back to sleep. Good night. 2/5

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2

Not sure who listens to this kind of thing really

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2

Didn't really listen but interesting genre I haven't listened to much

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2

Not my cup of tea

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2

Understand the influence this album may have but not a fan.

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2

What starts as a noise record with slight rock tendencies, descends into instrumental ambience music.

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2

I liked the instrumentals, but I just couldn't enjoy the songs properly. I didn't really like John's voice, but the songs got better towards the end of the album. 2/5 stars.

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2

meh

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2

Lame and uninteresting

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2

Uneventful for me. Probably one that needs a closer listen

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2

At times this sounds like someone doing a Louis Armstrong impersonation set to some new age music Chuck Mangione would approve of without the trumpet. None of this really bothers me. I'm just to the point where I have to wonder if it was completely necessary to hear this before dying. Oh well, at least I'm now aware of who John Martyn is, which might have been his goal all along. Some would say forcing me to look up the correct spelling of Mangione should affect the album's rating. I'll call it a push and give it an extra star since it's pleasant background music and I'd bad putting it in the 1 dustbin. Plus I also believe Martyn would have been a great hang, despite what impact this album had on me. I bet Sade really digs this album.

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2

Not a great album. Surprised I've never heard of this guy though. All the songs are kind of boring and uninteresting. "Big Muff" was kinda funny. "Certain Surprise" had a croony, Dean Martin-y feel. "Dancing" had a 70s groove. Those were the only ok songs on the album.

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2

Not great

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2

Found this really dull, think it was his voice. very repetitive

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2

Het grijpt me niet heel erg aan, maar als achtergrondmuziek is het prima

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2

Didn’t really enjoy.

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2

2.5 this sounds really nice

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2

Good musician.

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2

I have never heard of John Martyn. This album was not memorable and just ok.

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2

One day, a fish (or some old man who accidentally swallowed a fish bone, I don't know which) learned how to sing and make some music. So, he grabbed some guitar and harmonica, gathered a bunch of other musicians and decided to record an album. All I can say about the result is, he did a pretty decent human music. But the critter needs a lot of improvement. I love the "One World" title though, it's like we and those fishes live in one world or something, right? Probably not. I mean, I don't get the sound of it. It sounds include tropical restaurant background music, default ringtone of cellphones, and some pretty decent bossa nova stuff. But perhaps more important than the sounds is the vocals. Yes, singing in the air is difficult for a fish, but it should be improved further. There are lots of great singers (yes, even outside of death metal and black metal) who have raspy vocals. A little bit of vocalization and now he's good. Overall, boooring. It kind of reminds me of Pink Floyd's "Meddle", another ocean-vibe rock album that was released six years before this one. It's a masterpiece of course, I mean there were whales lmao. But at least this album, unlike "Meddle", was so experimental it invented trip hop, among other genres. A nice achievement for a fish, isn't it?

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2

Meh was ok

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2

lol another noodly white guy from the 70s, what a surprise

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2

I do not care for this. However, it was very different than what I was expecting. Still not my thing. Sorry John.

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2

Was alright, a bit mellow for today, and I didn't listen very closely.

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2

couldn't finish

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2

Slipped into the background but the bits I did notice seemed dull and dreary.

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2

I thought the mix on this sounded pretty bad

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2

2.5

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2

Really? Two albums by this guy? Feels like an extension of the last one.

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2

A bit bland

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2

Mwah, kon nauwelijks verstaan wat ie zong.

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2

skipped though all the songs and gave up. Not horrible but not in the mood.

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1

who tf calls this dickbutt. too easy mate

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1

Booooo

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1

Tiene algunos momentos interesantes con sonidos caribeños y una buena ejecución en la guitarra, pero en general se me hizo un disco aburrido, su forma de cantar no me es grata y quitando un par de tracks un poco más movidos, se me hizo que tiene cambios demasiado sutiles, por no decir que es francamente plano. Tracks: quizá Dancing y Certain Surprise

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1

Aburrido. Entiendo que es jazz suave, pero esperar algo más energético para cerrar en Dancing.. Y pues no

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1

Is Big Muff a song about drugs? Maisie basically cried through the whole album.

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1

Unlistenable

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1

Nope. Yelling, atonal, and depressing. Pass.

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1

Elevator music for perverts.

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1

No

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1

Not my jam- not actively bad though

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1

Probably heading for a boring 2 stars until 'Certain Surprise' which was excruciating.

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1

God, please make it stop.

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1

The previous JM album on the list, Solid Air, is quite strong (4 stars) but I could not get into this album, which I had not heard before; the closing track was just annoying.

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