John Martyn – The Island Years

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We’ve just heard that Universal Music have announced the definitive John Martyn box set covering his classic years with Island Records and that the scheduled release in September 2013. The Island Years which will be strictly limited is the most exhaustive career retrospective from one of Britain’s most original and enduring singer/songwriters.

Housed in an LP size hard-back slip case, this lavish box set contains 18 Discs including:

  • 17 CDs featuring John Martyn’s 12 key studio albums, recorded for Island between 1967 and 1987, including the two John and Beverley Martyn albums from 1970, plus Martyn’s original mail-order only album Live At Leeds. These discs include previously unreleased Out-Takes, unheard songs and 2 complete, previously unreleased live solo concerts from 1972 and 1977 and the complete demos for The Apprentice, the last album Martyn delivered to Island.
  • 1 DVD containing rare television performances from the Old Grey Whistle Test, Sight and Sound – In Concert, A Little Night Music and first time on DVD for the VHS release, Foundations.
  • A hard-back book featuring a new essay by The Island Years compiler and researcher John Hillarby plus rare and previously unseen photographs and extensive memorabilia.

There is a strong selection of previously unreleased alternative takes from Martyn’s career defining 70s albums Stormbringer, The Road To Ruin, Bless The Weather,  Solid Air, Inside Out,  Sunday’s Child and One World; plus there are extensive outtakes and a number of unreleased songs from Martyn’s 80’s Island releases: Grace And Danger, Sapphire and Piece By Piece.

The original demos of the 1987 album The Apprentice feature the unheard song ‘Lifeline’.  Another of the unheard songs, from the Grace And Danger sessions, is a cover of ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’ by Tommy Tucker which was the first record that John ever bought. There is also an unreleased instrumental from these sessions and a further unreleased song, ‘Love In Your Life’ from Sapphire.

In total, the box set includes five complete discs of previously unreleased or first time on CD recordings and the equivalent of a further three discs of rare, live and unreleased studio
material spread across the 17 discs.

Previously released outtakes and recordings have been excluded in favour of never heard before material.

There are also two complete, superbly recorded, previously unavailable solo acoustic concerts. The first of these was recorded at The Hanging Lamp, Richmond, in May 1972; the second was recorded at The Town Hall, Sydney, Australia in August 1977 where John shared the bill with Bert Jansch.

Among the other live recordings, the box set will include the original Live at Leeds from 1975, Martyn’s Rock Goes To College performance at Stirling University in March 1981 and his Glastonbury performance from June 1986, both recorded for the BBC.

Among the BBC studio sessions, two previously unreleased tracks from John and Beverley Martyn from 1970 have been found, ‘Traffic Light Lady’ and ‘The Road to Ruin’.

The final disc includes over three hours of live footage. This includes John’s appearances on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973, 1978 and 1981, Sight And Sound In Concert, 1977 and a particularly stunning performance for BBC Bristol’s A Little Night Music in 1981. Plus, an expanded version of the Foundations VHS was recorded at London’s Town & Country Club in 1986.

For further information, biography and annotated discography visit: