John Martyn completists have probably had rather empty wallets in recent years, following a spate of releases. This DVD arrives hot on the heels of a live album, which followed a live DVD, which followed a live album.

But 'The Man Upstairs' captures Martyn in fine form, during a high point of his career, and is a worthy addition to this extensive catalogue. Recorded in 1978, Martyn had just released his best album, ‘One World’, recorded after spending time collaborating with Lee Scratch Perry in America. Martyn’s folk background, bluesy songs and soulful vocals combined with the dub reggae influence to produce a unique album.

These songs form the heart of his setlist, but this concert highlighted just how consistently strong his material had become. ‘Couldn’t Love You More’ is Martin at his best, a romantic ballad of the highest order, and its presence is just as strong in the simple acoustic arrangement presented here as it was on the elaborate ‘One World’ studio version.

It gives the viewer a reflection of the reality of a live performance. The songs are punctured by regular re-tunings and some truly silly stage banter, as Martyn works his way impressively through a six pack of beer.

But between this, Martyn pauses to say, "This is actually a very serious song. It was written for a friend of mine who had what they call a nervous breakdown." He then performs his masterpiece, the beautiful tribute to Nick Drake, ‘Solid Air’.

Martyn still remains one of the UK’s most underrated artists. Here, his performance is such as to suggest that comparisons to Van Morrison are far from unjustified.



















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