Piece by Piece
Island Records ILPS 9807 (1986)
Album available as:-
(Canada Island ISL 1083, Germany/ Holland Island 207 634-630, Island CID
by Piece was the second album recorded by Martyn after his return
to Island Records after a seven year absence. During this time, his
releases on other labels had seen most of any rough edges smoothed
off and his guitar playing become almost non-existent. The lighter
jazz/pop style which had begun on Grace and Danger had taken over.
Keyboardist Foster Paterson was a prominent contributor to the songs
on Piece By Piece, which are a mix of the instantly memorable and
the soon forgettable. The title song, written by Paterson, is one
of the memorable ones. Elsewhere on the album, "Lonely Love"
is Martyn at his breeziest and is the happiest sounding you're likely
to hear him; "Angeline" is a sublime love song and has the
honour of being the first CD single ever released; "John Wayne"
would become a staple of his live shows. The rest of the songs, while
not bad, do not stand out as these tracks do. Even so, Island pulled
out all the stops in promoting the album and a blizzard of materials,
including singles, a box-set interview, a tour program, and a press
kit were issued. As a result, the album did respectably well in sales
and even spawned a live album, Foundations, from the resulting tour.
First pressings of the CD had four extra songs on the end ("Tight
Connection to My Heart," "Solid Air," "One World,"
"May You Never"), making it quite collectable.
- Rob Caldwell (AMG)
By Piece was released in February 1986.
To celebrate John's 20th Anniversary as a performer and in the hope
of securing elusive radio air play time, Island released Classic John
Martyn at the same time. This was the first commercially available
cd single and featured the tracks Angeline, May You Never, Solid Air,
Glistening Glyndebourne and a cover of Dylan's Tight Connection To
A 12 inch single of Classic John Martyn was also released but with different
tracks Angeline, Tight Connection To My Heart, May You Never, Certain
Surprise and One Day Without You.
Island also released Angeline/Tight Connection To My Heart as a single.
The album itself featured the powerful John Wayne, complete with typically
ambiguous lyrics and what John describes as his 'strangled duck' vocal.
To achieve the effect Johnindulged large quantities of liquid refreshment
and did the vocal track in a single take. The track pushed his vocal
style to new limits and is a song that he likes to perform live. John
has said that the track was written for an ex-manager who he was rather
unhappy with at the time!
The album was mainly the product of a liaison with Foster Patterson
who wrote the title track. This was another stab at gaining the commercial
success and popular recognition, which had so far escpaed John's grasp.
Other musicians included Alan Thomson (bass), Danny Cummings (percussion)
and Colin Tully (saxophone).
The early cd's of Piece By Piece included four extra tracks: Tight
Connection to my Heart, Solid Air, One World and May You Never. This
13-track cd has now been replaced by a standard 9-track version and
is hard to find.
In March 1986 Island released Lonely Love, described by John as "the
album's little pop song", as a single in 7 inch with Sweet Little
Mystery (live) on the b-side. The 12 inch version featured a live
recording of Fisherman's Dream and Sweet Little Mystery on the b side.
Island produced a Piece By Piece promotional
boxed set which included 2 interview discs, a copy of the 12 inch
Classic John Martyn single and a promotional booklet. John is in conversation
with Trevor Dann and talks about his life, his views and the background
to many of his songs. This is a rare item and was only produced in
a very small number. In many years as a fan I've only ever seen one
copy and that one now resides in my collection!
John on Piece By Piece, "..it's a bit more mature and sophisticated,
what do you expect from a 37 year old man? It's not going to be raucous
and punkish, hardly going to have the U2 feel about it."
"What I've tried to do is sing more than play, and have fun with
some new sounds, like the strangled duck (on John Wayne). I've been
trying to sing better for the last few years and push myself in a
certain direction. I always find the vocals more difficult to get
right in the studio, they're better live, generally. To get the effect
I wanted on the track John Wayne I had to go out and get totally rat-arsed,
and then I did it on one take. Great effect."
John provided the soundtrack to Tyne Tees Televisions major series
on the environment, Turning the Tide. Broadcast in Autumn 1986 the
moving title song was loosely based on I Don't Want to Know About
Evil but with a new musical arrangement and adapted lyrics. The series
ran over budget and plans to release a soundtrack were scrapped though
there are some tapes in existence.
- John Hillarby (The
John Martyn Website)
Nightline (Martyn) - 5:04
2. Lonely Love (Martyn) - 3:22
3. Angeline (Martyn) - 4:54
4. One Step Too Far (Martyn) - 3:18
5. Piece By Piece (Paterson) - 3:56
6. Serendipity (Martyn) - 4:08
7. Who Believes In Angels (Martyn) - 4:56
8. Love Of Mine (Martyn) - 4:47
9. John Wayne (Martyn) - 6:55
Martyn - Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica, Keyboards