John Martyn – Heaven And Earth

John Martyn - Heaven & Earth
John Martyn - Heaven & Earth
John Martyn - Heaven & Earth


Genre: , ,
Length: 52:00
Release Date: 16th May 2011
Producer: Jim Tullio, Gary Pollitt
Track Listing: 1. Heel Of The Hunt 2. Stand Amazed 3. Heaven And Earth 4. Bad Company 5. Could’ve Told You Before I Met You 6. Gambler 7. Can’t Turn Back The Years 8. Colour 9. Willing To Work
Singles: None



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This album is varied, interesting, and represents a vast amount of John Martyn’s trademark dabbling in different genres. Considering it was a posthumous release, “Heaven And Earth” keeps the mood upbeat almost all the way through.


Some of the tracks drift along a little, as Martyn indulges himself in jazzy jams when he could have cut things short earlier. A couple of tracks are surprisingly average, given the brevity of the album and the quality of the other songs.

Posted April 26, 2014 by

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John Martyn had a reputation as a talented, eccentric musician who never quite committed to one genre. After his tragic death from pneumonia in 2009, producer Gary Pollitt committed to finishing his final album. Finally released in 2011, “Heaven And Earth” is a fitting and surprisingly joyful goodbye from a huge talent.

“Heel Of The Hunt” starts off with a taut funk rhythm and Martyn’s voice melodically grating over sultry bass. He sounds every day of his 60 years and more at the time of recording, but somehow he makes it work in a way other veteran musicians would envy. “Stand Amazed” is a bluesy number which allows Martyn to showcase a little more of his range. It strolls along at a leisurely pace, with some gorgeous female backing vocals to keep things exciting. While it isn’t a high point, it certainly isn’t a bad track. “Heaven And Earth” is a sombre ballad with a hint of jazz that tells of powerful love, and will remind fans why they still want to listen to Martyn after all these years. It is a little long at seven minutes, but you won’t regret taking the time to let the song get where it’s going.

“Bad Company” opens with some jazzy piano before bringing in some classic funk and distinctive vocals from Martyn, complemented by sumptuous-sounding backing singers. It’s an entertaining toe-tapper that would have made for a wonderful live performance. Moving on to “Could’ve Told You Before I Met You”, this number continues the upbeat theme with poppy acoustics, lively percussion, and a sprinkling of R&B. It’s not particularly exciting compared to the rest of the album, but it’s a summery and pleasant listen nonetheless. “Gambler” is a drifting, blues-rich track that shows just how intimately Martyn can communicate with his audience; it sounds like he is telling his tale to you and you alone, in a dark and smoky room.

Phil Collins lends backing vocals to “Can’t Turn Back The Years”, a cover of his own 1993 release. Hearing Martyn’s unique voice blending with Collins’ adds an extra layer to an already poignant song. The piano and drums have a lulling effect even as the vocals break your heart. “Colour” thankfully lifts the mood, with sparkling strings and a relaxed, funky rhythm. Like “Could’ve Told You Before I Met You”, “Colour” isn’t an especially standout track, but it makes for nice background music. The album round up at only nine tracks with “Willing To Work”, but it certainly ends on a high. This track opens with background chat and slow-moving, funky bass before bringing in backing singers and intense vocals to round things out. It isn’t hugely exciting, but it is eight minutes of what sounds like a very enjoyable jam as Martyn savours the song.

This is a gem among posthumous albums, and a fitting end to Martyn’s recording legacy. If you are new to Martyn’s music you may want to get acquainted with his style by putting on one of his many “Best Of” albums first but, either way, longstanding fans and new listeners alike will love “Heaven And Earth”.

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Mary D

Mary D


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