MARTIN STEPHENSON – Gladsome, Humour And Blue 30 (Barbaraville Records)

Gladsome Humour And Blue 30I might have begun by remarking on how long it must be since I listened to the original Gladsome, Humour & Blue but having played the new version once I had to dig out my old vinyl and give it another spin. It’s still a great record and ‘There Comes A Time’ grabbed me immediately, or again, or both. This was Martin and The Daintees’ second album and everything was going for them including having Paul Samwell-Smith on-board as one of the producers.

Martin has taken a new approach to recording Gladsome 30. He has thirty years more experience, his voice is a little deeper and stronger and he has trimmed away much of the decoration leaving essentially a guitar band, somewhat heavier than before. There are subtle differences, too. The lyrics have been changed in small ways so that ‘There Comes A Time’ is now written mostly in the second person until the final verse in which Martin reveals that he’s where he wants to be and the line “I have my reign” is almost triumphal. Martin addresses the song to his younger self, it seems.

I like the way that ‘The Old Church Is Still Standing’ segues into ‘Even The Night’, the sounds of the organ (actually Martin’s guitar) bridging two of the album’s finest songs and then drifting away into what was originally the end of the first side. ‘Wholly Humble Heart’ opens with stinging electric guitar from Paul Steel and develops into the album’s big production number. It was an important song in 1988 and it still is. ‘Me & Matthew’ is an immediate contrast being just fingerpicked acoustic guitar and voices.

Martin has added two bonus tracks. The first is a rock’n’roller called ‘Get Get Gone’ which mixes up its time zones by including a Metro station and a ten bob note as well as pound pounds. Martin lets his accent run free on this one. Then, after a pointless wait (et tu, Stephenson?) we have another version of ‘There Comes A Time’, almost hymnal with its multi-voiced guitars. Gladsome 30 isn’t a replacement for the original, in fact I’ve enjoyed listening to both side by side, but while it stands alone it is also complementary. You do need both.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Wholly Humble Heart’ – live and solo: