John Martyn Solid Air

If John Martyn had succumbed to the professional trump card of premature death that claimed his friend Nick Drake (whom this album's title track is about) or Tim Buckley (whose mercurial work he at least equals but likely betters), he might have been granted the belated attention he so deserves. This welcome new edition of the maverick outsider's 1973 masterpiece, recorded in the midst of a hot streak that produced three equally brilliant albums, at least demonstrates a sustained interest in his work - despite his stubbornly green health. This is beautiful, ageless music that's pitched between the least fanciful strains of folk and a hallucinatory elegance not so far removed from what Talk Talk or Robert Wyatt achieved at their peak. Often singing as if consonants had vacated his vocabulary ("Solid Air") or enraptured by joy ("May You Never"), the scope and sheer emotional depth of his music is a gift we should embrace as though we don't deserve it. Which, given the pitiful modesty of John Martyn's fortunes, perhaps we don't. (Island)